Keep Your Friends Close, But Keep Your Family Closer During This Pandemic

With the looming threat of a novel coronavirus, there is so much attention given to protecting our physical health that our mental well-being drops lower and lower in our list of priorities. Amid an indefinite pandemic, having psychological and psychosocial support is essential, especially in maintaining our overall health and lifestyle.

According to Dr. Hans Kluge, MD from the World Health Organization (WHO), “It is definitely natural for anyone to feel stress, fear, anxiety, and loneliness during this time. At [the] WHO, we take the [effects on] our mental health [and] psychological wellness as being very crucial consequences of COVID-19.”


The Role Of Family In Mental Health

Antonio Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), stressed that the ongoing pandemic would result in long-term consequences involving families and communities, especially if mental health needs remain unaddressed.

Our family is the first relationship we ever make in this world. For most of us, we spend a considerable part of our lives surrounded by our family members. It is especially true for certain cultures.

Regardless of whether we live directly under their roof or not, we cannot deny that our relationship with our family affects us in a myriad of ways, including our mental wellness.

Healthy relationships are one of the most significant predictors of happiness and content. Many pieces of research have provided evidence that there is a link between healthy relationships and mental health. Similarly, poor relationships can contribute to its deterioration. 

While our family plays a role in our mental health, we share the same responsibility in protecting theirs. Thus, we must learn how to support them during this pandemic.


Checking In

Regularly take the time to check up on each of your family members. You can do this either face to face or through mediated communication, such as talking over the phone, having a video call, starting a group chat, or sending a message through social media. 

In starting a conversation about your family’s mental health, you can choose to ask directly (e.g., “How has your mental health been during this pandemic?”) or use subtler leading questions. Make it clear that you are willing and ready to listen to them actively. 

Identifying Warning Signs & Symptoms

Pay attention to how your family answers your questions and be vigilant in identifying indications of deteriorating mental health. If you live in the same house, take note of any changes in their behavior or routine.

Here are some signs and symptoms to watch out for:

  • Losing interest in hobbies and other matters they used to love
  • Feeling angry or sad for little or no reason
  • Feeling anxious or terrified about situations or objects that seem usual to you and others
  • Changes in sleep patterns or developing insomnia
  • Changes in their eating patterns or behavior
  • Emotional numbness or them saying that they don’t feel anything anymore
  • Avoiding you, other family members, and their close friends
  • Talking about taking their life or feeling hopeless
  • Declining productivity in school or work

Listening & Offering Support

Actively listening is key to being there for your family members. You can show your attentiveness by reflecting on what you heard and seeking confirmation (e.g., “It sounds like you’ve been struggling lately, is that right?”).

Additionally, before offering suggestions or your opinions, gauge whether it is something that they want to hear. For instance, you can ask, “Would it be helpful for me to offer advice, or do you prefer that I just listen?” Whatever response you get, you must respect it.

If your loved one is seeking help or advice, be realistic about what you can provide. Ensure that you won’t risk overextending yourself by suggesting specific tasks instead of declaring vague, albeit well-intentioned promises (e.g., “I’ll help with anything you need”). 


Here are a few gestures of support you can offer:

    • Schedule a regular phone or video call to check in with each other.
    • Support their daily routine.
    • Offer to watch a movie or to read a book together.
    • Offer to exercise or work out together.
    • Make a list together of coping skills for stressful or overwhelming moments.
    • Play virtual games together, whether by finding existing ones or coming up with your own.
    • Collaborate on a creative project (e.g., writing a story).
    • Practice a mindfulness exercise together.
    • Drop a meal or groceries at their front door.

Seeking Professional Help

Research on the accessible community mental health services in your area. Get immediate assistance if you think that your family member is at risk of harming themselves.

Final Thoughts

Currently, more and more people are advocating for self-care. But a support system is equally important. It does not only mean having people to support you, but it also means you can assist other people, especially the ones closest to you. In these trying times, you must keep your friends close and your family even closer.



Sobriety Pays Off During A Coronavirus Outbreak

The world had to go to a standstill when the number of positive COVID-19 cases soared faster than anyone ever imagined. Almost every country in the East and West ordered a nationwide lockdown and allowed no one to go in and out of the borders. Cities or states were under quarantine, and the local authorities mandated the inhabitants to avoid going out for non-essential reasons.

As expected, many people did not like the new situation that we all found ourselves in. Some were blatant enough to put quarantine in comparison with a house arrest. However, they could not see how fortunate they were to be away from places that might have the coronavirus. While dining in, working, or gambling was prohibited, you could still order takeouts and smoke to your heart’s content.


I said the latter in a matter-of-factly manner, yes, but it was not a nod towards smoking every day. You should not be emptying a pack of Marlboro or Newport—or both—as if you could only get through the quarantine by doing that. In truth, if you could lay off this habit completely, that would raise your chances to dodge or fight coronavirus.

Why Does Sobriety Pay Off During A Virus Outbreak?

My aunt contracted the coronavirus two weeks ago. It started with flu-like symptoms such as coughing, fever, and body pains. After a couple of days, she got tested along with her husband, who also tested positive. 

The thing is, both patients got similar symptoms around the same time. But my aunt’s husband had it a little worse because he experienced dizzying spells and loss of taste. 


They blamed it on the fact that he was a smoker, whereas my aunt had never puffed a cigarette in her life. Though he had gone from two packs to less than a pack a day, it still caused enough damage on his body, especially his lungs, to be unable to beat the coronavirus quickly. If my aunt’s husband already stopped smoking years ago, he might not be having this problem now.

What Does A Cigarette Do To Your Body?

It Activates Your Immune System At Odd Times

I read a recent study about a group of non-smokers who were told to use e-cigarettes for the first time to see how the smoke would affect their bodies. As it turned out, it only took 20 puffs before the chemicals forced neutrophils to release DNAs that could form a trap for bacteria. It might sound helpful now, but if it would happen a lot, your immune system might malfunction and work against healthy cells. Once a real threat like a coronavirus comes, therefore, your immunity might be a curse to you.


It Keeps You Prone To Infections

Many smokers claim that they cannot stop puffing because it makes them forget their worries momentarily. They no longer mind if it alters their odor and causes constant coughing and other health problems as long as they can smoke. 

This effect is bothersome as these people become too ‘high’ to realize what is happening around them. Worse, their cells may be in chaos often, so their body cannot detect or prevent infections. That’s the reason why it is challenging for smokers to win against COVID-19.

Final Thoughts

To end this article on a positive note, allow me to announce that my aunt and her husband are already on the mend. They were in a scary phase in the last 14 days, but both eventually survived the worst symptoms of the coronavirus disease. 


If you do not want to end up in the same situation as my loved ones, you can do two things:

    • Stay at home
    • Stop smoking

Good luck!

Non-Alcoholic Pastimes While Under Quarantine

I can feel how much newly sober individuals may be struggling to stay away from alcoholic beverages during the quarantine. Your daily schedule is not jam-packed, but you can’t use your free time to go out. You can work from home, but it somehow takes a shorter period to finish than usual. Thus, you may always get tempted to drink your favorite alcohol to pass the time.

In reality, however, you can protect your sobriety by trying other time-consuming yet worthwhile activities.



One of the most carefree pastimes to consider is reading. You can do it as soon as you open your eyes, after lunch, before bedtime, and even while taking a dump. It is not restricted to paperbacks or hardbound copies, either. After all, Amazon Kindle, Kobo, and other online stores have a lot of titles in eBook format.

Have you found reading boring in the past? Well, it might be because you are trying to read an uninteresting book. Once you get ahold of a book that’s right up to your alley, you may not be able to step away from it.


People have never realized how significant clothing stores are until they have closed to prevent the coronavirus from spreading. The current situation is specifically troublesome for those who love wearing new clothes.


Well, a quick fix for this problem is learning how to sew. You can order a small sewing machine and some fabrics and watch tutorials online. Start with no-frills clothes like a sundress or tank top. When you get used to it, you may produce a full outfit, complete with a matching face mask.


Do you love pastries and desserts? Bakeshops can open during a quarantine since they provide food products, so you can go there anytime. However, in case you want to avoid human interaction as much as possible, you can bake your favorite goodies.

Baking should not be too difficult, especially if you already have an oven at home. Considering you have an oven toaster or microwave, that also works. Your creations don’t need to be bakeshop-material—they merely have to quench your cravings while passing the time.



Because of the quarantine, most people cannot go to parks and become one with the soil, grass, trees, and flowering plants. If you miss that, you may try gardening.

It should be easy to buy packets of seeds in the supermarket. You may plant them anywhere in the garden and tend to them every day. This process can take up your entire morning, so you won’t feel like pouring yourself a glass of wine in the middle of the day.


Napping is a pastime that you should never take for granted. Some think that it is only suitable for babies, but even adults can benefit from it. You can nap anytime during the day from five to 30 minutes to recharge your mind and body.


A little word of advice: schedule your nap several hours before bedtime. Putting a couple of hours between the two can make it challenging for you to sleep at night.

Final Thoughts

Your quarantine days can be similar to a box of chocolates. Say, you can look for a dessert recipe and recreate it today. Tomorrow, you may work on your garden from sunrise until the afternoon. The day after that, you can sew a new dress or pick an inspiring book. Of course, you should try to nap every day to feel more relaxed than ever.

You should be able to do all these pastimes while the community is still under quarantine. This way, you will be full of energy and extremely pumped to prove your skills when you return to work.

Why Sobriety Matters During A Pandemic

It has been almost a month since the last time that the sunlight has touched my skin. When Governor Newsom announced the stay-at-home policy in California, my family took it very seriously. Only one person can go out, and that happens to be my husband. Even so, he has only left the house twice to pick up the groceries that I have ordered online. We also have a covered garage, so I need not go outside to collect them from the back of the car.


Interestingly enough, it has also been almost a month since the last time that my husband and I have shared a drink. Before the COVID-19 outbreak, we used to pour a glass of wine (or three) for each other practically every night. We did not have an alcohol addiction; we merely liked drinking while talking about how our day went. It has always been a part of our bonding experience as a couple.

Since our family has been quarantined, our stress level is not high anymore, and we do not feel the need to drink at all. I believe this newfound sobriety of ours matters because of the following reasons:

Your Immunity Will Not Suffer

A lot of people drink in hopes of forgetting their worries or calming their nerves, especially when they feel uncertain about the future. Getting hungover does not feel great in whatever circumstance, but it makes folks feel a sense of normalcy. It’s as if they are saying, “A headache is too small of a price to pay for dealing with our situation.”


The problem with drinking during a pandemic, though, is that it does not help your immune system at all. The more alcohol there is in your body, the more your immunity will suffer. As you turn into an immuno-suppressed individual due to your drinking habits, you become prone to acquiring the coronavirus.

It Lets You Continue Doing Your Job Wonderfully

Many businesses have been forced to allow their employees to work from home during the quarantine. While some people use this opportunity to spend time with family, others assume that it is a fantastic excuse to drink day and night. After all, the manager won’t be there to reprimand them, and they don’t need to wake up for work in the morning.

Although there may not be too much to do right now, switching into chill mode entirely cannot be ideal. Your boss may still expect you to send a high-quality output at the end of your shift, you see. That cannot happen if you’re always nursing a hangover. If you don’t stay sober now, the alcohol may cost you your job.


Incredible Circumstances Won’t Pass You By

Imagine yourself opening packs of beer or a bottle of liquor and thinking, “I can finish this beverage in one sitting.” You do empty the bottle(s), pass out, wake up with a hangover, and then drink again. You stick to this routine because you believe that the quarantine will become more tolerable when you need not go through it sober.

The upside of not drinking while quarantined is that there is room for your loved ones in your schedule. They can talk to you coherently; you can bond with them in person or via FaceTime. Your relationships at this point might be better than ever, given that you don’t focus on wasting away during your free time.

Final Thoughts

I get it if you feel too afraid to handle the coronavirus news updates without an ounce of alcohol in your system. It seems challenging to receive positive information these days; the patient and death counts are both rising. Despite that, how can you avoid being part of these statistics if you don’t embrace sobriety now?

Top Student Coping Strategies From Academic Stress

The 2019 Academic Bee recognized not only the top spelling bee students in the country but also tackled the importance of coping from academic stress. If you worry too much about mastering your lessons or you’re too overwhelmed because of your upcoming stress, then it’s probably time to let go of all the stress. Listed below are the top student coping strategies from academic stress. 

Keep On Practicing


Admit it or not, students tend to put too much pressure on themselves whenever they commit mistakes. Keep in mind, however, that every failure is an opportunity to improve and learn more. What you should do is to treat your mistakes as an inspiration to be better. You can do this by practicing continuously and learning from it. 

Consistent practicing will not only enhance your knowledge but will also improve your time management skills. 

Create A Rewards System

Students tend to get bored and procrastinate whenever they have assignments and deadlines. Therefore, the best way to go about this is to create a rewards system. This strategy will inspire you to finish your tasks as soon as possible. 

For instance, you may give yourself sweets for every 15 pages of reading the textbook. Scientifically speaking, the excitement you feel from this will provide you with a little boost of endorphins, making you more encouraged to accomplish your task. 

Undergo Positive Self-talk

How you talk and treat yourself dramatically contributes to how you see and feel about yourself. If you belittle yourself, then there’s a significant possibility that you will start believing that internal critic. However, if you become your cheerleader and support yourself, then you will have more drive to achieve your goals. 

So, how does positive self-talk work? First, you state the things that you are thankful for upon waking up. Then, throughout the day, talk to yourself about what makes you an excellent person. It can be as simple as giving food to a homeless child or as big as helping a colleague with work. Do these exercises as well whenever negative thoughts enter your brain. 

Take Constant Breaks


Several students tend to study for consecutive hours on the objective of finishing early. However, studies show that this practice will only hamper your studying. The longer you take in a lot of information, the fewer details your brain can retain because of exhaustion. Therefore, constant breaks are vital. 

What do we mean by constant breaks? If you are doing your homework or studying for a test, make sure that you stop for 10 minutes for every hour that you are working. You can do whatever you like in this short time. You may opt to listen to music, nap for a while, or conduct breathing exercises. 

Always Have A Good Night’s Sleep

You won’t be able to concentrate if you weren’t able to have a good night’s sleep. It might be a little challenging to achieve this, especially if you are catching up with school work, but there are some strategies on how you can. 

One of which is to deny yourself from using any technological device before sleeping. Make sure that the last homework you’ll do is the one that does not require screen time. This way, you’ll be able to relax your brain quickly. 

If you are getting stressed with your endless academic papers and exams, make sure to follow the coping strategies above. Refresh your mind, and you’ll reach your educational goals in no time!

The Benefits Of Cooking Your Meal


The 2018 Lifestyle Workshop features quick and easy healthy food demonstrations and encourages you to create DIY real food. Even in your busy schedule, your health must be your top priority. Eating a healthy diet reduces your risk of illness, improves your memory and mood for the day. 

These days, most people often let the microwave do their cooking because they think the time spent in chopping ingredients is not worth it. However, cooking your meals is easy, cheaper, and can provide you with skills you will not get by depending on quick eating trends. Here are the following benefits of cooking in your life:

  • Cooking Your Meal Makes You Healthier

People who frequently do their cooking consume fewer calories than those who don’t. When you cook, you get to see the ingredients you’re using, making you more aware of the nutrients your body will receive. People who are less likely to cook their food often eat meals that lack proper nutrition. They often would get their food from fast-food restaurants, deliveries, or buy frozen food. Due to the less diversity found in their diet, they are more prone to weight gain, illnesses, and mood disturbance.

  • Cooking Saves Money

You’ll be surprised at how much you spend daily eating outside or waiting for deliveries to knock on your door. When you cook your meal, you buy your ingredients in the local market, giving you information on how much you are spending. You can save money by becoming more aware of the things you’re buying.

  • You’ll Learn New Skills And Enhance Your Creativity

You can expand your skills in the kitchen. You can learn essential recipes such as making simple soups, salad, or whole-grain dishes and learn techniques as well, such as cutting veggies, salad dressing, and also master the skill of gathering and preparing healthiest protein alternatives. Through cooking, you might find a hidden culinary interest within you, experiment as you try new ideas, and express yourself through the art of food preparation. 

  • It Can Improve Your Social Skills

Cooking with the people closest to you can improve your relationship as you all get involved in preparing your meal. You can create meaningful conversations and catch-up with your life stories. It can also motivate you to invite other people to cook or share a meal with you. You can find cooking as a liberating and enjoyable experience.