Practicing positivity

As quarantine and e-learning become the new normal for many students around the country, there are a lot of questions being asked about how this will affect teens. Students can no longer see their friends, fun end of the year events are being cancelled and many students are concerned about what will come in the fall. However, many students are using quarantine as an opportunity to try out new activities and are trying to make the most of the stay at home order.

A New Normal

Quarantine has been a trying time for everybody, especially students. All grades have lost something. Freshman lost the end of their first year in high school, sophomores miss out on their year to relax, the already stressed juniors have to push testing forward to senior year, and seniors miss out on the traditional send-off from high school. Along with new school pressures, students have to deal with regular life pressures. Whether it’s a sick relative, a lost job or the stress of not knowing what will happen next, everyone has something to worry about.

Finding Something To Do

Despite the stressful times, students are discovering new activities. With all of the additional time at home, students are exploring hobbies they never had time for previously. Senior Taylor Hall, has found a new interest in photography as a result of quarantine.
“To stay positive, I’ve been going outside for a few hours a day, because I love taking pictures outside,” Hall said. “I’ve been doing a lot more photography lately.”
Like Hall, many students have turned to art as a way to fill time. Another senior, Ally Pink, explained how she paints in her free time.
“I have started the mural in my room again,” Pink said. “It was kind of at a standstill during the school year. It’s been keeping me occupied, doing things with my hands tends to distract me enough.”
While some students are turning to art, others are spending their extra time with family. Junior Morgan Larson, said she is enjoying how much she gets to see her family now.
“I have been going on a lot of walks with my family to keep positive,” Larson said. “We have been eating breakfast and dinner as a family and playing a lot of board games.”
Whether you use quarantine to find a new hobbie or spend time with your family, Barrington students have found many useful ways to spend their extra time.

Why It’s Important

We all know that quarantine is boring, but how is all this time inside affecting us mentally? According to both Psychology Today and psychologist Samantha Brooks, the answer is very complex. A study was done on the effects of quarantine after the SARS scare in 2003. Healthcare workers who were put in quarantine for just nine days showed symptoms of acute stress disorder. In the same study, staff in quarantine showed symptoms of social detachment, anxiety, agitation, and insomnia. Scientists also reported the effect all of this has on healthcare workers. Nurses, doctors, and hospital staff all exhibited signs of PTSD due to the amount of stress they endured over a sustained period of time. A study done about quarantine and PTSD reported, “the mean post-traumatic stress scores were four times higher in children who had been quarantined than in those who were not quarantined.” The various studies and data continues on and on. To summarize it all, humans are social creatures, not meant to live in isolation. Although it is necessary to quarantine in order to stay safe, it takes a toll on everyone’s life and mental well-being.

What Can We Do?

Brooks explains that while it is easy to feel powerless in the situation we are all in, it is important to stay positive and informed. “Keeping people informed about the consequences of breaking the quarantine and explaining how isolation can actually save lives and benefit the community can turn quarantine from a scary nuisance into a truly meaningful act of altruism,” Brooks said.
She also explains that keeping busy with a hobby helps to pass time and stick to a routine. It’s important to remember that by social distancing, you are helping to reduce the number of cases and save lives.

The Aftermath

While it is unclear what the world will look like when we step out of quarantine, many high school students have varying ideas about what the future will look like. Senior Kailey Robinson, thinks social distancing might be here to stay.
“I think that, at least for a little while, people will be afraid of spending time with others because they’ve been conditioned to constantly fear getting sick,” Robinson said.
However, others have a more positive outlook on what will happen.
“I hate all the sickness and death, but quarantine has had a positive impact on the environment,” Pink said. “It’s amazing that only a short amount of time inside has made the world healthier. I hope people see this trend and continue it.”
No matter how you see the future, it’s important to remember that this will all end at some point. Soon we’ll get to see friends and family. Life will start returning to normal. What’s important now is to stay home, stay informed and stay positive.