One year ago, I told my friends, “Bye! Ingat kayo ha!” All of us probably thought that we’d see each other again after a week – but it never happened. What once was a week-long lockdown turned into months. The transition to the digital world has not been kind to everyone in many ways. In terms of online interactions, sometimes these don’t feel as real or impactful as on-site interactions. As a shy and introverted person, I found it awkward to build new connections and maintain my friendships in an online setting. Sure, it’s still fun, but it could never replace the feelings I get when I’m physically with my friends. It can’t replace the warmth that people give off when we’re with them.
Photo by Kaushal Moradiya from Pexels
Given the nature of this pandemic, we are forced to stay at home and socially distance ourselves. As much as possible, we minimize the time we spend outside of our house by doing essential things such as grocery shopping. We also can’t meet up with our friends due to the fear of the virus. We’re pretty much isolated. In one study by Cashin (2021), unsurprisingly, 61% of adults in America admittedly felt loneliness amidst the pandemic. Similarly, in another study by Labrague, De Los Santos, and Falguera (2020), Filipino college students also felt both social and emotional loneliness amidst the pandemic.
But not everyone has given in to the despair and loneliness that the pandemic has brought to us. We all learn to adapt and find new ways to connect and bond with each other. Here are a few tips on maintaining friendships amidst the pandemic.
Photo by Yan Krukov from Pexels
Proposed Solutions First, be intentional and proactive about spending time with your friends. Recently, Discord has been rising in popularity. It is a virtual hangout place where servers (think of it as group chats!) can be created. Under the servers, several channels can be made. These can be renamed and categorized into certain topics like rules, introductions, gaming, etc. You have the option to either make it into an audio/video conference or chat channel. Through this, it’s possible to set up bonding activities using Discord like studying together, playing together, watching a movie, and listening to music. This makes it easier to bond with friends who have similar interests. There is also the option to customize emojis, and some groups of friends have been making themselves memes or reaction pictures to liven up the chat.
Here’s another tip: if you and your friends are gamers, then this is a good space to play and talk about strategies. After all, it’s really easy to talk with your friends here through voice channels. There are also games that welcome and recognize Discord, so the process of actually talking with your friends is much smoother and easier. People have also been playing multiplayer games to bond with each other. Some examples include Valorant, Call of Duty Mobile, Mobile Legends, Genshin Impact, etc.
Photo by Ivan Babydov from Pexels
Next, it’s also important to be available for your friends. The quarantine halted a lot of jobs, so there were a few families whose financial situation was threatened. A lot of small businesses and side gigs started to show up, so if your friend has something like this, it would be good to support them by promoting their businesses and consuming their products/services.
Another way to support your friends is being emotionally available to them. During the pandemic, it’s a common anecdote that people are drained from work and school. There are even those who are worried that they or a relative/family member may have contracted COVID-19. Some may even have to deal with the grief following the passing of a dear family member or friend due to various reasons including COVID-19. In such cases, one’s peers can be the emotional support that may help them go through this sad event in their lives.
To sum it up, some ways we can maintain our friendships amidst the pandemic is virtually bonding with them and being a pillar of support in various ways. But of course, setting boundaries and having personal time to properly process emotions is also important! We don’t want to dump trauma on each other. If left alone, this toxicity may build up and become a miasma for the overall well-being of a person. It’s precisely during these times that we must remain patient, kind, and understanding towards one another.
Without a doubt, the pandemic has affected our lives in various ways. It has caused most of us to stay indoors, transition from face-to-face to work-from-home set-ups, and find other means of income in order to ensure that we are safe and healthy. The news reports on the virus’ progress with reminders on how to protect ourselves in our day to day activities. Although this is significant information there’s another important discussion that needs attention and that is how the pandemic has affected the goals and aspirations of college students who are graduating. Given the current situation of the world, it is important to discuss the situation of the youth today, the paths that they can take after they graduate, and the ways in which they can be assisted.
Current Situation of the Youth
According to the statistics of the Commission on Higher Education, as of October 2020, there were 718,880 graduates who completed their bachelor’s degree. Despite having this number of graduates, the reported unemployment rate last October 2020 was 8.7%, with college graduates taking up 24.0% of the unemployed. Along with the threat to their health, uncertainty is another enemy that college graduates are facing during the pandemic (Cepeda, 2020).
The spread of the virus has not only prevented college graduates from receiving their diploma onstage and having a grand celebration but has also caused them to rethink their future plans and hopes for employment. Their transition into adulthood has also been interrupted because the lockdown means that they can no longer engage in youth-related and social activities (Cleofas, 2020). According to Cleofas (2020), the “new normal” can affect the psycho-emotional development of the youth as it interferes with social functions, leisure events, and causes the youth to have an unclear vision of their future.
Moreover, the mandatory lockdown can also cause fatigue among college students. Labrague and Ballad (2020), state that college students are experiencing moderate levels of fatigue which is manifested through exhaustion, headaches, body pain, decreased motivation, and increased worry. Clearly, the pandemic can significantly impact the mental health and well-being of the youth and it is for this reason that it is important for this topic to be discussed and addressed. It is important for the youth to be informed about possible opportunities they can take after they graduate and how they can take care of their well-being in the process.
Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom
Paths the Youth Can Take
Despite the difficulties posed by the pandemic, the youth still try to find ways to get by after graduation and one of these ways is job hunting. In an article by Cepeda (2020), several young adults were interviewed about their experience of applying for a job. Two of the interviewees said that they can’t recall how many companies they’ve applied to.
They relayed that it has been hard to keep track with the status of their applications because mostly the responses are just computer-generated. In addition to this, the present state of businesses also makes it difficult for them to respond to applications leaving applicants to keep looking for other companies. In the same article by Cepeda (2020), another two interviewees shared that although they were able to get a response and schedule an interview, they ended up being disappointed. This is because they were told that the company they applied for preferred experienced workers as opposed to fresh graduates as fresh graduates would be difficult to train virtually. These experiences have caused feelings of guilt and regret in the youth. Not being able to find a job has made them feel like a burden to their family and has also caused them to look back and wish that they had done things differently before the pandemic. In spite of this, the youth perseveres and keeps up the hope that things will get better as the years go by.
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels
Another path the youth can take after graduation is volunteering. In 2020, Constantino listed different organizations where anyone, even the youth, can lend a hand. One of these is the youth-led movement called Bantay Bayan which is a citizen-watchdog and legal assistance program where volunteers monitor and report the responses and actions of all local government units in the Philippines. The goal of this movement is to make sure that the government does not use the pandemic as an excuse to commit corruption.
Aside from Bantay Bayan, another organization, the Advocates of Science and Technology for the People (AGHAM) is doing its part in making sure that all citizens are properly informed about the pandemic. Their goal is to make any information on COVID-19 accessible for every Filipino by translating any infographic posters containing COVID-19 updates from English to various Filipino languages. The youth can volunteer in these organizations and any other movements but it is also important for them to know that lending a hand can be done even in the smallest ways. Whether it’s through supporting online businesses or creating online content to connect with other people; the youth can make a huge difference when they decide to step up.
Current Initiatives Given the state of the youth today, there are also initiatives created by the government and private companies to uplift the youth. Rodriguez (2020), states that Emilio Paz who is the Country Program Manager of Plan International Philippines recommended that the government include youth economic empowermentin conducting COVID-19 response operations.
Moreover, last July 27, 2021 the Asian Development Bank approved a $400 million policy-based loan to support the Philippine government’s efforts in expanding youth employment and skills programs to assist the youth in finding quality jobs (Asian Development Bank, 2021). Aside from assistance from the government and the private sectors, the youth should not forget that they themselves can also provide upliftment to their fellow youth. Edren Illiano, a youth leader says; “my message for the youth is share your God-given gifts. No one will start the progressive change but you” (World Vision, 2021). Whether it’s through job-hunting or volunteering their time, it is important now more than ever that the youth are involved and helping each other get through these difficult times.
About the Author: Jillian Navarrete is an undergraduate intern at In Touch. She studies Bachelor of Science in Psychology at De La Salle University Manila. After graduating, she aims to become a registered psychometrician and after that, work towards a masters degree in order to become a registered psychologist. In her spare time she likes to read fiction novels and watch movies & tv shows.
Adolescence, the time to be young, the time to make mistakes, the time to go out there are to discover yourself.
20… Young adulthood, the time to find someone, the time to build a relationship, the time to give and receive romantic love.
The times as theorized by Erik Erikson (1950) stood corrected by the pandemic. At 20(20), the time stopped. Time was forced to stray off its natural course and therefore steer us from the direction we have been accustomed to. The time we are all in now is different.
And the challenge is to be at par with this “new” time. Our daily challenge is to live as normally as possible, to do business as usual, to follow the routines we built. But, my problem with it is that it is difficult to pretend that everything is the same when everything is actually the complete opposite.
In this present time, I am living the life antithetical to my optimal and absolute self. My mind stays in the city, but my body does not. I have grown to love the hustle and bustle of the city life: noisy and crowded streets, beautiful city lights, and the nightlife, but I had to go back to my hometown and settle in the quietness and stillness of life in the province. My heart beats for the outdoors; walking around and seeing malls and skyscrapers, sunlight hitting my cheeks, and doing activities that make my blood rush through my veins, but unfortunately, my immune system does not align with what I want to do since COVID is the one lurking around.
With this mismatch, I raise the question:
How can I then live normally? How can I take back the time that was taken from me?
How can I take back my youth?
The short answer is to.
TO. /to͞o,tə/ infinitive marker 1. used with the base form of a verb to indicate that the verb is in the infinitive 2. used without a verb following when the missing verb is clearly understood.
The long answer is tocreateyour own youth.
Consider yourself. Your likes, your passions, your happiness, your goals. Realize your potential. Try new things and discover new skills and abilities. Envision the thing/s you want to create. Acknowledge and accept reality. This is what is happening in your life right now, and this is what you will do about it. Take a breath. There is the constant inclination to be productive, but you have to keep in mind that resting and taking a break is also productive. Enjoy. Afterall, to create being able to be your true self.
As for me, I best translate this built up energy for the world outside my home through art and writing. Icreatethrough journaling.
Each one of us has the capacity to create anything we want and the beauty of this is that you can never go wrong with creating. Nothing you create has ever existed and so, the rightness or wrongness of what you created cannot be determined.
As the saying goes: Do whatever it is that you want as long as you are not hurting anybody and you are not doing it for the detriment of another person. This applies in creating as well. While creating is all about doing the things you want to do and making yourself feel in control in uncertain times such as this, there can still be the question of motivation.
How do I get out of a downward spiral?
As you already know, the short answer is "to".
The long answer for this is still to create. You just have to create a spiral that only goes up.
Everyday is always a new swirl in your spiral. Each revolution around this spiral holds a lot of opportunities, chances, and possibilities to create. Creation does not always have to be something grand: you can create a new cup of coffee everyday, surely the water level is different or the amount of beans you put varies each day. You can simply create imagery in your head, create a vision of the future where we can all safely go outside, imagine the time going back in our favor.
Until then, continueto.
About the Author:
Diandra Rengel is currently a 4th year BS Psychology student in Ateneo de Manila University.
She aspires to serve in the medical field and become a practitioner that emphasizes on the importance of psychological and mental health in both prevention and cure of physiological diseases. With the motto, “It is what it is,” she always tries to make the most out of the present and be both thankful and understanding of the things that are happening around her. She believes that it is important to stay grounded and to continue to have hope.
Sources: Erikson, E. (1950).Childhood and society.W. W. Norton & Company. To. (n.d.).Oxford Languages.https://languages.oup.com/google-dictionary-en/.
Up to this day, the psychological field still recognizes the loss of control over gaming and excessive gaming as a mental illness, called Gaming Disorder in the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11).
Furthermore, playing video games could also mean that you are more exposed to toxic behaviors. Every now and then, you’ve come across mean players who say foul words or have unsportsmanlike behaviors in your games. Video game players are susceptible to online harassment, bullying, and marginalization (that is, being excluded in online communities). It’s important for you to know when playing video games are becoming too unhealthy and what you can do to prevent these negative effects from happening to you.
Don’t worry! We have a few tips you could follow for healthy gaming:
Choose The Right Games For You
There are plenty of games out there that fit your playstyle! If you’re a curious person and would love to learn new stories, try out open-world or adventure games. If you’re the type of person who loves ‘me time’, fast-paced games will really catch your attention. If you want to refine your problem-solving skills and critical thinking, try out role-playing and strategic games. There are also games designed for certain mental health issues that aim to reduce negative symptoms.
Take Advantage of Features That Discourage Bad Behavior
If you feel that the people in your game are becoming toxic, turn off the chat feature or mute them! In some games you can also report these rude gaming behaviors and ask for support.
Establish Ground Rules
This doesn’t only apply to parents and their children, but even to adult gamers! It’s important to set rules such as buying or not buying in-game items, when to interact with other people, and when to stop playing. For the parents, talk with your kids about some ground rules like “they could only play video games if they complete their other responsibilities like school work” or “they could only play for about one to two hours every day”.
For the adult games, always listen to what your body and mind says. When you play, ask yourself “How do I feel?”, or “How is this game affecting me right now?”, or “Should I be taking a break?”. Remember, self-care is important, and there are other ways to do so than just purely playing video games.
Don’t Forget About Other Activities
Keeping your health in tip-top shape is still important! Don’t forget to maintain a balanced diet, exercise, and proper sleep. Don’t let go of your other hobbies either. Lastly, always remember to take a break from playing video games
Video games have been instrumental in keeping our mental health in check. Not only does it provide us a way to calm ourselves down, achieve more, and connect with others, it helps keep us safe from the virus. We must also keep in mind that these benefits are felt if we practice healthy gaming habits. We don’t know when this pandemic will end, but like many games out there, we will all become victorious.
About the Author: At the time that this article was published, Jonas Calimlim is an undergraduate student at De La Salle University - Manila taking up AB Psychology and BS Finance. He loves to play video games, is an avid sports enthusiast, and loves doing photography.
Growing up, he became interested in learning about mental health and is aiming to be a part of the many mental health advocates we have in our country. He believes that exploring and sharing what we know about mental health can be instrumental in the growth of ourselves, our community, and our country.
A year into the COVID-19 Pandemic...and still counting.
The pandemic has taken a toll on the lives of many people across the globe. Gone (at least for now) are the days where we could safely leave our homes, gather with friends and simply live life to the fullest without worrying about contracting the virus. Now, most of us are in our own “bubbles'', trying to make do with the situation we’re in right now. Most people have resorted to trying out new hobbies, like cooking more often or discovering the wonders of being a plantito/plantita, while others have resorted to picking up old hobbies. There are also people, especially the youth & adolescents, who turn to a place for ultimate comfort and excitement; somewhere that isn’t an actual place in our society to begin with: Video Games.
Even prior to the pandemic, video games have been held infamous for being a source of addiction and bad habits for young people. They’re heavily stigmatized for providing these people with dream-like worlds to roam in, detaching them from the real world. As a result, many people see games as something anti-social and a waste of time. But that’s only one side of the story, and during this pandemic, the focus has shifted from games being an unhealthy pastime to something meaningful and helpful.
The Pandemic and the Changes It Brought
One of the psychological impacts of COVID-19 is the anxiety it instills onto people because of fears of contracting the virus and doubts of the near future, among others. This is very much prevalent in the younger generation, with studies reporting that depression and anxiety spiked during the pandemic due to social isolation, continuous disruptions in school activities, missed milestones in their young lives, and concerns over the prolonged and possible impacts of the pandemic (Molano, 2021; Tee et al., 2020). As a result, many young people turn to video games to alleviate these anxieties in numerous ways. If you can recall, you might have seen, heard, or played certain games that were trending during this pandemic: Animal Crossing, Genshin Impact, Mobile Legends, Valorant, Among Us, the list goes on and on. These diverse games have been the source of happiness for many of us, especially the younger generation, during these times, and the reasons why are quite diverse as well.
Why Video Games One way is that video games provide us with a sense of comfort and peace. Maybe sometimes you feel amazed by how beautiful the game’s environment is designed, or have felt relaxed or energized with the game’s background music. In an interview with Dr. Aimee Daramus, she said most of these games “...take up so much of your attention that they can push your anxieties away for a while.”. I play Animal Crossing every now and then just to take in the scenery of the island; the flowers and animals, seeing virtual characters (or ‘Villagers’) approach and suddenly smile at my own character, the weird and wacky designs I made all throughout my island (which I don’t plan to remove anytime soon). However you experience it, take some moments to really appreciate it and try to observe how you feel.
Video games also offer a sense of achievement and progress. Again, something so subtle is probably helping you so much. You might have seen the taskbar or task list in games get filled with activities you could try and accomplish. As a result, you feel immersed in trying to complete the task until -- poof! You see that task checked off your list and move on to the next.
You might have also seen the victory screen time multiple times, and as you gain those victories you earn different in-game rewards, maybe it’s a costume or skin for your favorite character, or simply a virtual trophy or a medal. It’s also important to remember that you could achieve these things however you want to, which also gives you a sense of autonomy. Plus it looks fun if you do achieve things your way! Although it shouldn’t replace the goals you’ve set for yourself in real life, these smaller and virtual goals could temporarily fill the void of your real-life goals that seem out of reach because of the pandemic.
What gaming has been well-recognized for, especially during this pandemic, is that it allows people to interact and forge new bonds with others. But how, you say, because going outside and hanging out with friends and crowds isn’t advised? Simple: Virtual Spaces and Online Communities!
Making Connections through Gaming
A lot of games nowadays have social features where you could invite friends and share your creations on social media for the world to see. Some have in-game chats where you could share anything and everything with friends and other people who have the same interests as you do. In essence, we’d feel that we’re together with these people even if they’re not physically with us. It’s like catching up with our friends on campus or meeting a new friend in a physical event. Contrary to what I’ve mentioned earlier about video games being labeled as anti-social, video games nowadays serve as an avenue for social interaction; communities helping each other, and reaching out to people who are in need of emotional and social support.
In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO), together with large video game developers, launched the #PlayApartTogether campaign to encourage physical distancing by bringing events, rewards, and inspiration to many of the popular games we have today. This has been a monumental step in the right direction between gaming and mental health. According to Activision’s CEO Bobby Kotick, games are the perfect platform to connect people in a safe manner, and that games connect people “...through the lens of joy, purpose, and meaning.”
I’ve rambled on about how games have been beneficial to our mental health during these times, but I know that too much of a good thing can be harmful; the same applies for gaming. Some games are still linked to aggressive and violent tendencies, excessive gaming can still lead to different negative mental health effects like stress, anxiety, depression, and harmful behaviors.
Video games have been instrumental in keeping our mental health in check during this pandemic. Not only does it provide us a way to calm ourselves down, achieve more, and connect with others, it helps keep us safe from the virus. We must also keep in mind that these benefits are felt if we practice healthy gaming habits. We don’t know when this pandemic will end, but like many games out there, we will all become victorious. So until then…
About the Author: At the time that this article was published, Jonas Calimlim is an undergraduate student at De La Salle University - Manila taking up AB Psychology and BS Finance. He loves to play video games, is an avid sports enthusiast, and loves doing photography. Growing up, he became interested in learning about mental health and is aiming to be a part of the many mental health advocates we have in our country. He believes that exploring and sharing what we know about mental health can be instrumental in the growth of ourselves, our community, and our country.