How to keep up with your mental health in quarantine

I think we all know how difficult the quarantine has gotten, and we need to focus on keeping ourselves in the best state of mind.

Try to stay optimistic and keep looking forward. Dwelling on mistakes clouds the mind. It’s important to stay in the present, and look towards the future instead of the past.

It’s important to stay relaxed during this time. Avoid stress as much as possible as this can be as damaging to the mind as it is to the body. Most people know stress can cause anxiety which, if severe, can lead to depression.

But, what are some physical symptoms of stress? Mayo Clinic Staff has reported that stress can take a toll on the body just the same as the mind. It can cause eating disorders, muscle pain, body aches, continuous exhaustion, problems sleeping, and stomach pains.

It’s important to loosen up during the day; working can make you tense. While doing homework, or working on something that requires much focus and time, it’s always a good idea to take a break and assess how you’re feeling. Do something to relax yourself, whether it’s watching tv or getting a snack. Take time to get away from the task at hand and ease your mind from the work.

It’s just as important to keep your body fit as it is your mind. Try to devote some time in your weekly schedule to a bit of exercise. According to healthybrains.org it can be great for sleep problems and it’s known to b e a way to give you a boost in your mood.

Not only does exercise help the mind, but it does wonders for your health. Being active lowers your risk for getting heart disease as well as other heart problems. Maintaining your body weight healthily is also a good way to stay fit. 

Though we may need to stay at our homes, that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy some fresh air. Going into a backyard, on a balcony or porch, or even cracking open a window to feel the breeze are all fresh air options that are quarantine approved. It’s not always fun to stay cramped in a house for so long, a sweet gust of air can bring up your mood, especially during this beautiful spring season.

Any way you may be getting a taste of the outdoors, remember to stay cautious and keep a safe distance.

Online school

Recently, it was announced that Minnesota schools will be finishing out the 2019-2020 school year online. This means we will all be checking Schoology until June 9, doing various assignments, discussions, and tests for every class. Here are a couple of positive and negative things about the distance learning program.

One of the main benefits of doing online school is having flexibility for whatever tasks, and things that need to be done, while in quarantine. Instead of having one class after another in a timely manner at the school building, during online learning you can decide to eat lunch or walk your dog in between classes because it isn’t as structured as normal school.

Along with that, school most likely does not take you seven hours per day, as it normally would. Hopefully, this leaves everyone with more free time to go outside, relax for a little bit, or get other things done.

In addition to those benefits, another positive thing is that you do not have to do classes in the order of what your normal school day was like at school. This means you can choose to start with an easier class to just warm up your brain, or get harder assignments done earlier so that you can take on small, maybe even fun, assignments at the end.

But when there are positives, there are usually also negatives.

One of these cons is that it is harder to stay motivated and on task. Unlike at school, there are many more distractions and challenges you may face at home including: pets, electronics, and even the nice weather outside. This means that there is more responsibility on you to check Schoology often and to make sure work gets done and turned in on time.

Another negative effect of online school is that the internet and technology is the foundation of distance learning. The program is heavily reliant on the internet and using devices, such as your school iPad, to be checking and sending in responses and assignments daily.

Not only that, but when school is done online, you don’t have friends sitting next to you as they normally would in some classes, maybe making it lonelier, and even harder for some people.

Helping small businesses

During these times, there are a lot of people struggling. There are many ways that we can help these people who need us. Small businesses are having some troubles with maintaining pay and keeping up with rent. So, here are some good ways to help these small businesses. 

There are certain small business owners who have made gift receipts or gift cards available to keep buyers coming. Some other places are making gift baskets or bags to carry out to cars. This is a great way for business owners to keep transactions moving and a great way for us to get ahead on birthday and holiday gifts! 

A nice way to help out is to offer volunteering if you can risk working outside of your home. There are a few places that are offering carry out jobs. Just make sure, that if you decide to do this, that none of the people you’re around have pre-existing conditions or have a low immune system. 

Another nice way to help out a local shop is to leave a positive review on Yelp and on Google Location review spots. On March 24th, Yelp made a collaboration with GoFundMe so you can leave a good review and send some cash to your local businesses at the same time. 

You can tell your friends and family about how you are trying to assist a small business so they can help out too! Finding ways to post online, or even writing a suggestion in chalk outside, can really make the difference. You never know who might be looking to help too! 

The last thing you can do is a very good and easy way to just spread positivity and hope. You can find the address of your local place and send them a nice card or something to say thanks. Kindness can really go a long way. 

During these hard times we all need any help we can safely get, so make sure there are no negative vibes!

Stay hopeful, stay safe, stay positive! It will be okay!

Seniors missing graduation

Since the start of COVID-19 seniors have been a bit on the depressive side. Many seniors, including my own brother, have been in a panic when it comes to long distance graduation. My parents and my brother have been on the spectrum of trying to get prepared for the day of his virtual graduation.

When it comes to it, most of the seniors I know are really hurt right now. They’re upset that they are not able to have the graduation that they have been longing for their whole lives; the day where they are finally free from the whips of high school and are on to their new lives going on to be adults.

Not only are the seniors upset, but so are their parents and siblings. As a sibling, I’ve always awaited the time where I got to record my older sibling walk across the stage in their cap and gown. But since COVID-19, I am not able to have that experience. It’s also upsetting to my parents because they’ve longed for the day they were able to send my brother off to prom, and to see him walk across that stage.

Not only are seniors upset about graduation, but they were also upset that they weren’t able to have their prom. I’ve spoken to a couple of the 2020 graduates themselves and asked for their input on the matter.

Willie Wright Class of 2020 graduate 

I first had a conversation with none other than the man himself, (my brother) Willie Wright, a graduating senior at Como Park Senior High. Willie is a 2020 graduate with a football scholarship to Minnesota State University.  He said, “It’s so crazy because every other class year such as 2001-2019 got to walk across the stage, and I’m not able to. Those are the most memorable moments in our life. Even prom, and I wasn’t able to have that, hopefully this will all be over soon.”

Chaniyah Fenner Class of 2020 Graduate 

I then had the opportunity to speak with Chaniyah Fenner, a senior also at Como Park Senior High. She said that, “I am upset about the virtual graduation. I don’t like it at all, I understand that there’s a virus going on and everything, but they already took away our prom and senior night, and now they’re taking away our graduation. It’s just messed up.” 

William Albert Class of 2020 Graduate 

I then reached out and spoke to William Albert, who attends Gordon Park High School. He said, “I hate the thought of not being able to walk across the stage, but knowing there’s a strong system of people behind me who are willing to bend for my education, it drives me to do better and prosper moving forward.”

With all of this going on, at least the seniors have something good to look forward to. They get a graduation speaker, who is none other than the man himself, Barack Obama (which is something really amazing).

But I just hope that all the seniors aren’t too upset about this, and I hope they still have a great graduation at home.

How COVID-19 is affecting animal shelters across the nation

There is no question that COVID-19 is changing the world. COVID-19 has affected almost every aspect of our lives. While a majority of the population is in quarantine, and sheltering in place, many people have found themselves bored and lonely. One change that was not anticipated is the change in animal adoption rates. While people are stuck at home, many people are adopting and fostering shelter dogs and cats to keep them company. 

As coronavirus spreads across the U.S., an increasing number of people have stepped up to foster and adopt animals, keeping them out of shelters. 

According to NBC News, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has seen a 70 percent increase in animals entering foster care in New York City and Los Angeles programs compared to this time last year. Adoption centers like the Riverside County Animal Shelter have a beautiful problem according to Wired; they are all out of adoptable animals.

Well, why are people adopting animals now? 

The real reason is no mystery; as people are practicing social distancing, many have decided now is a perfect time to bring an animal into their home. As reported by Wired, some shelters have put out calls for people to adopt, but others have found that this surge is completely organic. An upwelling of kindness and care from the community plays a large part in helping these animals and shelters. People who didn’t have animals because of their work or travel schedule, or problems similar to these, now can adopt which is another cause for the surge. Many shelters have also waived adoption fees to try to ease financial strain on new pet parents affected by COVID-19. 

Wired further reports that animals can have an important role in brightening people’s lives, especially in a time like this. Although pets can’t completely fill the void left by isolation from other humans, they do provide emotional support. Pets fulfill the human need for touch and offer significant relief to people’s stress and anxiety levels. Pets can even lower your heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol levels leaving you feeling better. Animals like dogs are also able to motivate people to stick to strategies to help with isolation, like daily exercise and structure. 

However, it is not all good news. There is an increase in the amount of people surrendering their animals because of financial struggles, or because they are too ill to take care of them.

If you are looking for ways to help your local animal shelter, adoption and donations (like food and other important materials) are great ways to help. 

Desserts to make during the quarantine

By: La Dafia Dehaney

Looking for something to do or bake while under quarantine? Try these eight different desserts that will keep you busy and have you baking them over and over again.

  • Oreo Cake It’s a moist cake that is covered with Oreo whip cream frosting and is made up of chocolate layers with crushed Oreos in them.
  • Cheesecake is made of a mixture of Philadelphia Cream Cheese combined with eggs, flour, sugar, and water. The bottom layer of the cake is crushed crackers or cookies that you combine with butter and sugar. The toppings are usually strawberries or any type of berries. 
  • Trifle is an English dessert that came from England in the 18th century. This dessert is made with any type of fruit you want, and it has a layer of sponge fingers soaked in cherry.
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies originated in the United States. This dessert will include a dough that is made with butter and both brown and white sugar. You top it off with your pick of chocolate chips.
  • Ice Cream Cake is filled with ice cream and layers of sponge cake or cookie crumble in between them.
  • Apple Pie is just filled with apples that you combine with brown sugar and cinnamon and toss it up. It also includes a crust that you can make with water, butter, flour, and sugar.
  • Cinnamon Rolls are made up of a dough that is rolled into small portions and in between are sugar and cinnamon. You then bake it and top it off with some cream cheese and powdered sugar mixed together. 
  • A Banana Split is an ice cream dessert, it usually has a sauce of chocolate, strawberry, or caramel that you drizzle over the ice cream. You finish up this dessert by topping it off with some whipped cream and a maraschino cherry on top.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How can we stay connected while staying apart?

During this time of distancing and separation, lots of people have been having a hard time feeling like themselves while not being able to be with their friends. There are many different ways that we can stay in touch, while still respecting social distancing and stay at home guidelines.

The main way that many are holding on to some sense of normalcy, and staying in touch, is through social media platforms like: Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. These platforms are used by many, daily, to stay in the loop on important events in the lives of friends and family.

Another way that people are staying connected is through video messaging apps like: Facetime, House Party, and Zoom. House Party is an app like Facetime where the user can join group video calls through a free app that works on all smartphones, whereas Facetime only works between Apple devices.

Zoom, and other programs like it, such as Google Meets, have also grown in popularity over the last few months. These programs are not only how we get together to socialize, but many schools and businesses are also using these platforms to hold meetings and class time.

Writing letters has become more popular in the last few weeks, as an alternative to online communication. I think we all get at least a little excited when we get a letter in the mail. Care packages left on doormats are another kind way to let your friends or family know that you are thinking about them during this difficult time. 

We are all getting through this together. Other countries, and some states, are beginning to lift quarantine restrictions, so this is showing that we are slowly moving back to a semblance of normalcy.

Amazon, Whole Foods, Walmart, FedEx, Instacart, Shipt, and Target essential workers protest companies’ responses to COVID-19

On Friday, May 1, essential workers across the US called in sick in protest of Amazon, Instacart, Whole Foods, Shipt and Target’s response to COVID-19. The protests took place in: Staten Island, the California Bay Area, Los Angeles, Ohio, Kentucky, New York, Chicago, and Minnesota.

Organizers were asking for an increase in pay, expanded sick leave policies, and frequent professional cleaning. They also were asking for increased hazard pay, stricter social distancing measures, and transparency from companies on the number of workers who have tested positive for COVID-19 according to BusinessInsider.com

Many of these businesses are claiming that they have done their part in protecting their workers from the coronavirus. Shipt publicly claimed to have increased pay by 30 percent and that they provided protective gear. However, according to Wired.com, Willy Solis, organizer of that strike, said he had not received a mask from the company and the increase in pay was instead an increase in the amount of work he had to do. 

Amazon claims to have expanded their sick leave policies, but this was a temporary decision and only lasted until the end of April. Amazon also says that the majority of their essential workers disagree that the company isn’t doing enough to ensure their workers’ safety, as the majority would come into work May 1st. While this may be true, according to Wired.com, a large portion of essential workers were unaware that it was happening or were in disbelief that protesting would change the companies responses. 

It seems the disbelieving workers may be right, seeing as protests have not stopped or even slowed down business for companies according to Vox.com. In fact, business has only increased with the shelter-in-home orders, as many turn to online shopping and delivery so as to not risk contracting the virus from in-person stores. 

That being said, the worker’s strike has caught the attention and approval of various political figures including: Sen. Kamala Harris, Sen. Cory Booker, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Mayor Bill de Blasio, and State Attorney General Letitia James. 

We have not seen any further action taken by these companies in response to the strikes, but hopefully, with these political figures backing up essential workers, there will be more pressure on them to act, and in turn, the companies will greatly improve the working conditions for essential workers. 

Asteroid

By: Linda Tellez-Ruiz

In the morning, at 4:46AM, on April 29, an asteroid that goes by the name of ‘1998 OR2’ safely passed by earth. The asteroid was discovered in 1988. The asteroid was an estimated 1.2 miles wide and was moving at 19,461mph.

The asteroid was 16 times farther than the distance between the earth and the moon. So we were pretty safe and sure that it wasn’t going to hit us. Even though it wasn’t going to hit us, it was still labeled as potentially hazardous. Scientists label that dangerous because the asteroid came within 5,000,000 miles of the earth’s orbit.

We’re safe now but in 2079, the same asteroid will pass by us again 3.5 times closer than it did this year, and that is why scientists are monitoring its orbit to know where it is exactly. Scientists have been tracking it for the past two decades, and they know its orbital trajectory very precisely. With this information they know that there is no possibility that the asteroid will hit us in the next 200 years.

The worst thing that could happen is the asteroid changing its orbit, which is also changing its path, causing it to maybe pass by earth a lot closer. Close approaches like these are very very rare especially with the size of this asteroid.

Another thing that we know for sure is that astronomers have already discovered almost all asteroids about the size of 1998 or larger: 98% of them to be exact. And those are just the ones that will have a close encounter with earth, although it is very unlikely that they would have any impact.

If an asteroid was going to come in contact with the earth, astronomers have researched many techniques to keep that from happening, although that task would be very complicated depending on the size of the asteroid. One of the strategies to knock an asteroid off its course is to attach rockets to one that would steer it away from hitting us.

Another method is to shoot it. This method would not get it off its course.

Another way that is a lot more complicated, is capturing it inside an inflatable bag that would re-directed somewhere else.

How racism and poverty made Detroit a new coronavirus hot spot

By: Yanyoua Xiong

A report found in March, from the Pew Research Center, said that nearly 50% of black people, compared to 20% of white people, see coronavirus as a major threat to their health. Detroit has one of the largest African American populations in the country with 79% of the population African American. Even though African Americans make up only 14% of the population in Michigan, they make up around 40% of the deaths that occurred in that state.

Black people, of all ages, die in disproportionately higher numbers than white people in Detroit, due to asthma, heart disease, and other chronic lung disorders. Fabiola Cineas says the reasoning is because “hundreds of years of slavery, racism, and discrimination have compounded to deliver poor health and economic outcomes for black people.” 

Michigan’s governor, Gretchen Whitmer, commented on the difference in treatment of people of color and non people of color, “From basic lack of access to health care, transportation, and protections in the workplace, these inequities hit people of color and vulnerable communities the hardest. This task force will help us start addressing these disparities right now as we work to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan.” 

In the ‘50s and ‘60s, Detroit was mostly white but we can start to see a shift in demographics with suburbanization and “white flight.” For some reason though, that didn’t decrease redlining and black people are still more likely than whites to be denied a loan today. 

However, it’s not just in Detroit but across the United States where inequalities between skin colors lead to experiencing higher numbers of COVID-19 cases. The death rates from COVID-19 are also disproportionate (by race) in places like Milwaukee, Georgia, and New York City.

Evidence of disadvantage is everywhere in Detroit: there are dozens of food banks, empty homes, and thousands of water shutoffs due to people being unable to pay their water bills. Detroit has remained one of the most segregated cities in the country despite being in a pandemic and it really shows.