While the world is self-isolating in the fight against the novel Coronavirus I find that people’s mental health is at risk of be ignored in this battle. You don’t have to suffer from generalized anxiety to start feeling slightly on edge in this dystopian reality we’re facing.
All public institutions in Denmark are on lockdown, meaning that my Korean classes are suspended and my economics classes are taught online. Moreover, the borders are closed for four weeks, further adding to a general sense of crisis and anxiety.
It may be hard enough for anyone but if you already suffer from occasional anxiety symptoms, this situation is less than ideal. We need to address the impact on people’s mental health just as much as we focus on reinforcing habits of proper hand hygiene and social distancing.
So, what do I do to stay (somewhat) sane in this chaos? The general mindfulness advice of breathing and focusing on your body does not apply here. Focus too much on your body, and any sensation can feel like the onset of Corona. Rather, I find that shifting my focus to something completely unrelated is much more helpful. When I feel negative thoughts and fears overpower me, I try to force my brain to stay occupied with something entirely unrelated. In acute cases, I find that running through the alphabet and naming three words with each letter helps calm my mind. When you try to think of words, you cannot possibly think scary thoughts at the same time.
Being a Korean learner also helps me a lot. Immersing myself in a Korean book or drama also helps shift my focus away from myself and my racing thoughts. I’m currently watching “Crashlanding on you” on Netflix and I’m in love. I never truly understood all the hype around Hyun Bin until now, but I surrender. That guy is amazing! Allowing myself to disappear in this inter-Korean love story is a wonderful escape from reality.
Reading a chapter in a book and then going over all the new vocabulary in my head is also extremely helpful. I also like to play a game with myself where I see how many Korean proverbs and idioms I can remember.
In general I think it’s important to try and maintain a sense of normal everyday life even while self-isolating / social distancing. After breakfast I usually work for 1-2 hours on preparing my econ classes. Then I like to take a walk to get some fresh air. I’ve recently started to wear a mask whenever I leave my house. I don’t care what the Danish authorities say about masks being unnecessary. It gives me a sense of protection and I’ll wear it if I want to.
After lunch, I spend my time on studying Korean. Either watching Korean news, my Netflix drama, reading a novel, or actively studying with textbooks or TTMIK. I feel like I need to make the most of this time at home and I encourage all of you Korean learners out there to do the same. Whether you study actively or watch a Korean drama you’ll be sure to improve your language skills.
I also spend a lot of time in my kitchen trying out new recipes. It seems that there are so few things within our control these days that I like to control whatever little I can. For example eating tasty and nutritious food that I enjoy.
My beloved eternal soulmate Geonha used to sing the song ‘Yanghwa Bridge’ by Zion T. to me when he wanted to cheer me up. Especially because he was the one who taught me this song, I find it extra comforting in times like these and I listen to it often. The chorus couldn’t be more appropriate: 행복하자, 우리 행복하자 – 아프지 말고 (Let’s be happy, let’s be happy – don’t be sick.)
I’ll share a version with lyrics with you here. Stay safe and healthy everyone! How are you all dealing with the current events? I’d love to hear your tips in the comments! 화이팅!!