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Healthy Active Minds is remaining  virtually active  for the rest of the semester to continue to help students combat stress despite multiple activities getting canceled due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. 

Celia Winchester, faculty advisor of Healthy Active Minds, said since the club cannot meet in person, they have been meeting virtually. 

“We are interacting with each other through Zoom and GroupMe, and discussing plans for the upcoming fall semester,” said Winchester. 

She said the club also posted a 5 minute meditation video to teach students the proper way to meditate so they can use it as a way to relax during the quarantine. 

“The 5 minute guided meditation [is posted] on the Healthy Active Minds canvas page, and the Student Activities page,” said Winchester.

She said that one of the activities that were canceled was a yoga/meditation session for students, similar to the one they hosted a few months ago. 

“We were [also] going to conduct a yoga/meditation session just for faculty and staff as a way to help them wind [down] at the end of the semester,” said Winchester. 

She said that it is important to stay active online during this time to help students deal with the added stress and anxiety caused by the pandemic. 

“Our club has always tried to spread the message that [exercising], meditation, and getting sun can be very helpful in reducing some of the negative feelings [someone] may have,” said Winchester. 

She said that she wants students to be aware that all is not lost and though life may be tough right now, we are all here to support each other. 

“A lot of students deal with stress and anxiety on a daily basis, [even]when there is not a pandemic going on. It is even more necessary to connect now, than ever before, so students can have something familiar, and a place where they can interact with their peers, and express their feelings and ideas,” said Winchester. 

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stress during an outbreak can elicit fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones. This can cause a change  in sleep,  eating patterns, difficulty concentrating, worsening of chronic and mental health conditions, and an increased use of drugs and alcohol. 

According to the CDC website, students, including children and teens, are among those who may respond  strongly to the stress of the crisis due to concern about oneself and their loved ones, feeling isolated, misinterpreting information, loss of their jobs and keeping up with school. 

Nicolette Filannino, a student at MCC, said the transition to online classes has been one of the most difficult parts of the quarantine for her. 

“The adjustment to online classes has made me feel more lazy and incapable of focusing on my classes or being interested in learning. [Also], hearing my peers and classmates’ different opinions and thoughts help me learn more and makes classes more enjoyable, so this transition really affected my education,” said Filannino. 

According to the CDC website, parents are advised to watch for changes in their child’s actions including excessive crying, returning to behaviors they’ve outgrown, irritability, poor school performance, unexplained headaches and avoiding activities they enjoyed in the past. 

According to the CDC website, “the best ways to support your child is to talk to them about the outbreak, answer questions, reassure [them] that they are safe, limit [their] exposure to news coverage, keep up a regular routine and be a role model.”

Kayla Martin, another student at MCC, said one of the most challenging parts of the quarantine has been trying to protect her 6-year-old brother from hearing too much information about COVID-19. 

“My parents and I have explained to him the basics of what is happening at this time, [but] we want to make sure that he doesn’t get too stressed or worried about it, since it is such a traumatic experience to go through at a young age. We try to keep up a routine around the home as well [so that] he has a good balance of school time and leisure time,” said Martin. 

For more information about Healthy Active Minds contact Celia Winchester at CWinchester@middlesexcc.edu or visit the CDC website at cdc.gov, which has specific guidelines on how to cope with quarantine and stress. 

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