As parts of the world are opening up – with varying degrees of success – we’re finally transitioning into the new normal. Looking back on our months in isolation, it’s clear to see that the world has changed a lot. We’re half way through 2020, and despite not having done much, it’s like we’re living in a different reality. That can take a toll on our mental health. Thank goodness we humans – a highly adaptable species – have discovered some pretty ingenious pandemic coping methods.
Screaming into the void
There’s nothing quite as liberating as releasing all your energy into a good long scream. It’s a trope we see in movies all the time. Now, you can do it too – digitally! Not to mention, you can listen to a bunch of other people releasing their own pandemic angst in the same way!
Scream Club is a website that allows visitors to scream endlessly into the digital abyss, along with others from around the world. You can also listen to the bored, frustrated, or angry cries of all the visitors before you.
Kevin Truong, writing for Vice, describes the plethora of scream styles that people adopt:
“There’s the long prolonged scream that one would imagine accompanies someone falling off the edge of a cliff—arms flailing wildly in the air. There is also the more subdued “Ah” that’s more akin to the sound a person makes when they open up their mouth so a doctor can check their throat. And of course, there’s the deep and primal scream that comes as someone lays bare their true feelings about the current state of the world.”
This website, more than anything, seems to sum up how most of us are feeling about this year.
Baking Sourdough and Banana Bread
Times have been tough. Somehow, the natural response to that has been to bake bread.
The baking obsession hit so many of us unexpectedly, that for a long time it was extremely common to hear friends complaining that “I haven’t been able to find yeast” or “why is it so hard to get hold of whole-wheat flour lately?”. But why is it that we all jumped on board the bread train? Surely not just because we saw a couple of influencers doing it on the ‘Gram?
“Bread baking is a thing we do in a crisis”, writes Emily van der Werff for Vox. “Perhaps because bread is one of the very foundations of human civilisation, and perhaps because it has been marketed to us as life-giving”.
“There is a satisfaction to bread,” she writes, “to watching dough slowly grow, to seeing it brown up in the oven, to slicing into a loaf and sharing it with those you love or just eating it yourself. The world is scary and uncertain. Bread is just science. Or it’s magic. Or it’s both”.
The process of kneading your loaf of bread can be therapeutic and even offer some much needed quarantine exercise. Not to mention, the smell of a freshly-baked bread is an extremely comforting aroma. Surpassed only by how comforting it is to eat said bread (carbs in general, am I right?).
So, no need to feel guilty about all the sourdough you’ve been consuming. Let’s embrace the baking frenzy for what it is: an excellent pandemic coping method to fight off the COVID-19 blues.
Bring in the bots
Considering the way this year as been going, the robot uprising is imminent – and this is how it starts.
Having to move all our social interactions to the digital realm has been tough for many of us. Imagine, then, how lonely it must be for our grandparents who don’t even know what Zoom is. Cue the bots.
With their rapidly ageing population, it’s no surprise that Japan is leading the way when it comes to therapeutic robots. Creations like Lovot and Paro are designed to stimulate the senses similarly to the way pets do – without their owner having to worry that their pet will die if it doesn’t get fed.
Sandra Petersen, a program director for the University of Texas at Tyler’s nursing department, told Kate Knibbs from Wired that she uses the bots regularly with her elderly patients.
“The role of social robots like Paro is becoming more important, especially as we see this sector of our population targeted by this virus,” she says. “It’s built for a time such as this.”
Knibbs writes that “Petersen has studied the robot’s effects on people with Alzheimer’s disease, and she found that Paro reduced reliance on psychotropic drugs, improved blood pressure and oxygenation levels, and stirred the emotions of patients who otherwise often appeared disconnected.”
Fluffy robots might not be the perfect replacement to real human company, but in times like these, it’s certainly better than nothing. Not to mention, as technology improves, these creations are becoming more and more engaging and lifelike.
As far as pandemic coping methods go, this one’s the cutest. Further perks include not having to clean out a litter tray every day.
Of course, with all the stress and anxiety of this pandemic its no surprise that some have embraces less beneficial pandemic coping methods. Research in the USA found that a significant number of people reported increasing their alcohol and marijuana intake as a means to cope.
Personally, these seem like boring and cliche ways to distract oneself. I’d much rather eat fresh sourdough and play with a cute robot. When I tire of that, perhaps I’ll scream at my laptop screen for a bit.