Finding Inner Peace in Uncertain Times

By: Allison Arnzen

September 17, 2020


Sunset over Temecula neighborhood.
Sunset over Temecula. By Allison Arnzen

Suggestions to help recenter and focus, easing the stressors of COVID-19 and the online transition to the new semester.

Throughout 2020, a global pandemic has created unprecedented times in the lives of individuals throughout the world. To help ease the impact of COVID-19, finding activities to create calm and bring individuals in tune with themselves may help contribute to comforting these feelings of worry.

Beyond the impact of Covid-19, students face additional challenges in navigating an online semester. This includes adapting to the online environment, which has led to a new shift from the face-to-face college campus setting. Learning the online format and curriculum from home, managing classes, and balancing a personal, work, and/or student life are among new challenges students are now facing.

One way to help calm anxiety and peace for students includes setting boundaries. For many, asserting a scheduled time and location to dedicate towards online schooling and studying helps differentiate the home versus work environment. By creating these boundaries, students may find better focus their time spent on assignments. Alongside this, internal stressors may be alleviated as we become in tune with feelings and expectations through the use of a routine to navigate the current predicaments.

Busy desk with laptop and assignments.

Student desk. Source: Website

Ilene S. Cohen, PhD in her article in Psychology Today called “Setting Boundaries During Coronavirus” offers advice for people-pleasers during these times. Cohen encourages individuals to bring awareness to personal boundaries, communicate them clearly, and remember that it is okay if others aren’t happy with your boundaries as you make yourself and your health a priority.

Another way to decrease the worry during Covid-19 is to keep moving. Keeping active is a way to ensure the mental and physical benefits and show a decrease in “levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem.” While exercising releases endorphins, it is a tool in providing a break while finding time to spend time focusing on one’s self. Finding the right choice for you will lead to individualized benefits. Taking a walk throughout the neighborhood or through a nature trail gives a change of scenery and gets your blood flowing. Play and interact with any pets you may have. In the article “Physical Activity Reduces Stress, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America found that, “…if your body feels better, so does your mind. Exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins—chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers…”.

Two golden retrievers on a walk.
Walking dogs. By Allison Arnzen

The third way that students can help create peace is through the use of internet workouts. As an option, online workout videos have become a great way to keep in shape during Covid-19. Whether it be through a fitness routine, or a guided yoga practice, various applications such as SWEAT, Peloton, Sworkit Fitness & Workout, Glo – Yoga and Meditation are among many choices and may be downloaded on electronic devices. Another option is to stream these regimens directly from YouTube.

The fourth way find peace during Covid-19 is by keeping a schedule. By creating a routine and organization, a sense of center, control, focus, and ownership can be found in a time of crisis. By creating a schedule to follow, this helps set expectations for the day. While social distancing and stay at home orders adapt or are encouraged, keeping track of time and items to be complete ensure a sense of completion and feeling of accomplishment. Some things you can do to help are to make a list, create a planner, find the routine which best suits you personally. Following your flow to find a rhythm helps with focus, may ease feelings of being overwhelmed, and being intentional with your time to provide a sense of normalcy in unprecedented times. Productivity expert, Tonya Dalton, says “rituals keep our day moving along but are infused with joy, pleasure, or a positive emotion.”

Another helpful tip is to stay connected. In a digital world, connection is provided right at your fingertips. Reaching out to friends through text, call, or group video calls, such as Zoom, Google Hangout, or Skype, provides a sense of community and connection in a world where face to face contact is limited. Because we must remain over 6 feet apart in social settings, socializing with others virtually can help alleviate feelings of isolation and disconnect.

Another great tip to help keep calm is to try a new activity. In any spare time, a feeling of completion may be achieved through re-engaging in hobbies from the past or learning a new one. Creative outlets allow for self-expression. Journaling may help document and project thoughts. Finding a craft skill such as sewing, or crocheting is an option in creating to mix things up. Other forms of activities can include painting, drawing, sculpting, and creating music.  Connect Health AU found pursuing a new hobby may benefit one’s mental health with reduction in stress, boosting wellbeing, forming connection with others. The website states “spending time on activities that you enjoy can help improve your mental health and wellbeing. Research shows that people with hobbies are less likely to suffer from low moods, stress and depression.”

Young woman doing yoga pose.
Yoga Practice. By Allison Arnzen

And finally, be sure to check in on yourself. Recognizing the extent of the current climate is important in understanding any troubles currently being faced are difficult while pursuing an education. In addition to this, all other aspects of life inevitably continue in ways beyond a typical standard or norm.  Sarah Reichart, a behavioral health therapist of Mayo Clinic Health System states, “It’s important to pause for a moment and collect your thoughts, as worldwide pandemics can be taxing.” Recognizing potential mental and physical responses, Reichart says “It is normal to feel stressed or overwhelmed during uncertain times.”.

These times may impose newfound challenges; however, they will be navigated with strength and perseverance. Be kind to your mind. Check in with yourself. Take a deep breath.

Arrival of Autumn

By: Allison Arnzen

September 30, 2020


Woman in field of leaves with friend in fall setting.
Woman in fall scenery. source Aline Viana Prado

Honoring the transition from summer to fall in food, fashion, and lifestyle.   

As the seasons change from summer to fall, the temperature lowers and leaves change color, there are certain familiarities that seem to make their way into the environment surrounding us. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is arnzen-aoa-4.jpg
Boots, leaves, mug, and books. source fotografierende

Autumn is the third season of the year, which spans from September to November. From the aromas in the air, to activities, to events, to food, and decor, these are a few areas impacted by this season. With the shift in season, individuals north of the equator are impacted in their daily lives and communities as things change around them.

As the United States celebrates this time, there are many familiar ways to participate in the seasons change to “fall”. Due to Covid-19, however, this may look a bit different than years past. Here are some ways to feel engaged in this season, while staying in line with California’s current recommended health guidelines for Covid-19.

Latte in a white mug beside small orange pumpkin.
Coffee and pumpkin. source Valeriia Miller

In food, beverage, and aromatics – pumpkin spice has become a familiar fragrance which fills the air. Along with other ingredients, it is frequently added into baked goods, coffees, and other recipes, though the spices were originally intended to be used in baking pumpkin pie. This scent and flavor brings a sense of nostalgia, though it is simply a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.

Among the list of aromatic selections, often a blend of alternative spices, for example cinnamon, is associated with the fall season. While we relish pumpkin spice and cinnamon to eat, the season of fall seems to increase the usage of fragrance form with candles. In addition, other options to consider include apple, chai, vanilla, wood, nutty, leaves, and flannel scents. 

After we have filled the fall room with light and scents, candles are also used as decorations during these transitional months. Reader’s Digest’s architect and interior designer, Nina Cooke John, explains various ways to style your living space during this time.  She explains that implementing lights, using seasonal produce, adding textures, and welcoming the “colors of the season” are a few of John’s recommendations. She also recommends credited colors which involve an array of shades from red, to orange, yellow, tan, green, purple, in ranges of shades. While Covid-19 may increase the amount of time spent inside, arranging the home environment encourages a positive outlet to embrace these times. Whether you carve them, bake goods or pumpkin seeds, pumpkins are a classic staple of this time of year in the season and “Halloween” holiday.

Women dressed in fall tones sitting in pose by seasonal produce.
Woman sitting by produce. source Ash Valiente

Bringing in the energy of interior style may also act as inspiration to bring fall styles into one’s personal style. We can use fall colors, mixing patterns, and using various fabrics not only in your home, but in personal fashion as well. Whether sourcing from what you own or looking into thrifting or purchasing new pieces, pulling from the wardrobe allows for self expression and incorporation of the shift in season. As the weather begins to cool off, layering clothes is a way to show off your personal style in fall. Instyle’s Samantha Sutton embraces adapting not only the summer staples into fall. Sutton offers solutions to “combine fashion with comfort” with loungewear options as time spent at home increases due to the pandemic.