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This year has been filled with extraordinary challenges. Not only has the pandemic changed our lives, but it has changed our relationships with those around us. College was a safe haven for many of us- the perfect place to express ourselves freely, meet new people, hang out with friends, stay late in the library studying, and so on. When the lockdown came, our haven moved online, and it just wasn't the same. 

 

    Being at home and not seeing the people we usually met regularly has made us feel isolated. Shifting to online classes brought up emotions we may have never experienced before, such as depression, loneliness, and/or emptiness. Because these feelings may be new to us, we don't recognize them fast or don't know how to manage them, and to be honest, it's easier to ignore them instead of acknowledging them.  

 

Sometimes we look for fast and easy solutions, but we don't plan for the long term. So we focus on finishing our classes the best way we can to achieve good results. But once the semester is over, what now? We are still in isolation and depression. Those kinds of feelings don't go away quickly. Now, we have free days for resting, introspecting, and reconnecting with loved ones. Yet, carrying these feelings make it hard to be at peace this holiday season altogether. 

 

According to Students Against Depression, "Depression thrives in conditions of social isolation and loneliness". Depression is a common mental health problem that can vary by person and situation, and it can be treatable. There are many ways to overcome depression, but in this article, I will focus mainly on our social connections during this holiday season.  

 

The pandemic has forced us to social distance from loved ones. We can no longer receive affection from others for fear of getting infected. The stress we feel walking outside or being inside our house every day can cause depression. We must recognize this feeling to overcome it. To find our source of stress, we have to take the time to reflect. For this holiday season, I strongly recommend taking some time to sit down with your loved ones and open up about your feelings. If you can't meet them in person, call them, do a video call or text them. 

 

Sometimes the little things can make a significant impact on your life. Use this time to reconnect with old friends or family members you haven't seen in a while; write a letter or email to your professors, thanking them for the great job they did to carry their class this semester; invite friends to play in online group games. There are many ways to stay connected during this challenging time. We only need to take the first step. For more information about depression and ways to overcome it, I suggest checking out Students Against Depression

Melarie is currently pursuing her bachelor's degree at Universidad de Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus. You can find her hiking the Yunque Rainforest, growing flowers in her backyard, volunteering with environmental organizations, or lost in the pages of a good book. She is an advocate for mental health awareness and is working as a Coastal Captain of Microplastics for Scuba Dogs Society.
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