Cover Photo By Danni Lim
Cover Photo By Danni Lim.

Finding our new normal: Benildeans discover different coping strategies

With long nights reminiscing about our past selves, as well as missing the campus life, Benildeans continue to find ways to retain their sanity in these crazy times.

By Kate Loreno, and Ralph Regis | Thursday, 18 November 2021

Almost two years into the pandemic and it seems like the “norm” has drastically changed. With spending college years through our laptop screens, Benildeans and most Filipinos find ways to cope with the stress brought by conflicting schedules, insurmountable requirements, and the worsening condition of the pandemic in the Philippines. 

Everyone has different ways of coping. In an interview with The Benildean, take a look at some of what kept these Benildeans healthy and sane amidst the pandemic.

  • Reading books

While some are blessed with more time on their hands, finishing a book is a little bit easier than usual. The quarantine has given both non-book and avid-book readers an opportunity to dive their noses and breeze through different stories page-by-page.

ID 118 Multimedia Arts (MMA) student Alicia Cruz shared that adapting to the new normal posed a difficult challenge and that “it’s inevitable to feel exhausted and hopeless with everything, since we have no assurance of a safe and better future.” As a manga reader herself, Alicia avidly reads the Japanese manga series “Blue Manga” to manage burnout.

Still on his journey of self-discovery since the start of the lockdown, Nathan Claudio, an ID 119 Fashion Design and Merchandising student, admits he has his own fair share of lazy days when he allows himself to not do anything academic-related. He currently reads American author and professor Gloria Jean Watkins’ (Bell hooks) “All About Love.” Meanwhile, the books written by American self-help author Mark Manson, “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck and “Everything is F*cked,” helped him realize the significance of self love and self importance and that one should let things happen on their own will.

ID 120 Architecture student Sophie Sy shared being comfortable during isolation gave her the opportunity to dwell on her pre-pandemic lifestyle. Sure enough, reading self-help books such as South Korean novelist Kim Soo-hyun’s self-help novel “I Decided to Live as Me” paved the way for new perspectives.

Katherine Castillo, ID 119 Arts Management (AM) student, mentioned that it’s a weird time to live at this moment, especially for students. Although what kept her going is spending an hour every day reading historical fiction and gothic literature. Lately, she became interested in reading #BookTok recommendations一on her current read-list is “Wuthering Heights” by English novelist Emily Bronte and “The Song of Achilles” by American novelist Madeline Miller.

Alvin Mendoza, an ID 120 International Hospitality Management (IHM) student, reads books about motivation, business mindset, and happiness such as “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert T. Kiyosaki, a Japanese-American businessman and author.

“As a young entrepreneur who wants the best for his business, I read it every day because I get to learn the quadrants in the business world and keep me going and continue striving for my future,” Mendoza shared as he found opportunities of sidelining in reselling sneakers to help his family financially. 

  • Watching movies or TV series

It’s safe to say that the pandemic has drastically changed the viewing habits of most people around the world. We are lucky enough to have access to films and series whilst in the comfort of our homes. The amount of media consumption is definitely unfathomable. 

ID 118 MMA student Benjamin Santos rewards himself with one large Oreo Cream Cheese milk tea every week, with the goal to “order the same flavor from different milk tea shops and rate which ones are the best.” This is a perfect binge-buddy when watching the fantasy comedy series “The Good Place,” his favorite comfort series that “also tackles philosophy and ethics in such an entertaining way.”

On the other hand, Nathan spends a considerable amount of time scrolling through Netflix and recommends Spanish thrillers “The Invisible Guest,” “The Paramedic,” “When Angels Sleep,” “The Occupant,” and the hit heist crime-drama series “Money Heist.” Despite not being a “series” person, he still finishes a series that catches his interest.

Riding the waves of Hallyu, Nathan also recommends the Korean dramas: “What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim?” “My ID is Gangnam Beauty,” “Kingdom,” his all-time favorite, and “Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha,” his current obsession.

As a creative, finding creativity in isolation is quite a challenge. But for Alicia, the wonders of Studio Ghibli films open up her imagination as an artist. Currently, the top Ghibli films on her list include Spirited Away, Whisper of the Heart, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Princess Mononoke.

  • Streaming videos on YouTube or Twitch 

YouTube is a rabbit hole of unlimited content. Content creators are on a rise these days, with the gap between the audience and creator becoming closer. We would always have that go-to content to watch while we go about our day.

Katherine shared she was able to find more stability now compared to a year ago. She has built better habits and healthier routines that help her get through the day. One of her go-to comfort habits is watching American beauty guru Bailey Sarian’s “Murder, Mystery, and Make-up” series on Youtube. She finds it interesting seeing Sarian talk about historical events and crime stories while doing her makeup.

Meanwhile, ID 121 Theater Arts student Aidan Angan enjoys watching a lot of Twitch streams from streamers like Drawfee, Ranboo, and Phosphoride_

As a content creator, Benjamin watches videos and creates content on YouTube as Benj Buddy 一uploading short films, college student tips, and lifestyle vlogs. 

Giving a sense of productivity, ID 121 IHM student Anton Sepacio tends to watch silent vlogs on YouTube that pushes his creativity amidst the calming atmosphere and keeps him motivated to start his day positively.

ID 119 AM student Kahlil Alcala also enjoys watching vlogs from other creatives and college students on Youtube as “watching other people be productive somehow gives me that extra push to be productive as well.”

Moreover, Kahlil has lately been into K-Dramas and K-pop. “I find them really entertaining to watch and listen to. I also have a lot of friends who are into them which helps a lot because I get to talk to them and share our love for K-Drama and K-pop with each other,” he adds. 

  • Listening to music,  podcasts, or streams

Music always saves the day when we’re in need of comfort. Podcasts, on the other hand, have become one of the most popular platforms because of its convenience. You can listen to an episode and absorb information while also doing something else. 

When working, Alicia follows a pomodoro-based workflow to manage her time. She listens to K-pop music to combat sleepiness; as well as classical music, ambient sounds, and instrumentals.

Nathan is a certified pop music fan and “Little Monster,” the term for American pop star Lady Gaga fans. Sure enough, he blasted Chromatica when it was released over a year ago. He also discovered Japanese-British singer-songwriter Rina Sawayama and American rapper Kanye West, following the latter’s fashion creativity since the release of his latest album Donda, which coincided with a Balenciaga merch collection.

Aidan finds comfort in listening to alternative and indie music or what he describes as “weird or odd core type songs such as Clem Turner, Sara Bareilles, Ghostmane, CORPSE, Florence + the Machine, The Oh Hellos, Derivakat, Kroh, Lucy Dacus, Phoebe Bridgers, and so much Mitski.”

Sophie, on the other hand, recommends three podcasts on Spotify that will make you see what things in life you should prioritize: 

  • The Michelle Obama Podcast - talks about the former First Lady of the United States’ perspectives as a black American woman
  • Superhuman with Wil Dasovich - discusses reaching one’s peak potential to live a carefree and meaningful life
  • Skypodcast by Slater and Kryz Young - all about nurturing good relationships and people who matter and make an impact in your life

  • Doing something creative

All of us are creative in our own ways. Sometimes, we just have to find an outlet and create something meaningful and impactful for us.

Having his art as a safe space, Kahlil always tries to find time to create art for himself despite the heavy academic workload. His creative outlets range from painting, doing photoshoots, and filming videos as a way to destress and cope with the ongoing pandemic.

Kahlil also enjoys gardening and taking care of houseplants, “I find it very therapeutic and it also gives me a sense of the outdoors which helps a lot especially since we can’t go outside due to health protocols,” he shares.

Aidan also felt lucky he finally found time to pursue his old passions such as songwriting, voice acting, writing books, and podcasts. Adapting the mindset of celebrating small progress rather than getting frustrated over unfinished works, he realized that “I never feel like I have to stop myself from creating ‘in case I don’t finish it.’ I’ve noticed [that] this is much more motivating and fulfilling for me.”

  • Resting and taking breaks

But at the end of the day, taking breaks and rest will help us get back on track. This is a constant reminder to take it easy and breathe. 

Even with her busy schedule, Katherine finds the time to talk to her friends and hang out with them online every day, as “good friends are great accountability partners.”

Benjamin loves to gaze at the sky and trees outside of his hometown when he’s away from his computer screen. Taking short breaks and resting from online class-burn out helps in refreshing his brain.

“Learn to rest without guilt,” Aidan says. “Some see rest as a waste of time, but rest in itself is productive and required to not drive yourself into burn out or even a full mental crash.”

From one Benildean to another

The prolonged remote learning of Benildeans causes stress and feelings of loneliness to most. The late-night dinner-kwentuhans turned to short 30-minute Zoom meetings. It's a crazy time but it is important to try to survive and care for ourselves as much as we can.

“Don't berate yourself over things you cannot control or for only doing what you think is the bare minimum [...] Whether or not you are blessed with a fancy workspace or an aesthetic set-up, it is still up to you if your mind and body is already in a good condition to get productive and creative,” Alicia shared.

Furthermore, it’s okay to constantly change routines and habits, as it is finding what truly works for us, Katherine emphasizes. “Try to have a routine or schedule. This will help you divide and allocate enough time for school and other personal activities such as hobbies,” Kahlil adds.

After all, “you don’t need to always be in your A-game everyday,” says Nathan. “You don’t need to be always productive. You don’t need to be always strong.” It’s truly okay not to be okay, Benjamin reassures. “Sometimes owning up and facing your feelings is the first step in helping you grow. 

As cliché as it may sound, life is not a race. “Some of us are afraid of committing errors because it is very disappointing if you commit a mistake [...] With the lessons that you've learned from your mistakes, you can master them as time goes by,” Alvin shared.

We are responsible for our own healing, according to Sophie. “Don’t spend all of your time worrying about the future, find your balance and try to live in the moment. This is your story.”

Parting ways, Sophie leaves a message to contemplate with, “You shouldn’t succumb to the unacceptable standard (of the society or the world) or feel cowed by it and end up depreciating your own value. There are various ways to define good students, various ways to live a good life, and we all have a right to pursue our own answers,”  taken from page 98 of “I Decided to Live as Me.”

No matter what your coping mechanism is, as long as it helps you get through a month, week, day, or even just hours, it’s yours and it’s valid. Coping is different for others. So, find what perfectly fits your routine and needs. In our world filled with uncertainties, one thing is for certain一self-care is a top priority!

Last updated: Thursday, 18 November 2021