• Olivia Allred

Shower Thoughts for the End of the World

Lately, I’ve been feeling a little bit like I’m in the eighth grade again, when swine flu was at its peak. It was a simpler time. For some reason, I remember thinking that little kids were getting it because they were kissing frogs (because The Princess and the Frog had just come out) and they were spreading it to everyone else. I obviously had no idea what was going on (and I actually still have no idea what even happened with the swine flu; it’s like it just disappeared one day), there were just about a billion posters that were reminding me to wash my hands and use hand sanitizer if I needed to. I think it was also the first time I realized that some people take less than 30 seconds to wash their hands, which was mind-blowing. (I was treating hand-washing like a shower, basically, getting super caught up in my own thoughts and forgetting I had places to be, because warm water is crazy relaxing. I’ve wasted so much water in my life because of this.) I feel almost as confused now as I did then.

I hate talking about COVID-19, primarily because it’s the only thing that anyone ever wants to talk to me about. (What did I even talk about before? Mustard versus ketchup? I don’t remember.) I’ve been treating this whole outbreak like it’s beneath me; yes, it’s scary, but not for me because I’m very intelligent and also healthy. I know that buying out entire aisles of cleaning supplies is not better than only taking what I need. (What a helpful attitude, right?) I did the opposite of whatever I thought everyone else was doing. Everyone’s panicking and rushing to stores for hand sanitizer? Not me. I’m purposefully touching every doorknob I can find at the mall. People are choosing to stay at home instead of traveling? But the plane tickets are so cheap now, and just imagine how empty Disneyland would have been! I would have gotten through those lines so fast!

Obviously, neither of those mindsets are very helpful. I am not an expert on disease and I barely have an education in psychology, but there’s probably a balance in there somewhere. Mass panic is dangerous, but so is indifference. Panicking causes us to lose our sense of reason, but apathy means we’ve lost our sense of compassion. Mass panic means that people buy out health products that they don’t need, and probably won’t need, and deprive hospitals and people who are sick of necessary items. Indifference means that people take unnecessary risks and forget about the consequences for those who are more likely to get sick than they are. For instance, I know that if I were to contract coronavirus, I would be unlikely to have any serious health consequences. However, I’m supposed to be visiting my grandparents in a week, and if I was sick and didn’t realize it, that could be dangerous for them.

The most important thing for all of us to do right now (in my own amateur opinion) is to take a deep breath. Panic and anxiety can take a serious toll on mental and physical health. Over time, they can weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to diseases. Isolation also causes unnecessary stress, leading to more irrationality and, again, weakened immune systems. Oddly enough, in fight or flight situations (which is not exactly what we’re talking about, but does panic = flight and indifference = fight?) people tend to choose neither option; we gravitate towards the people we feel safest with, and these relationships help us to feel stable and able to keep going in the face of fear.

So I think we should all take a second to relax and take care of ourselves (not in a “buy all the face masks” way, but in the usual “spa day at home with my friends” way). While we’re at it, let’s take a minute to think of the things that are still really amazing, even when we’re all going crazy trying to socially distance ourselves (I was socially distancing myself in college before it was cool, so.)

1. Pizza.

2. The smell of rain.

3. Theater popcorn (how is it better than all the other popcorn? What do they put in it?).

4. Videos of puppies being trained as seeing-eye dogs. (I’m crying thinking about it.)

5. Duck Dynasty Band-Aids. (I only saw them once and I am devastated that they don’t make them anymore.)

6. Other people being super irritating. (This is amazing because it means that I am alive and they’re alive, too.)

7. Twizzlers being disgusting and addicting at the same time.

8. Dogs being way cuter than anything has the right to be.

9. Chocolate.

10. Pretzelmaker making the best soft pretzels.

11. Fuzzy socks. Or funny socks.

12. Birds when they run. (Have you ever watched this? I’ve cried laughing.)

13. Books. (They would never give me a disease.)

14. Midnight sledding and hot chocolate.

15. Nicolas Cage pillowcases.

Life is always a little bit scary, but there’s still good stuff happening. Stick close to the people you love and recognize that while fear isn’t always the truth, we should still be considerate of other people. Take care of your mental health while you’re taking care of your physical health. Think about how crazy it will be when they start writing about this whole crazy time in history books. And start bingeing Doomsday Preppers just in case.