Welcome to The Self-Care Series, a Loyolan series where I speak with LMU students about what they have been doing to look after themselves during the COVID-19 pandemic. During these challenging times we are living in, it is important to not only acknowledge, but also actively take care of our mental health. I hope this series will leave readers inspired to incorporate self-care into their everyday routines.
In the third interview of The Self-Care Series, I spoke with Isabel-Bettina Velasquez, a junior finance major isolating with her family in Hawaii. Velasquez worries about her future like countless others, but she is finding comfort in reading fiction and watching anime series. Although she did not anticipate moving back home during the spring semester, she has cherished the extra time spent with her family.
Francesca Bermudez (F.B.): Can you tell me a little bit about your relationship with mental health and what it means to you?
Isabel-Bettina Velasquez (I.V.): I find [mental health] very important because it's a topic in my family that is actually kind of seen as very taboo. In our generation, I want it to not be seen as such a bad stigma. You know, it’s not just about being sad. I actually have anxiety and I have gone through episodes of depression, so I do understand what mental health is.
F.B.: What are some of the most common emotions you have felt during the pandemic?
I.V.: The most common one would have to be anxiety. I became more worried about my future and my career because of what is going on, especially with getting internships for next summer and how hard it is right now in the job market. I think [when you are] cooped up at home, little things start to bother you.
F.B.: What have you been doing to take care of your mental health?
I.V.: I have been reading a lot of books. I've been watching a lot of anime. I've been cooking. I try to spend time with my family when they are not busy.
F.B.: What are your favorite anime series?
I.V.: Right now I'm watching “Food Wars,” but my favorite [series include] “Yuri!!! On Ice,” “Haikyuu!!” and “My Hero Academia.”
F.B.: Do you think you have been paying more attention to your mental health during this time?
I.V.: Yeah, I have been. Sometimes I reflect on what's happening now and how I'm feeling [versus] how I felt when we were on campus in L.A. and it's not the same. I do go to therapy with my therapist here in Hawaii more often than I would before.
F.B.: What types of books have you been reading?
I.V.: I really like fantasy fiction … especially romance. [TikTok accounts] recommended this series called “From Blood and Ash,” so I just started it up about two weeks ago and I finished the first and second book of the series. It was pretty good.
F.B.: What about workouts? Have you been trying to stay active?
I.V.: I usually try to work out at least two to three times a week because I noticed that the more I actually try to stay active, the more my anxiety is well-maintained. I at least try to go out two times a week, just to the grocery store or if my family needs to do something.
F.B.: Are there any virtual resources for mental health that you have found helpful?
I.V.: I use TikTok a lot, but it's not like [I follow] that Hype House. I go on more of this side where people talk about their struggles with anxiety. [These content creators show] how they face body dysmorphia and having stress living in this pandemic. I think that seeing people in similar situations like I am gives me a sense of reassurance. It's not only me who is going through this.
F.B.: Have there been any silver linings of your experience during the pandemic?
I.V.: I would say being able to spend more time with my family. My mindset is that because this is a unique period of time right now, I'm going to be with them for such a long time. Usually I'm not here at all most of the year and this is one of the rare moments I’ll be able to spend time with them for a long time. When we graduate, we're going to work and we're going to be so busy. Right now, I'm trying to really appreciate the now and not be so worried about the future.