Welcome to Everything but the Bagel, a weekly space to make you feel a little less stressed, and a little more grounded, just with writing instead of cream cheese. By diving deeper into the reality of life as a Trojan, Everything But The Bagel will help you get through the ups and downs of your college experience. Through relatable anecdotes, interviews, and my curated edit of recommendations, this newsletter will remind you that you are at this school for a reason, further helping you make the most of your time at ‘SC.

Dear Beautiful, Imperfect, Intelligent Humans,

Hi from Chicago.

As I said in my first column seven weeks ago, Everything But The Bagel is a space to help ground you.

In case you haven’t been following the news, COVID-19 deaths within the US have now surpassed 140, and President Trump advised against gatherings with more than 10 people.

Everything is uncertain, confusing, and stressful to say the least. Especially when half of the country is in quarantine while people are out partying for St. Patrick's Day. Ouch.

Given the new parameters that this virus is creating around our lives, this week I want to talk about building a life you don’t have to escape from, especially considering that in the coming days, you may not be able to.

Our day-to-day lives may be more contained than ever before, but that doesn’t mean we should stop prioritizing our mental health and wellbeing. In fact, now more than ever we should focus on sleep, filling our bodies with nutritious foods, and doing everything we can to remain calm while adapting to this new reality.

Yesterday I spoke with Maryalice Jordan-Marsh, a USC Associate Professor in Health Concentration and expert in using new media to increase healthy behaviors. I asked her questions over a phone call––quarantine style, of course.

“One of the really important things is to have a routine,” Jordan-Marsh said.

While much of social media has been ruining a means of connecting face to face, we need to use technology to our advantage right now. Set your alarm for a certain time, get out of your PJs, make a healthy breakfast (recipes to come) and do not work from your bed.

“It’s really important to log doing things, for school, exercise and social contact,” Jordan-Marsh added. This can be keeping tabs on the hours of sleep you are getting each night, daily steps, or your routine water intake.

Yesterday I went on a walk in my neighborhood and to Lake Michigan. Even though it was 35 degrees, getting fresh air gave me a rush of endorphins and cleared my headspace.

Marsh also recommended something called triaging, which is receiving your information from a minimum of three sources. She advised checking the CDC and two others. Some of my favorites are Katie Couric’s Wake Up Call Newsletter, the CNN Top 5 and The Daily which will come right to your music playlist or morning inbox. But make sure you aren’t checking these sources before practicing self-care with Calm, or Mindful USC.

Professor Marsh encourages students to stay connected across generations. During this time, it is important to remember that older generations are feeling isolated and afraid.

“Have lunch with somebody you love. You can talk about what your menu is going to be and then FaceTime them during the meal,” Marsh said.

Or even get outside a little! Why not bake some cookies and drop them off at your Grandma’s building?

USC may be done for the rest of the semester, but I’m not going anywhere. I will be writing to you all from my home in Chicago, doing my best to keep our community connected, positive, and optimistic during this corona chaos. I invite you to reach out to me to tell me the kind of content that would help you because let's face it, we are all going to have a lot more time on our hands for the foreseeable future.

Wishing you all a week full of health, optimism, and laughter––lots of laughter

-Ella

Now here’s some of my favorite things from this week:

Quote of the Week:
“No more we have to...we get to. We get to do this, we get to be a part of the change. We get to be here.” ----Angela Davis, Entrepreneur

This pandemic has made me realize how many simple liberties I take for granted. I never saw a 6 a.m. workout class, an in-person lecture, a lunch with friends, coffee with my professor or a walk with my grandmother as an opportunity. But if this quarantine is teaching the world anything, it’s that we take too much for granted.

Digest of the Week:

As our schedules now revolve around Zoom and what time we want to eat lunch, we are all going to have much more time on our hands. While this may invite boredom or unwanted anxiety and discomfort, best selling author and “human guinea pig” Tim Ferriss will help calm your nerves with his popular podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show. This week, Tim sat down with Jack Kornfield, a Buddhist monk who is bringing his wisdom to the West to help Americans find peace amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. One of my biggest takeaways: “You can take this as a time to begin to train yourself in steadiness, in trust, in the ability to have a vaster, broader perspective. To develop your sense of care and connection.”

And in the spirit of boredom...here is another digest: a lovely article on how to boost your immune system and stay healthy during quarantine.

Something I am working on this week, to remind you that we are ALL a work in progress:

With COVID-19 presenting so much uncertainty, not to mention moving back in with my family, I have been working, more than ever, on gratitude. The fact that we have a roof over our heads, food on the table, knowledge to keep up with the news and advanced technology to keep us connected with friends and family already makes us incredibly fortunate. Remember that. One of my guiding philosophies in life is that everything happens for a reason. How could that be my truth when a pandemic such as COVID is sweeping the globe? Well maybe, this is what we needed. To appreciate the good. To be more grateful. To remind us how interconnected we all really are. Just a thought for your Wednesday.

Question of the Week:

Every week, I welcome any questions or concerns you may have that could spark discussion/ bring awareness to our community. I will respond to the best of my ability, consulting outside scientific resources to answer them to the best of my ability. Just click here to ask your question! And just remember: No question is a dumb one. If you have it, I’m sure many members of our community have the same one!

Write to me here:

Twitter: ellakatz20

Instagram: ellaakatz