How to Navigate a Pandemic as a Quantum Particle

The world has turned upside down, and you wish you could teleport far, far away. I hear ya, my dear quantum particle. I’m convinced someone chose 2020 to whip out their Jumanji board.

I imagine you feel at least somewhat apprehensive since you currently cannot teleport more than a few hundred kilometers, let alone galactic distances. So I thought I’d put together a little coping guide for you! Whether you are a bubbly positron, a chilled out photon, or even an elusive hypothetical graviton, here are a few tips that might help you navigate these uncertain times — not that you’re any stranger to uncertainty! It’s important to not panic, but to remain vigilant and compassionate. Like bosons, we’re in this together!

Remain in your ground state: prioritize self care and mental health

Sometimes external stimuli may push you to higher energy states, so try to avoid anything that may trigger a jump to such an excited state—and in this context, ‘excited’ means ‘anxious’! Your mental health is incredibly important, and it may be taking a hit due to external factors. Take the news, for instance. While it’s important to stay up to date via reputable sources, consuming news 24/7 isn’t healthy, especially if it leaves you feeling agitated. Switch off the news for most of the day, and focus on self care.

Now, self care doesn’t necessarily mean bath bombs and candles. Brushing your teeth twice a day is self care. Allowing yourself to watch Netflix guilt-free is self care. Relishing the taste of a crisp apple or a slice of chocolate cake is self care. Signing up for professional counseling is self care. Self care is anything that uplifts you. This includes unfollowing those on social media who do not bring you joy — if your feed causes anxiety, it’s okay to tweak it!

Some potentially helpful resources:

Aim for separable, not entangled: practice social distancing

One of the coolest things about being quantum is that you’re able to become entangled with other particles. However, during times like this, I urge you to act classically and aim for separable states, not entangled: abide by the term that has taken the world by storm: “social distancing.” Avoid public areas such as metro stations and restaurants, and always maintain a good distance from another particle.

Social distancing doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun with loved ones. Set up virtual watch parties, play games online. If you live in the same neighborhood, you can totally take walks together and lounge on front lawns — just keep a distance!

Some potentially helpful resources:

Be bosonic: remember we are in this together

Unlike fermions, bosons don’t follow the exclusion principle. So, embrace your bosonic side: act like a boson even if you aren’t one! Remember to be compassionate and responsible; you are part of a group of particles in the same boat.

I’ve seen both sides of the coin. A private tutor offering services for free for anyone in the world. And a landlord attempting to force viewings on an immunocompromised tenant.

One unfortunate ramification of the pandemic is panic shopping. Hoarding leads to a shortage, and those in need may be deprived of access to essential items. Paracetemol might not reach particles who are running a fever. Masks may not reach medical professionals. It is vital that you remember we are in this together.

A few things you can do:

  • Actively reach out to loved ones, especially those who may not be coping well with isolation or who may be stuck in unpleasant or toxic home environments.

Embrace the vibrations: keep moving physically and/or mentally

You slow down only during extreme cold temperatures, so there’s no reason for you to curb your natural instinct to keep moving! Lockdowns and quarantines don’t mean you have to stay put in a tiny corner of a room. Keep moving the way you always have, either physically or mentally or both. If you are able to, go for a walk, soak up some vitamin D, and smell the roses. These things are still available to you! Simply practice social distancing.

Consider looking into those hobbies you haven’t had time for before. Unleash your closeted bibliophile and devour your “Read Someday” list. Haven’t baked in years? Bake cookies and eat them all. For real. Maaaybe make a second batch for your roommates.

Some potentially useful resources:

Learning resources:

Remember, only do these things if you want to, don’t feel compelled to be extra productive during this difficult time. Which brings me to my final point.

Ignore the observer: don’t feel compelled by others

You tend to change your behavior according to the presence of an observer, but resist that urge. Don’t let anyone else compel you to do something.

Do you feel like you’re falling behind because some particles on your feed are apparently writing books, boosting their businesses, eating super healthy, exercising a ton, and finishing massive home projects?

I have news for you: you are not falling behind. You are precisely where you need to be. Simply getting out of bed and taking a shower is a win. Curling up and eating a whole bag of Doritos is a win. Don’t worry about what others are doing, don’t worry how your social media followers will react if you don’t post something inspiring — you being able to function at all in this climate is inspiring enough.

You do you, as long as you are not putting others in harm’s way.

Remember: you have the ability to tunnel through obstacles.

I believe in you.

Icons used from the Noun Project by emilegraphics, icon 54, vectors market, vectorstall, scott desmond, turkkub, markus

Scientific Adviser. Writer. Physicist. Cat lady and caffeinated.

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