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Study Abroad Blog

Staying Mindful in a Virtual Environment

February 09, 2021
by Dennis Cogan
Life is unpredictable, especially in the time of a pandemic. We are uncertain of what is to come and where the future will lead us. This uncertainty takes its toll on our mental health. Even in “normal” times, we are plagued with pressing anxieties. However, these anxieties are particularly rampant in our world today. They are nearly impossible to escape, but do not worry, they can be mitigated! We cannot watch TV, look at our phones, or talk to our friends without facing the current reality of the pandemic. Because of this, the importance of mental health and wellness is more relevant than it has ever been. It is about time that mental well-being is getting the attention it deserves.

It would be unfair of me to continue without sharing a little bit more about myself. My name is Dennis Cogan, and I am a junior studying psychology at Fordham University. I study psychology due to my curiosity about the human mind and my passion for raising mental health awareness. I decided to intern virtually through CEA Study Abroad to put this passion into fruition in a multicultural context.

 The company that I am interning for

I am amid my second week interning at Happy, Healthy and Zen, a meditation and wellness practice in Paris. My experiences with the internship so far have asserted me that this passion can contribute to my future profession. Even so, like anyone who has recently started a new job, I have faced many reservations about this new experience. Is this right for me? Am I doing this right? Where will this internship lead me? Fortunately, my internship placement has granted me the opportunity to learn how to combat these reservations through my assigned tasks.

Through this, it has become clearer to me that relaxation is more achievable than it seems to be. My supervisor at my host company has assigned for me to complete 60-second breathing exercises daily. At first, I honestly viewed this task as being somewhat of a burden. “A minute is too long.” However, when I finally forced myself to do it, I noticed a huge difference. Just by focusing on my deep, relaxing breaths for 60 seconds made me feel a lot better. I felt relieved and refreshed. Maybe relaxation is more in our control than we think.

Based on my internship experience thus far, I would like to provide some wellness tips. Many of these tips may seem small and trivial, but they can make a big difference. Small things can add up to something big. As we sit behind working on our computers with little in-person interaction, we oftentimes fail to take the appropriate time to check in on ourselves. If we fail to check in on ourselves frequently, it can become difficult to alleviate many crippling anxieties.

  • Take breaks. They do not have to be long. It can even be as simple as walking around the house, listening to a song, or stretching.
  • Smile and laugh. Smiling and laughing has been shown to be correlated to a more positive mood!
  • Stay hydrated. Drink lots of water to remain focused and composed!
  • Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. I cannot emphasize this enough. It may seem trivial, but trust me, this goes a long way!

Take care of yourself. You deserve it! It is still possible to find joy and peace in things during unprecedented and difficult times!


Dennis Cogan is the Spring 2021 CEA MOJO Blogger in Paris, France, and is currently studying at Fordham University.
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