|Survey about habits of Dongguk University students (80 respondents)|
After COVID-19 has swept across South Korea and the world, the gap in habits between people is deepening. “A gap in habits” means a gap between people who are holding so-called “good habits” which help make their life healthier and more productive and people who are holding so-called “bad habits” which lead them to be more unproductive. This gap in habits has been deepening during the COVID-19 situation, and it will make a big difference in overall living the post-COVID-19 life.
Find out the reality of the habits of Dongguk University students during COVID-19
“Corona-blue,” the name for depression during COVID-19, has occurred especially among teenagers and college students. According to the Korean Council for University Education (KCUE) research from 2,180 four-year college students and 125 postgraduate students, the proportion of respondents who thought of suicide seriously and specifically reached 20.1% (17% before COVID-19) during the last two years. In addition, the research in May 2021, which was commissioned to Korean Society of Traumatic Stress Studies (KSTSS) by the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW), showed that the percentage of those in their twenties and thirties suffering from depression due to the prolonged COVID-19 was 30.4% and 31.6% respectively. It can be regarded that “Corona-blue” has greatly affected those in their twenties and thirties considering the fact that the percentage of other age groups is about 20% or less.
This “Corona-blue” has also affected the Dongguk University students who are living through the COVID-19 situation. The Dongguk Post surveyed about the habits of Donggukians. 58.7% of the respondents (total respondents are 80) have the irregular habits, and reasons why respondents who have irregular habits are feeling lethargic of their lives, or they do not know the ways of changing their lives more regularly even though they wanted to change their current situation, which accounts for 44.7%. In addition, the main habits that most respondents have were media activities such as computer games, watching Netflix or YouTube and social network service (SNS) activities such as Instagram, Facebook, and KakaoTalk reached 66.3% (53) and 62.5% (50) respectively. When it comes to eating habits, 51.2% (41) responded that they do not have regular eating habits, and respondents who eat delivery food or instant food more than three days in a week reached the percentage of 33.8% (27) while 55% (44) of respondents responded that they eat delivery foods or instant foods once or twice a week. Lastly, when it comes to the sleeping pattern, 42.5% of respondents (34) responded they usually sleep after 2 A.M. and 31.2% of respondents (25) responded they usually sleep between 1 A.M. and 2 A.M.
Lee, a junior in the Department of Computer Science Engineering, who had experienced depression and lethargy, said, “Because of the COVID-19 and social distancing policy, I usually spent most times of a day at home, and it made me spend the day lying in beds and watching videos from YouTube with delivery food. After that, I felt depressed since I thought of myself as lethargic, so I drank. I got lazy from the environment of staying home all day. One day I came down in an elevator, even though it seemed to rain outside, I did not go back to bring my umbrella becuase of the thought that I would just buy a new one due to the laziness. Also, I got a new habit: checking my phone frequently to check messages, since I had barely contacted with society due to the social distancing.”
People maintain “bad habits” due to several reasons
During the COVID-19 situation, many students felt depressed and lethargic due to “Corona blue.” Accordingly, they have maintained unproductive habits about lifestyle, eating habits, and self-studying. Ironically, most people agree with the opinion that we should live our lives with “good habits.” What is the reason people maintain “bad habits” which means unproductive habits and barely get “good habits” which means the habits for self-improvement such as reading or exercising?
Our brain wants to stay in a comfort zone. Since things outside the comfort zone have a risk that might threaten our survival, our brain was designed to fear those things and stay in the comfortable safety zone. However, when we desire to get something, we can only get that as a reward through the corresponding effort of taking risks. These efforts tend to resist the characteristic of the brain that keeps staying in a comfort zone, accompanying discomfort. Our ancestors who lived in prehistoric ages got rewards through strenuous efforts such as farming, hunting, or gathering. And after these efforts, Dopamine, which is a reward hormone, is released so that they can get a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction to go through the hard effort again next time. Despite our brains being almost identical to our ancestors, the surrounding technologies have improved drastically. Only a simple touch of a smartphone or a very simple process of eating food without cooking, such as ordering delivery food, enabled people to get instant rewards without the process of hard effort and satisfaction through the secretion of Dopamine. This makes most people only pursue the joy of the present moment while feeling distant and uncomfortable about the productive activities which have a huge gap between efforts and rewards, such as studying, exercising, or reading.
Some people maintain “good habits” and improve themselves regardless of COVID-19 situation
On the other hand, some people established the habits for self-improvement during the same COVID-19 situation. Contrary to the news that COVID-19 is deepening the depression of college students by “Corona blue,” they regard the situation as the opportunity to introspect and are willing to develop themselves with steady efforts to achieve their goals. At the same time when the depression caused by COVID-19 increased, there was a craze for self-improvement among college students. For example, there is a project paying the money until the prearranged day with living a regular life sleeping early and getting up early, so-called “Miracle Morning,” or taking desired lectures and getting verification from the program manager for 30 days, namely “Bback-gong-dan.”
Choi, a freshman in the department of Buddhism at Dongguk University, who has experienced the “Miracle Morning” and keeping the habit to this day said, “I have conducted the habit since I had encountered the Miracle Morning from a book, in which a lawyer who was on a television show explained the concept of buying dawn instead of living dawn. I felt an advantage of spending more time than others and starting a day earlier. I will maintain this habit steadily.”
There are no absolute answers to the habits. However, it would be best if you look back on your current habits by categorizing which ones are resulting in positive effects and which ones are causing negative effects and sustain the positive habits or get rid of the negative habits. To accomplish this, a book named “Atomic Habits,” written by James Clear recommends making a “habit tracking diary.” The book explained that only recognizing the current situation helps to get out of the unconscious behaviors and reconsider the willingness to recognize negative habits and remove them. Additionally, it also explained the habit tracking diary raises the possibility of establishing the habit as a system through the steady conducting of the behavior.
The COVID-19 Infectious Disease Alert has been downgraded according to the quarantine policy by the government declared on April 25th. Many universities have started complete face-to-face lectures and performances, and events have been reactivating. Therefore, we will live in the post-COVID-19 world. Now COVID-19 has passed, and society is recovering. It is time to look back on our dysfunctional habits affected by COVID-19 and prepare for the post-COVID-19 period.
Lee Jun-ho firstname.lastname@example.org
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