By Liz Collin

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — After we’ve all been cooped up for months, some are getting brave in their search for a break.

Thrill seekers are tackling their bucket lists, from 13,000 feet in the air.

WCCO looked into why more daredevils are skydiving during the COVID-19 pandemic and what that says about our mental health.

Between no graduation ceremonies, parties, and countless other summer plans canceled, a trip to a Baldwin, Wisconsin field fit in.

It all had Jack King jumping at the chance to celebrate a birthday.

“Been stuck in the house for a while nice to finally do something, why not go big,” King said.

“He turned 18 and I promised him 10 years ago that when he did we would come,” his mom, Amanda King said.

“Family members watching are a lot more scared than we are,” Jack said.

John Bucsko wasn’t sure what to expect when COVID-19 restrictions in Wisconsin meant their typical season in April was pushed out to May.

“Now is the time if you want to do it,” Bucsko said.

But day after day skydivers strap in.

“When you’re skydiving you’re really not thinking of anything else you’re thinking of skydiving,” he said.

Mental health therapist, Dr. Katie Holter, isn’t surprised that these last six months have sent people looking for an escape.

“We might go shopping, we might jump out of a plane, we might emotionally eat, we might turn to substances,” Holter said.

From being bombarded with COVID-19 death counts and masked faces daily, we’re reminded of our own mortality, whether we may realize it or not.

“As humans we all want to have meaningful impacts on the world so again reminders of our death can lead us to evaluate that. How have I done,” she said.

It’s why Dr. Holter believes we’ve seen a bucket list boom. Accomplishment simply makes us feel better. But, she reminds people that right now it’s OK to simply, just be. A day-to-day approach can offer some peace.

“Not feeling like we have to come out of this pandemic with some sort of product that we’ve done,” Holter said.

Amazingly, Jack found that “peace” jumping out of a plane. A new perspective that these days might not be such a bad thing.

“That was just a lot of fun. I couldn’t wait to jump out,” he said. “[The] whole time down I was just smiling the whole time.”

“Definitely great to get out and do something,” he added.

Dr. Holter says it’s important to realize we are all experiencing a wide range of emotions right now.

Here are some tips on how to best deal with emotions during the pandemic:

  • Remind yourself of the purpose of emotion. Think of your emotions as an internal alarm system.
  • Check out where the smoke is coming from. If there is a fire try to understand how to gather more information about your emotions so you can respond appropriately.
  • Seeing a lot of fear and anxiety, this is the emotion that warns you of a threat.
  • Identify your emotions and think of the appropriate ways of coping with them and expressing them.
  • Don’t run from your feelings, feel them.
  • We may do things that boost our sense of self-esteem, so if we get our self-esteem through activities we are more likely to take risks.
  • It’s ok to face the discomfort. Normalize it and validate it.

Liz Collin

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