April 21, 2020

Almost everyone in America went from the hustle and bustle of our fast-paced society to a complete halt, being pent up at home and stuck with people you might not have chosen to live with. College students’ lives were uprooted, people lost their jobs and now we are currently under a stay-at-home order, driving some of us, including myself, insane. 

     However, I have good news: I’ve come up with several ways to cope with this quarantine and want to share specific things that have helped me maintain mental and physical health during this time. I’m not trying to say that quarantine is a good thing, but we really have no choice, so we may as well make the best out of the situation.

Mindfulness and being present is key right now

Right now, our anxieties surrounding the current pandemic and state of our country exist in both the past and the future; so, if we can remain in the present and in the now, then we will be distancing ourselves from these anxieties. Practicing mindfulness means being to acknowledge thoughts that come into your head and then letting them pass. Meditation is a great practice to harness and tap into mindfulness. Even if you start with only five minutes a day, sit down and be in your own presence. Acknowledge thoughts that come and place them in the back of your mind, without judgment and with full acceptance. Be patient with yourself; being alone with our thoughts can be very difficult for some. Try to enjoy right now, because as it just happens to be, that’s all there really is. The rest is uncertain.

Be Your Own Source of Love

During this time, loneliness can be especially crippling. We are so distant from each other socially. As very social beings that thrive and derive pleasure through interacting with others, a key part of our well-being is being compromised. Do not let this mean that you are not receiving love and appreciation. A few ways to practice self-love are through self-care: journal every morning or night for five to ten minutes. This gives us time to reflect and organize our thoughts and existence. Two friends and I organized a virtual writing club. We take turns each pitching a prompt to write, once a day, and then we share our thoughts over FaceTime. This has been a great way for me to do something creative while still staying connected with people I love. Self-expression is a great way to show self-love. Do a facemask, take a bath, cook a healthy and nourishing meal, read a book for enjoyment or go for a run. These are all ways that you can show yourself some appreciation during a lonely quarantine.

Move Your Body

Depression and anxiety’s best friend are immobility. Try to stay active and move your body. Sitting in bed all day is so damaging to the psyche and our dopamine levels. Exercise of any kind is beneficial when we are quarantined. Even though we are stuck inside, there are still plenty of options: do an hour long vinyasa flow yoga session with a YouTube video instructing you; dance as an exercise to a Zumba video; do a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workout on the Gymshark app (for free); go for a run if your able or just get some sunshine on your roof; stretch before bed or in the morning. All these practices will help your mental and physical health during this time.

Be Forgiving and Patient with Yourself and Others

I think it’s hard to remember that everyone is struggling, not just you, to varying degrees. This is a very hard time, and there is no denying that it is challenging for all of us. Do not be too hard on yourself; you are going to eat something you wish you wouldn’t have or sleep-in a little longer than you would’ve expected; you might have a few more drinks than you wish you would’ve; you might miss some assignments or find a lack of motivation to complete assignments online: it’s OK. You are going to disappoint yourself, and others that you are quarantined with might also disappoint you. The important thing to remember is that being mad, judgmental, rude, mean or acting out is not going to help the situation in any way. Be an understanding human being and understand that everyone is struggling, living, coping and getting by in any means necessary right now, and thatis OK. If you or others are anything else other than nonjudgmental, supportive or loving during this time, it will just make your life and everyone’s around you more difficult. Do not make yourself have to struggle extra and be kind to yourself.

Be Alone

 As the very independent person that I am, it has been extremely difficult for me to adjust to living with both of my parents and two sisters again. However, I realized I just needed to set boundaries for myself and talk to my loved ones about needing time alone. I will sit in my room doing homework or reading or go for a walk alone just to be with myself and not feel suffocated. My freedom and independence felt threatened at the beginning of quarantine, but balancing my time with others as much as I can has been super helpful.

Weed (only if it is legally available to you) and coffee

 It has been so difficult to complete all the tasks I have on my plate, thus creating a lot of anxiousness and exhaustion. To combat this, I smoke some weed and plan time in my day to do something I love and to feel creative: have a dance party in my room alone and feel my body move freely, do yoga and light candles, water color paint with my sisters or write some poetry. This allows me to let go, relax and just be. I also splurged and bought an espresso machine from Amazon. It was only $50, and I figured that since I wouldn’t spend any money at coffee shops in the next month or so (and I usually spend around $50 at least at coffee shops), that it wasn’t an unreasonable purchase. I make an oat milk latte every morning for myself, drink it outside and it helps me kick-start my day.

Be in nature (if possible) and stay in touch with those you love / Be creative

The last recommendation I have is to try to go into nature. This means hiking while social distancing or getting outside if it is safe. Nature always seems to feed my soul and makes me appreciate life. Also, a lot of people have been split up from their loved ones, friends and family, so stay in touch as best you can. I try to FaceTime my friends at least once a week, my best friend once a day and call my family members. This helps to make you feel not as alone, but it also helps you to feel connected. Maintaining our social network through social distancing is hard, but not impossible. The people who love you will be waiting for you after quarantine. Try to use this time to focus on bettering yourself: if this just means getting out of bed, then that’s OK. Sometimes, time is all we need for creativity and to make or create something beautiful, so try to utilize this time for the better. Use your gifts, talents and passions and create to expel some of that pent-up energy.