We’re going on about three weeks in quarantine, and I think we’re all starting to feel it’s effects, if we haven’t already. The days begin to blend together, 3 AM becomes our new midnight and all of a sudden ice cream for breakfast doesn’t seem that ridiculous. The grocery store is like a dystopian movie, and we don’t even know when this will all be over. Although it’s never been more difficult to focus on the little aspects of life, we do have an excess of one very hot commodity: time. We might as well use it to the best of our ability, to try and stay sane and maybe even better ourselves a little bit.
The good news: the outdoors is free, can be enjoyed in solitude and it’s only going to keep getting warmer. This has been a great opportunity for folks to rediscover how fulfilling the outdoors are in all their simplicity, especially in this age of technology and instant gratification. I’ve never seen more cars in the beach parking lot or people on the bike trails in March. From your backyard to the beach to the woods, there are many places to clear your head, to reset and take a break from the endless news cycles and the walls of your home. A multitude of studies have found that taking some time in nature makes people happier, kinder, less stressed and more creative. Even if you are in a city or your public outdoor spaces are closed, most would be surprised at the impact of just an open window and getting some fresh air to the brain.
There is no better time to pick up a new hobby or explore old or current ones. I know we all have a lot on our minds; music, art and writing are great ways to get these out and build a prideful skill at the same time. Learn a new instrument or how to draw, journal or just explore some old favorite albums. I’ve had Bright Eyes’ “I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning” and Clairo’s “Immunity” on repeat.
Although we can’t have our day drinks, sleepovers or birthday parties, we don’t need to stop seeing our friends and family. We live in an age of constant connection. You can shoot anybody a text, call or Facetime; Apple has even given us group Facetime. There’s an application that allows you to watch Netflix in real time with somebody. Plan a movie night! You can even play Cards Against Humanity online. Watch the sunset with a friend from your respective cars. Come to a Collegian zoom meeting!
Establish a routine
A psychology professor at Princeton University, Elke Weber, said “People need structure and things to anticipate.” This is the hardest part of this self-imposed quarantine for most of us, the lack of structure, especially those of us displaced from our lives at school and now many miles away. It takes a decent bit of self-control, but waking up at a reasonable time, eating a good 3 meals a day and getting the things done that need doing goes a long way in living a fulfilling life. Wake up on “school days,” get dressed, do your makeup even and do your work as you would’ve a few weeks ago. Make a schedule for the week and do your best to follow it. Save desserts and movie marathons for the evenings and weekends.
Look for the good
As stated before, we have more time right now than ever before. Learn something new, call an old friend, start that project you haven’t had time for. Duolingo is offering two months free to learn a new language. Be thankful that we have the privilege to be bored right now, in our houses with our phones and our families. There has been a quote circulating the Internet, that I think is worth sharing:
“When you go out and see the empty streets, the empty stadiums, the empty train platforms, don’t say to yourself, ‘It looks like the end of the world.’ What you’re seeing is love in action. What you’re seeing, in that negative space, is how much we do care for each other, for our grandparents, for our immuno-compromised brothers and sisters, for people we will never meet. People will lose jobs over this. Some will lose their businesses. And some will lose their lives. All the more reason to take a moment, when you’re out on your walk, or on your way to the store, or just watching the news, to look into the emptiness and marvel at all that love. Let it fill you and sustain you. It isn’t the end of the world. It is the most remarkable act of global solidarity we may ever witness.”
It’s far too easy to look outside right now and feel like everything is going wrong. Look instead to the love this all brings to light: to the healthcare workers risking their lives day in and day out, our essential workers keeping us fed and keeping everything clean, the people in their houses sewing masks, everyone willingly putting their life on hold to protect everyone around them. How the world reacts to this crazy situation we’re in right now will be in history books.
Allow yourself to feel discombobulated, displaced, to mourn the opportunities taken from you. Recognize that more will come. Everything, good and bad, is temporary. Take some time to take care of yourself.
Madison Cushing can be reached at [email protected]