We all know by now that social distancing and staying home have become the social norm since COVID-19, aka Coronavirus, landed in the United States. Universities and schools have switched to online classes, most of us are working from home, and medical professionals as well as people in the food and restaurant industries are risking their own health to keep us healthy and nourished.
As a twenty-one year old, young professional in Washington, DC, my life was already a rollercoaster before the Coronavirus outbreak; I was still trying to get my life in order, while also having some semblance of fun, as my friends continued their class work and I dove deep into the working world. Since the outbreak, sometimes it seems that any progress I made on improving my life was completely destroyed. My routine is now off, I sleep forever, and my social life seems to have gone from limited to non-existent. However, through speaking with friends, mentors, and my therapist, I’ve realized that we’re all going through it. So why not attempt to make life feel a little more normal?
Right now, I’m working on incorporating these five things into my life -- things that I was already doing but are now more difficult because of self-isolation. If you’re like me and are struggling to feel “normal” during this stressful and anxiety-provoking time, take a look at the tips below, and give them a try!
Set up a routine
Setting a routine is difficult even without an out-of-nowhere pandemic crisis; so when people say “oh, just set a routine and stick to it,” what they seem to not understand is that that is hard. If you’re a young professional like myself, or if you’re a millennial that’s still living in a cramped apartment, it’s likely that you’re currently doing work from your bedroom or on the couch. And possibly falling asleep in the meantime. All this is to say - setting up a routine was hard before, and it’s even harder now. I am over 10 days into self-isolation, and I'm still struggling to set up a reasonable routine. If you’re having trouble with this, join me in writing a routine down and attempting to stick to it. But also allow yourself some leeway - we are in a global pandemic after all!
Yes, we are social distancing, but we also have to go outside - for our own sanity and the survival of our roommates (we’re not going crazy...yet). Take a walk, avoid people on the streets, and make sure you wash your hands afterwards. You’re still isolating, just outside.
Talk to people
As an introvert, I am slightly thriving during this pandemic. Is that wrong to say? I don’t mind going hours, even days, without talking to too many people. But even as an introvert, I know that I need social interaction to stay mentally healthy and engaged with the outside world. Calling, video chatting, and talking to the people you’re quarantined with are great ways to stay somewhat engaged, even if you’re okay on your own. Make sure to reach out to the people in your life who are struggling with being alone.
Limit your news exposure
This one is hard. With “nothing to do” after the work day is done or your schoolwork is finished, most of us are turning to social media. I, myself, admit I have a problem. Social media can be a great thing during times of isolation, but the constant flow of news and statistics is really overwhelming. I’ve had a few friends tell me they’re only checking the news once a day or once in the morning and once at night. I think that’s a good way to limit your news exposure. However, does that mean I need to stay off social media all day? That’s not reasonable to the average Gen Z. My tip is to scroll over news throughout the day, not clicking on the article unless it’s during your “news time”. Scroll down to cat videos instead.
Allow time to rest
Sigh. Does anyone else feel like it’s a blessing in disguise that we finally get a chance to catch our breath? I’ve only been back in DC for three months, and I am already exhausted. No matter how much self-care you do or how much coffee you drink, nothing compares to sleeping in a few hours just because you can.
We can learn a lot from this outbreak, but the one thing I know I’ll be taking with me is that people need rest. I need rest. I’ve checked in with a lot of my friends, and they are better-rested and itching to “get on” with life. My main finding, though, is that people don’t know how to be bored. People don’t know how to just exist. Now, this is a generalization. However, I’ve found that most people do not know how or do not allow themselves to rest -- only when their head hits their pillow and they can finally pass out do they relax. Do you know anyone like that?
From my perspective, it’s the people who need time to process and release emotions - and are avoiding doing so - who keep their life so fast-paced that they never have to stop and think. Allowing time to rest is essential to our well-being and health. Allowing ourselves to sit with our emotions and feel them is something we, in our American society, do not do. Let yourself be bored. Let yourself think. Let yourself cry and process. It’s important. And you’ll feel lighter after you do. Rest. You have time now, don’t you?
Thanks for reading. Please share and comment. I’d love to hear your opinions!