24 March 2020
I think we can agree that this is a very strange time, filled with uncertainty. The sudden disconnect from the routines and practices that have been filling my everyday life has been difficult to deal with, but here are some things that have worked for me.
I've been lucky enough to have been able to come home and be with my family during this time.
Now I'm an introvert, so spending time at home has never been a problem for me. In fact, it’s not an understatement to say that I never leave the house unless I absolutely must. So, I’m pretty much a self-proclaimed professional at social distancing.
Here are my tips.
This has been paramount to me, especially when it comes to dealing with my anxiety. Even though classes have now moved online, things are still very much still up in the air. Doing a creative and collaborative subject like drama means that ‘distance learning’ isn’t an effective way to learn, though my lecturers have all been doing an amazing job trying to find a solution that benefits everyone. Nonetheless, it means that my anxiety has been through the roof as of late.
I’ve started each day waking up, having breakfast and getting some fresh air before sitting down to do any work. I’ve also started making lists of all the things for me to accomplish throughout the day so that I don’t get frazzled.
Switching off from work has always been a big problem for me, which is why I liked being able to walk to and from university every day.
With work and study now in one space it’s a lot more difficult to switch off. That’s why I only let myself do work at my dining table. I also have alarms on my phone every two hours or so to remind me to take a break. I’ve also got the added benefit of a Fitbit watch that reminds me to get up and stretch every hour.
During breaks I've allowed myself small luxuries, such as reading, snacks and meals, and even going outside in the garden for some fresh air so that I'm not stuck behind a screen all day or focusing on work whilst I should be on a break.
Weekends have been reserved for time away from all things work so I’ve had time to focus on me and my family!
Having to spend time travelling between university and home could mean I was tired, or didn’t have time to do some of the things I used to.
Since having all this time on my hands, I realise that I have plenty of time to do things I actually enjoy instead of just trying to pass the time. I’ve recently got back into writing and I'm excited about it! I’ve also started reading the Game of Thrones series because I can finally read something that isn’t Renaissance literature: yay!
The silver lining too, is that I’m able to have fun and spend time with my family. Last night we played Scrabble which of course I won (studying English literature has its perks). I’ve had time to cook more than pasta, and I've even gotten back into working out – even if it is from home.
The worry is that social distancing could mean feeling lonely or constrained. It’s very easy to get caught up in the negative. But no man is an island. Being with family has stopped me from isolating myself or feeling lonely.
If you’re not around family, I’ve found myself using social media a lot more to communicate with friends and family who I can’t see at the moment. You can even get in touch with old friends.
For those who are practising members of faith communities, this can be a very difficult time too. I’m Catholic, and recently it was decided that masses would no longer be held. I was devastated! Mass is a special time and one of the ways I personally feel connected to my faith. As the Lenten season continues and Easter approaches, the more disheartened I feel at not being able to celebrate such a huge event in church.
All was not lost, though. Sunday gone was the Second Sunday of Lent, and a multitude of churches live-streamed mass so that people could still ‘attend’. My heart was touched in a different way: more than 15,000 people watched that particular mass, and it was one of many. I felt present and blessed that I would still have a way to feel connected with my community in faith.
If there is anything that I have learnt thus far, it’s that human beings are resilient creatures and in times of uncertainty we rise to adversity. As things stand, yes, it is a strange and uncertain time, but I am choosing to also look at it as a time of opportunity and growth.
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