With the start of the spring semester, it has been almost one year since classes shifted to a virtual setting in response to COVID-19. When reflecting on the first few months of quarantine and the start of online schooling, many were unsure as to when a sense of normalcy would return.
March is now only a month away and within that year, more than 25 million cases of coronavirus have been confirmed with over 400,000 deaths in the United States alone. In addition, new COVID-19 variants have been reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and have sparked an increased concern as many of these variants have been found to be more contagious than the original strain. Even as COVID-19 vaccines are being distributed, the struggle to continue pace with the demand for the vaccine is leaving many unsure as to when they will be eligible to receive their first round of the vaccine.
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These facts reveal that a timeline for exactly when schools and businesses will reopen to in-person settings still remains unknown. As a result, it is important for people to maintain a sense of routine in their schedules, as well as find outlets that relieve the stress and the anxieties that have been exacerbated by quarantine in order to sustain their motivation.
For me, since last March, I have had all of my classes, as well as my job, be conducted completely virtual and like many others, have succumbed to Zoom fatigue. As someone who once was very proactive, I now struggle to muster the initiative to start my work and my day in a way that reflects a structured schedule. Once the fall semester hit, I knew that I needed to adopt new work habits that channeled my productivity. After trying various suggestions, including waking up earlier and restricting my phone and social media time, I found that dressing up for class often produced the best results.
Before quarantine, I loved getting dressed up for the school day. Picking out a trendy or fashionable outfit, along with doing my hair and makeup, always gave me an outlet to really just take time for myself before my busy day of classes and work. I would constantly sport some sparkly eyeshadow and winged eyeliner while paired with a pleather skirt and heeled booties.
However, when classes then went virtual, I began to skip over that portion of my morning routine as I practically resided in my room for the entirety of the day. I replaced my eyeshadow and eyeliner with spot acne treatments and traded my pleather skirt and booties for my fleece pajama pants. Not only did I begin to overlook the need for self-care by ignoring this step in my routine, but I also lost the joy of taking off my makeup after a long day and slipping on my pajamas after spending the day in jeans or a dress. The satisfaction I derived from the structure of getting ready for the day and then rewinding were lost as a result. This impacted my productivity and I often felt unmotivated to start my work as the balance between school and my personal care began to blur.
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When school started again, I knew that I needed to continue the practice of dressing up for class in order to replicate the sense of normalcy and stability that was very much needed but at that time, very absent in my life. Dressing up everyday for class instilled this desire in me and has had positive ramifications on both my efficacy and confidence in my school work. No longer doing my school work in bed, dressing up forced me to create a much needed barrier between school time and me time. In addition, quarantine made me realize that taking that time in both the morning and in the night allowed me to re-appreciate the subtle nuances of this practice.