The Pressure to Find Purpose During Quarantine

We have all heard that quarantine is the perfect time to find a new hobby, read that new book, or Marie Kondo your entire house. While these might sound fun in general, pushing this idea into society during a time like this can leave certain people feeling even worse about their situation. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone differently. Some may have thrived and overcome personal struggles, while others may have been pushed to their mental limits. The WHO/Europe reports on how the virus and subsequent quarantine has led to elevated levels of anxiety and depression in citizens, so promoting quarantine as a time to create the best version of oneself could be dangerous. Specifically for young adults, another aspect that is contributing to the mental health struggles is the fact that there has been a huge economic toll taken upon hundreds of thousands of college students and their families. Job loss, stock crashes, and other financial struggles have left students scrambling for ways to pay for their education. Taking this into account, the conversation around finding purpose during quarantine excludes the people that feel as though they need this time to rest and process the world's uncertainty. To address this, the conversation should promote a message that encourages people to do what makes them happy, whether that means going for a run twice a day or binge-watching a new show. 

Personally, I have fallen into the middle category of this topic. I haven't become the best version of myself, but I have also been motivated to try new things. During the beginning of quarantine, I realized the need for routine in my life. I thrive knowing that there is something I need to accomplish. Creating a productive morning routine has made all the difference for me and has given me the chance to have structure in my life while also giving my body time to dictate how the rest of the day will be spent. Right after I wake up, I always make my bed. It is a small task that makes me feel like I've completed something. Next, I work out for 15-20 minutes. Nothing too strenuous, but enough to make me sweat. After that, I shower and make breakfast. By the time this is all done, it's only been an hour or so since I woke up, and I feel rejuvenated. Once that is finished, I like to give myself the space to decide whether I need a relaxation day or a productive day. 

For me, finding the balance between total rest time and total creative time has been a lifesaver. Taking the time to listen to my what my body needs has made me less fearful of the future, more optimistic about the aftermath of COVID-19 (such as the potential to positively impact climate change, reconstructing the struggling U.S. healthcare and education systems, and fostering a more empathetic society), and happier with the person I am becoming.

2020 has been the most unexpected year of our lives. I find solace in the fact that everyone around the world is struggling to comprehend this situation. The best advice I have is to focus on your mental health, check-in with yourself, and do what brings you joy. Continue to practice social distancing even as areas around the nation begin to reopen. Things probably will not go exactly back to normal, but as a society, we might be better for it. Finding a way to ground yourself during this time is one of the best things you can do.