How To Avoid Going Stir-Crazy During Quarantine

Times are stressful and now more than ever it’s important to take time to care for your health and well-being. It’s possible to do this while trying your best to retain any sense of normalcy, whether this is continuing your daily routine (indoors), incorporating new measures to remain relaxed and calm (especially with many of us back home right now), and generally doing things that are healthy for your body and mind. These practices can take on a lot of different forms for a lot of different people. I’ve chosen to highlight my ideal “productive” day while taking into account other peoples’ situations and abilities during this time. 

This is not to say there is a “right” way to be productive or avoid cabin fever. In fact, it may be hard to be productive at all right now, but any effort put forward to put yourself on the right track right now will have great benefits. Go easy on yourself but make sure you are doing what’s best for you. If that involves endless productivity and interaction day after day, that’s great! If you struggle to work on assignments, catch up on lectures, or complete errands or club work, you can focus on the small victories and make baby steps within the means you were given.

#1: Morning RitualSkincare morning routineNo matter what it is and how much time it takes, waking up and having a morning ritual, whether it be exercise, meditation, making a good breakfast, or even just talking with family or friends, having something you can look forward to each morning adds structure to your day. It is also a sure-fire way to give you a little mental boost to begin your tasks! As long as you are consistent, this is a great way to combat any lingering boredom or guilt for the changing environment. I find exercise really kick starts my day and, though it may not be fun in the moment, the feeling afterwards and into the rest of the day gives you energy to do more. 

#2: Leisure Time

Making sure you have time to relax and unwind - without any guilt - is essential. Watching movies, tv, or playing video games with family or (social distancing) friends can give you a sense of normalcy and structure, despite it being a seemingly unproductive activity. Websites such as Netflix Party and Discord, as well as Zoom and Google Hangouts allow friends and family to connect remotely. They’re not just tools for work or class meetings - they can help you retain some semblance of your social life as it existed before social distancing separated us from our friends. This is only one facet of leisure time, however. Going on a walk and getting active or going for a drive counts as leisure time, as well! It helps connect you with your surroundings just a little bit more, which is very important right now. Also, having these designated times for relaxation can end up making your work tasks more productive!

#3: Productive Time

Speaking of work tasks, these productive times are important no matter how much time or effort you are able to put forward. Many people turn to work in times of boredom or anxiety because it gets their mind off of things for a bit. This isn’t a bad habit, as long as you incorporate healthy practices into your workspace and beyond. Things such as catching up on lectures and schoolwork, completing any club work, and applying for internships are all examples of ways to be productive. However, productivity does not have a specific rate or scope. You can be productive by taking care of yourself, by seeking advice or comfort from a friend or family member, by checking even the smallest task off of your to-do list. As long as you are consistently moving forward, no matter the speed, you are being productive. Take the time to value what puts you in a focused mindset.

#4: Food

Ah, food. My favorite part of being quarantined. While I miss school and the structure and stimulation it brings, I really enjoy home-cooking my own meals, which is something that wasn’t readily available to me in the dorms. Looking up new recipes, refining old recipes and experimenting with food is a great way to pass the time. Plus, you get to enjoy and share the end result with your quarantine buddies, whoever they are. Look up recipes online, on Twitter, or on Instagram (these ones are especially fun to recreate!). It’s a great way to keep your hands and your mind busy for a little while and you can readily enjoy the result, whether it be flourless peanut butter cookies or handmade pasta. Start cooking and get your nutritional and creative juices flowing!

three glass dishes sit side by side on the counter full of colorfully arranged veggies#5: Nightly Ritual

To wrap it all up, having a nightly ritual, much like having a morning ritual, helps ground you.  Face masks and skincare, in addition to nighttime tea might do the trick for some people. For others, it's more creative activities such as knitting or embroidery (which are, objectively, quite fun activities - no, I am not a grandma). Some even decide to get active at night before bed, through intense cardio or more calming yoga. Whatever it is, choose the activity that you can see yourself doing consistently (or semi-consistently) every night and actually enjoy. Take that time to take care of yourself and you will see the benefits. 

I hope all these things can help to ground some people in these uncertain times. Having the right mindset goes a very long way; the efforts put forth to try to regain some semblance of normalcy, in whatever way that materializes for people, will provide benefits. This is an unprecedented situation pervading everybody’s life, so be sure to take care of yourself and your community first by doing your part to mitigate the spread. Then, you can prioritize putting effort back into your life and trying to enrich it as much as possible given the circumstances. So get out there (okay, not actually out) and live your quarantined life to the fullest!