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Mental Health

Small Victories in this Dark Time

I decided that to shed a little light on the darkness that today brings, that I’d share a few things that I’ve managed to accomplish while stuck in quarantine. They are: 

1. Getting a full night’s rest!

I wasn’t able to sleep. 

Turns out the change in routine, not being able to see my friends who used to live just seconds away from me, being confined to one setting every hour of every day, transitioning to online classes, and having rising levels of anxiety and fear, has caused me to wake up in the middle of the night, wide awake for no reason, unable to go back to sleep until 2-3 hours later. While aware of the severity of the current situation, I was completely unaware of the impact it would have on my own body and my well being in general.

However, after a full week to a week and a half had passed of being isolated at home, I did it! I finally slept through the night. I remember waking up that morning in shock, thinking, ‘wait, is it really 10am or is my mind tricking me right now?’ (which is very easy to do because I have black out shades and it feels like nighttime even late into the day). 

Don’t get me wrong, I still wake up here and there but it’s not nearly as bad as it was before. And I think I can credit that to coming to the realization that I’m not the only one going through this time… it’s not a personal issue. Everyone has been hit in the face with this pandemic and our lives have been flipped upside down. It’s a chaotic and stressful time but acknowledging the fact that I’m not alone and that someone else completely understands where I stand right now, eases my worries a lot. I’ve also realized that creating a workspace separate from my bed has given me the ability to only associate that part of my room with where I sleep. By getting up every morning, making my bed, and solely using my desk for all things school related, I know that when I do lay down at night, that I’m there to rest – not work. Amongst others, these things have made it easier for me to stick my bottle of Melatonin back in the medicine cabinet and drift off to sleep in a more natural and peaceful way.    

2. Improving the quality of my own self-care.   

After taking a self-care assessment for one of my classes, it became very evident that I need to be kinder to my body and listen to it’s needs and wants more often. In the hopes of achieving this, I’ve taken a few steps, outlined below. 

I’ve always wanted to switch to a natural deodorant and have taken this time to do just that! I’m only about a week in and absolutely love it! I have to admit I’m going through that detox period while transitioning over but I know in the end it’ll be all worth it. If you want to make the switch, or are more curious about why doing so has a ton of added benefits that normal deodorants do not, I highly recommend doing some research. My favorite, after doing lots of searching and testing it out for myself, is Schmidt’s Charcoal + Magnesium!  

Along with a change in my personal hygiene products, I’ve decided that it’s time to switch up my hair washing routine. I normally would wash my hair every day – I know that’s wicked awful, believe me I’m seeing the damage in it now – but recently, I’ve tried for every 2 days or so. Hopefully by the end of all this, my hair will be much healthier, thicker, and silkier.    

Somehow I’ve managed to also deep-clean my bedroom and get rid of 5 bags of clothes, shoes, trinkets, you name it! Being able to reorganize my closet, drawers, and other storage, finally go through my backpack from high school, dust off my shelves, and take a trip down memory lane while doing so, has made the space seem a lot more open than before. Not to mention it’s also the cleanest it’s ever been! It’s nice to be able to go in my room, look around and not be ambushed by clutter. Even though it took a couple of days to do, I’m so glad that I did it. 

With all of this free-time I’ve decided to embark on a journey to self-love. I’ve always had a hard time looking in the mirror and seeing the person staring back at me – going through times of abusing the gym and my diet versus completely letting myself go. I’ve decided to combat that once and for all by utilizing this time to get a workout in once a day, regardless of how long it takes to complete, and by allowing myself to eat certain foods without dwelling on the possible consequences of it. I have to realize that a brownie or cookie will not backtrack my progress and that everything comes in moderation. Currently, I’m on day 9 of a 2 week program that’s kicking my booty. But, it’s proving just how strong and dedicated I am to showing that I am enough, that my body is enough. I’m not trying to change it, I’m just trying to work with what I’ve got and stay active during this time. It’s also taught me that beauty does not correlate with weight. Weight is just a number on a scale and it means absolutely nothing. Everybody is beautiful, more so EVERY BODY is beautiful. And this is my way of building that confidence in my own. 

3. Staying connected with friends + loved ones through Facetime and Zoom  

It’s hard to feel connected when we’re all so separated right now. Being miles and miles away from my college friends, but also only moments away from my neighbors, hometown friends, and girlfriend, and knowing I can’t do anything about it, has put me in a really rocky place. But, being able to schedule weekly or nightly Facetime calls, movie dates, and random check-ins, has made it a little more bearable. I think it’s allowed for richer and deeper conversation, better listening, and more admiration for those so dear to me. Distance means so little when someone means so much, right? 

I think this time is also a blessing in disguise for everyone getting to come back home and live with their families. I know I’ve said this a lot but I think I’ve taken the relationships that I have with my parents and siblings for granted while away at college; being surrounded by them and having dinners all together, game nights, and so on and so forth, I’ve been able to see how truly lucky I am to have them. I’m more appreciative for them, even if we do get on each other’s nerves and bicker about little things. However, it’s also very different from how it was in elementary, middle, and high school. I’m not the once completely dependent individual I was. I’ve matured and don’t rely on them for every basic need. I’ve built independence and am not who I was years prior. That being said, getting to live with one another again has taken some getting used to. Living under their roof, I must listen to and respect their rules, for it’s their home and no longer a college dorm room where I can call the shots. While they’re still working, so am I. I’m still taking classes, just online, and trying to adapt my usual routine. But knowing that we’re able to come together at the end of the day, has brought back a little bit of that dependency; not just from me being reliant on them, but them being reliant on me as well. And that’s not a bad thing. We all need it right now and I’m beyond lucky to have them as a stable ground.  

So why did I write all of this? Well…

These are just a few things that I’ve managed to do and realize during my time at home, and honestly? I’m pretty dang proud of myself. But that doesn’t mean there’s days that I don’t spend unmotivated, struggling to get up out of bed. I wore the same sweatpants for a week straight. Yes, a full week straight. And you know what? That’s more than okay. Because what I wrote in this article is just a highlight. It doesn’t capture everything that’s been going on. The truth of the matter is, while it seems like I’ve been pretty productive and positive, this whole COVID-19 thing has taken a huge toll on me. What keeps me going is knowing that they’ll be more days and victories like the ones I discussed above. I don’t care if they’re weeks apart. I don’t care how small they are! I just know that there’s going to be more. And in the breaks in between, I know that doing nothing is just as worthy of celebration as what I’ve mentioned above. We’re all just trying to do our best here and at the end of the day, all we can do is the best we can do, whatever that may be; so, congratulations to us!

 

UNH 2022 Hey hey! My name's Liz and I'm a Human Development & Family Studies major. I love all things avocado, Disney and country and am so excited to be a part of this lovely org!
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