I’m sure everyone is feeling it just about now. The sharp sting of isolation, the monotony of everyday life in the midst of a pandemic our country was not prepared for, maybe even the recurring feeling of hopelessness as we face a problem that has no definitive end in sight.
Personally, I have struggled a great deal with finding how to cope with quarantine. However, I hope I can help others by sharing the tips that have helped me:
My name is Maddie and I am a rising junior at the University of Michigan. When the COVID-19 situation started escalating in March and I was forced to leave college, you can imagine I was completely out of sorts. Not only was I leaving an independent life I had grown quite accustomed to, but I was also returning to a life that I had forgotten how to live. A life where parents are constantly questioning about my whereabouts and plans and family dinners are an expectation.
Being thrust back into my childhood life, I felt confused and alone, as if time had stopped and maybe I never even went to college in the first place.
But the one thing that reminded me of the actuality of my college experiences was the deep and haunting feeling of missing my friends. Over the past two years, these people helped me grow, helped me fit in, and most of all, made Michigan feel like home.
So how did I deal with this?
I’ll be the first to say I’m not perfect. Not everything I’ve tried has helped me cope with quarantine and soothe the anxiety and feelings of depression I have felt as a result of this pandemic. But here’s what has brought me some joy amidst a seemingly unending darkness.
1. Zoom. At first, I was not a big fan of Zoom. This is probably because I associated online classes with this resource. But now I think of Zoom more endearingly. It’s the place where I can see all of my friends at once, despite the distance. We have also found ways to have fun over Zoom through using games like Jackbox and Skribblio. There are several different Jackbox sets available, each of which including different game packs. On the other hand, Skribblio is a free online pictionary-type game. Both have led to a lot of laughs for me and my friends. I would highly recommend them to anyone looking to add some fun to their Zoom calls with friends.
2. Working Out. I feel like working out is something many people have turned to during quarantine. But from what I’ve seen, it seems like most people are doing it solely to come out of quarantine with a six pack (Chloe Ting’s “two week shred” has been popular among people my age).
I’ve learned, though, that working out has become a welcome distraction for me from everything else that is going on.
It’s a time when all that is on my mind is pushing through the next exercise, going faster if I can, and getting better. During this time, I can channel my anxiety into what I’m doing to help alleviate some of the stress I’ve been feeling. Personally, I’ve been using the Insanity Program with fitness instructor Shaun T (this can be found here). Honestly, it doesn’t really matter what program you use or how you decide to work out. Just remember that working out can serve as an extremely helpful outlet for the emotions you’ve been feeling during quarantine and can provide some relief when you need it most.
3. Smiling. When we smile, positive neural messaging is activated in the brain. This is because in general, when we smile, we’re happy. One day when I was feeling especially stressed and lonely, I began smiling to see if it would help. To my surprise, I actually felt an instant improvement in my attitude. Try it out some time!
4. Finding Purpose. This one has probably been the most challenging. Since classes have ended, I’ve had a lot more free time.
But this has actually ended up being some of the fun of learning how to cope with quarantine – finding new things to delve into that feel meaningful.
One thing I’ve really been trying to do is learn how to play guitar. We’ve had a guitar in our basement for over a decade. Yet no one in my family knows how to play. So I decided to start learning. It’s been really fun and fulfilling, and now that I know some chords, I use Guitar Tabs to play some of my favorite songs. Playing also brings me peace for some reason, as it feels like a disconnect from social media and cell phones. I also play ukulele (I played this first, so it did help in learning guitar) and use Ukutabs to play songs.
Another great way to find purpose is through taking free online classes.
Coursera offers free classes in hundreds of different subjects and is a great way to learn about subjects that you may not have time for outside of quarantine. Personally, I began a finance class on Coursera through Yale University. If you’re interested, here it is.
Ultimately, these methods have brought me some joy despite what’s been going on in the outside world. I hope that they can help you find for yourself how to cope with quarantine.