Speak to Silence: Quarantine and loss of routine

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Photo Illustration by Susie Seidel

Finding a new routine during social distancing can mitigate mental health barriers.

As a second semester senior, you could say I have my routine down. I attend school and interact with my friends and peers, I go to practice or the gym for a workout, I come home, complete my homework and spend time with my loved ones. My meals are consistent and planned, I have some sense of control regarding my plans and actions and I feel comfortable going into each day knowing what to expect.

So, how did I react when each aspect of this routine was stripped in consideration of social distancing and the coronavirus pandemic? Not well.

Stress, anxiety and dread over the loss of control instantly flooded my thoughts. Whether or not an individual has struggled with an eating disorder or mental illness, I believe these emotions are not uncommon during such an unprecedented time. However, I became aware of my potential to revert back to disordered thoughts and actions as a result of this drastic change.

I am also aware that my eating disorder recognizes vulnerability, but I am strong enough to silence those thoughts and not lose the progress I have worked so hard to gain. Yes, I have lost my routine, but perhaps it was something I needed to get out of in order to challenge myself and create new and better habits. This is something we all can consider, and I have provided a few tips to adopting a new routine.

 

  1. Wake up at a similar time each day

 

No, you do not have to wake up at 6 a.m. like you would for school, but attempt to wake up at a similar time each day. If you notice this does not occur naturally, try setting an alarm. Doing this provides your mind and body consistency and trains your body clock to be more alert each day. 

 

2. Keep a notebook or planner

 

After waking up, set aside just a few minutes to write a to do list or plans for the day. Especially in light of eLearning, it is important you have things down so you don’t forget, and also find satisfaction in crossing each thing off! Prioritizing also allows you to accomplish things of the greatest importance first so you can still have time to relax and spend some quality quarantine time with your family.

 

3. Move your body

 

I have found movement is the best way for me to clear my mind and destress. Try going on a walk or watching a YouTube dance, yoga or at home workout video. This is also something fun that can be done with your family for a fun break of having nothing to do and sitting around the house. 

 

4. Reach out to friends and family

 

Recent times can feel very lonely, but social distancing does not mean we can’t be social! Zoom isn’t only for school, so set up a meeting with your good friends to catch up or use FaceTime. Chatting with different friends can be a great way to break up school work and remain feeling connected. We will get through this and be better together!

The circumstances we are facing in light of the coronavirus are not forcing us to stop our progress. Rather, they can challenge us to progress in a different, unexpectedly positive direction. Perhaps you’ll find in the midst of the mayhem, there are silver linings and opportunities for growth.