Similar to the experiences of many college students from around the world, my semester on campus came to an abrupt end when universities transitioned to online learning due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. I found myself in a situation that I had not anticipated and never experienced before. I was packing my belongings and moving back to my childhood home, with news of the cancellation of my summer internship and fall study abroad program weighing heavily on my mind. I spent my first weeks at home adjusting to a new class schedule, new academic requirements, and a new ‘normal’ in quarantine.
Now, having finished my final exams and completed my sophomore year of college, I have had the time to reflect upon my experiences. Amidst these times of great uncertainty, the physical, mental, and emotional challenges that we have endured and continue to face prove to be difficult in a variety of ways. I cannot change the circumstances that I find myself in. However, I have found that there are ways in which I can practice mindfulness in order take care of my physical well-being, attend to my emotions, and learn to be present despite it all.
Take it one day, or even one moment, at a time
I will be the first to admit that these past few months in quarantine have felt like a lot longer than a few months. It can be hard to wake up each day optimistic and motivated when I have no idea what the future holds. Despite this, what I can control is what I do each day. I do one thing at a time, whether that be schoolwork, cleaning up the house, or even just catching up on my favorite show. It isn’t always easy, but letting myself have the simple satisfaction of completing each task has helped me to feel a little more in control.
Don’t be afraid to reach out
With current social distancing measures, it is easy to feel isolated. Perhaps the biggest consolation that I have, though, has been the realization that I really, truly am not alone. The pandemic has touched almost every part of the globe, impacting the lives of all people. I may have to stand six feet apart from others and abstain from visiting my friends for the time being, but this does not mean that I cannot connect with the people that make my life meaningful. Send a text to let someone know you are thinking of them, give your grandparents a call, facetime with your friends, and spend time with the people that you are quarantining with. We can still be together, apart.
Remember to take care of yourself
Taking time out of your day to focus on your physical well-being is equally as important as caring for your mental and emotional health. I have found that spending time outside and walking my dog help me to feel more grounded. Setting goals for myself in relation to running and other physical activities fosters a sense of purpose within me. Practicing yoga and meditation, even just for thirty minutes a day, allows me to tune out the noise of outside circumstances and pay attention to what my body and soul need in that moment.
Despite everything that may have changed in your life as a result of the pandemic, it is valuable to focus on the aspects of your life that have remained stable. Remind yourself of the things that you can still be grateful for. I am thankful for my health and the health of my loved ones, for a home, and for the ability to continue pursuing my education remotely. The list goes on. Amidst the negative circumstances, focusing on the good helps me to feel a little less overwhelmed and a little more at peace each day.
At the end of the day, we cannot change the circumstances that we find ourselves in due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. What we can do is learn to practice mindfulness in order to cope with uncertainty and acknowledge that how we feel is valid. Take it one day at a time, find novel ways to connect with loved ones, attend to your body’s needs, and remind yourself each day to be grateful for the things that these unexpected circumstances have not changed in your life. We can and will get through this together – as communities, countries, and as one.