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Social distancing: tips to stay sane while at home

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A student at the University of Massachusetts speaks with a person via teleconference on their laptop

It’s no secret that COVID-19 has turned our lives upside down. Not only has the world seemingly come to a halt, we’ve also been forced to reshape the way we live our lives. It was a sudden and difficult change, but it’s not an impossible one. Here are some tips to cope with social distancing and the brave new world we all have to live in.  

  1. Work from home, but do it right

Working or studying from home (or both), is something that billions of people around the world have had to get used to, and it’s not an easy adjustment. On my part, it’s been a challenge to learn how to manage my own time and get assignments done by the end of the week, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s had to shift the way I approach my learning/working. It’s hard, but not impossible.

My stepsister successfully completed her degree fully online by establishing specific times to work every day. From 8 am to 1 pm, she would work on her classes and nothing else. No one at home could disturb her, and she would sit at her desk and work during that time. Now, you don’t need to lock yourself in your room for five hours a day to make it work — but establishing a specific time (or multiple times throughout the day) and place to do your work will help.

Other tips I found useful are:

  • Find a place that’s comfortable but not too distracting
  • Allow yourself to take breaks but don’t abuse them
  • Minimize distractions as much as possible
  1. Don’t forget about your mental health

Between the general panic in the world constantly plaguing the news, and learning a completely new at-home-lifestyle, your mental health is going to need some help to get your through this. My suggestion is to take some time for yourself and meditate as often as you can, even if it’s just for five minutes. There’s a ton of free apps and YouTube videos that offer guided meditations. My personal favorite is Calm, but there’s an ocean of them to choose from.

Another thing I do sometimes is to limit COVID-19 discussions. It’s important to always stay informed, especially now, but nobody can blame you for wanting to take a break from the panic and chaos every now and then.

You could also use humor to cope with everything. If there’s one thing to say about this generation, is that we can make jokes about anything and everything. It’s not insensitive to try and find some humor about the situation, and it helps relieve some of the constant stress we’re all feeling.  

  1. Stay active

The world might’ve given us the most valid excuse to become couch potatoes. After all, staying at home is how we can help save the world. It’s so easy to just sit on your couch or lie in bed and binge-watch something on Netflix for hours on end, but it’s important to try and stay active. Plus, it’s a different way to kill time and stay healthy at the same time! There are endless free YouTube videos and fitness apps that have programs designed to be done at home. My personal favorite is the Just Dance app, which has a fitness section with workouts set to fun music. You could work out just about anywhere in your home, so you can stay healthy while helping save the world.

  1. We’re all alone together

Social distancing has us feeling lonelier than ever, especially people who live alone. But I’ve noticed that because we’re going through this globally, it’s this very social distancing that’s bringing us closer than ever before. Remember that just because you’re socially isolated from society, it doesn’t mean that you’re not part of it.

Call your friends and family members. You can vent to them; talk about a new show you’ve been watching or what you’ve been eating; share tips for staying sane; or just virtually hang out like you normally would. My family has started to share what they had for lunch in our family groupchat. It’s mindlessly fun and it’s a different way of checking in with loved ones. Technology today gives us the opportunity to stay together even though we have to be apart.

  1. Follow the guidelines

This should go without saying, but please wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds (bonus tip: sing a song for 20 seconds while you do it) as often as you can and every single time you return home from outside. Stay at home as much as humanly possible. If you have to go outside, avoid direct contact with others and stay at least six ft. apart. If you feel like you’re coming down with a cold, or feel any of the COVID-19 symptoms, go into self-quarantine and contact your health provider.

And, most importantly, remember that this shall pass. It may feel like the end of the world, but we’ll get through it, and we will have to do it together.

Topic: 

Academics
Life at UMass

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