Taking advantage of social isolation

A young woman looks out a window with a composition notebook in hand.

As the COVID-19 virus has become a greater concern, people have been responding. More than 160 countries have closed down their schools, due to the virus (1). Many people have lost jobs or have been sent to work from home. Currently, us students at UMass Boston have been sent home and told to do our work through remote learning means.

This may all seem really scary. However, it’s important for us to not panic and focus on staying healthy. It also is a good idea to try our best to make the most of this hard time.

The best way to do this is by acknowledging the potential benefits and pitfalls of the current situation, which are the same thing, in some situations. We can utilize this time to work on our pitfalls. We can also focus in order to take full advantage of the potential benefits.

One potential perk is the lessened level of distractions. There’s no option to go out to the movies with friends or party late into the night. We are all, for the most part, stuck in our houses. This allows time for both solitude and focus.

On the rest of it, try taking up meditation. This is the perfect time for self care. You can find free classes online for things like painting or yoga; the UMass Boston recreation center is doing virtual fitness classes four days a week, for example. You also could try taking up journaling, learn some new healthy recipes, or even just enjoy being able to play some of your favorite music. You have the time to spend on yourself and enjoy not having to go anywhere for awhile.

This also allows you more time to focus on your studies and career. Be careful not to allow yourself to fall into the black hole of mindless phone scrolling or Netflix binging for hours. I’d recommend creating a daily schedule to follow still, with time devoted to things like studying and exercise. Spend time adjusting to the new remote learning programs and work hard at those courses. Maybe look into summer internships or updating or creating your LinkedIn profile, while you’re at it.

For those of you who went home to a caring family, you now have the challenge or blessing of getting along with them for the foreseeable future. I have felt tension in my own house already, from having the four of us cooped up together nearly 24/7. I have also felt us grow closer through it though. Take time for yourself, but maybe also suggest a family game night here or there. This is an opportunity to spend more time with them again.

This time can also challenge how you see the world. As you adjust to a life where you’re mostly isolated, this allows time for self-reflection as well as reflecting on the things you have compared to the situations that others are in. Try coming up with one thing you’re thankful for everyday, if you’re feeling down. The American Heart Association even has a good challenge for this, called the 21 Days of Gratitude (2).

Lastly, don’t isolate yourself completely. Call, text, or video chat with your friends if you are able to. Go for short walks outside to get some sunlight and fresh air in your life. Life is still happening. Take care of yourself.

 

 

(1)

https://en.unesco.org/themes/education-emergencies/coronavirus-school-closures

 

(2)

https://www.heart.org/-/media/healthy-living-files/infographics/21-days-of-gratitude_infographic.pdf?la=en&hash=F0ED384FA398546A4B9E1C35F72E2F9EA057FFBC 

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