Let’s face it: We’re tired of sickness, masks, and worrying about the stability of the future. Since lockdowns started in 2020, we’ve only been thinking about all we’ve lost: large gatherings, face-to-face interaction, even the ability to interpret microexpressions behind another’s mask.
But do we think about all we’ve gained? This past year was not easy, but quarantine stories about family improvement and personal development show us that our struggle was not without reward.
It may seem strange that locking ourselves behind doors can do any good, but maybe the time alone was just what the doctor should have ordered. We lost in-person classes, but confidence in ourselves and bonds between family members are stronger than ever.
What have you learned in lockdown? Here are six quarantine stories that will shift your paradigm of the pandemic and give you hope for an uncertain future:
In this post:
How Quarantine Changed My Perspective on Life
Quarantine has actually had a pretty positive impact on a personal level. It has changed my perspective on life. I’m finally able to take a breath and pause and reestablish a rhythm. I’m feeling less pressure to be constantly externalizing, socializing, or working.
But, I definitely also had a period of time towards the beginning where there was a lot of fear, anxiety, and grief over the changes. I’m not immune to the less delightful experiences as well.
All of my work can still be fully done with slight adjustments. I was already working primarily from home. I was running a community through an art center, running my personal astrology business, and teaching some classes. Now, I’m doing all of that at home. The only difference is that I take the classes online.
For me, it’s just been cutting out a lot of the fluff. Cutting out the commutes, cutting out having to get my energy ready for the next thing so many times throughout the day. I haven’t had an 8-hour workday since I quit my classroom teaching job a few years ago, so it’s been disjunct.
Now, I feel like I just have a lot more freedom, even though I had most of this freedom before. I just wasn’t giving myself permission to operate the autonomy I had. I kept putting pressure on myself to fit my schedule into something that looked more like our conventional, capitalistic calendaring of the week.
Now, I feel like I’ve let out a deep sigh of relief and allowed myself to get more in touch with my natural rhythm, which is making it so I’m as productive with a lot less stress.
My hope for everyone is that we all have an adjustment of values. We need to look a little more from a wider lens at our relationship to work and schedules. It is important to recognize that we really don’t need to be in a constant rat race.
There is no reason that we can’t slow down and have more autonomy with what we’re doing with our time. We should not be so be oppressed by a schedule that doesn’t fit a natural way of living. I don’t want to bypass the pain of everything going on. I definitely feel it and know that I have a lot of privilege.
There’s a lot of people struggling more than I am. But, I feel that there’s a definite, absolute silver lining being offered a chance to awaken to what is wrong with the pressures of society put on individuals.
In some ways, it feels like this is what I’ve been waiting for. Again not to bypass the pain, but it does feel like something beyond human control that’s forcing us to evaluate some of our priorities. I’m grateful for that.
How Quarantine Made Me Appreciate My Family Even More
Hong Kong, China
It was about 2 months ago when I received a notification from my school that I had to evacuate and return home. The notification came out of the blue and I was shocked. As I started packing my bags, I thought about how this might be the last time I see many of my friends here because I was supposed to graduate this semester.
The thought was extremely saddening but I knew that safety had to come first before anything, so I accepted the reality and boarded my flight from London back to Hong Kong. Little did I know, that would be the least of my worries in just a matter of days.
When I arrived in Hong Kong, I did not go home because I was afraid that had I contracted the coronavirus, I would’ve possibly infected my parents. Instead, I decided to self-quarantine in a hotel.
For the first three days, I felt completely fine and that was expected due to the extreme measures I had taken on my flight to ensure my safety. I had put on a couple of masks as well as a scarf and not once during the 12-hour flight did I take my mask off or go to the bathroom. Therefore, I was extremely surprised when I experienced headaches as well as a minor cough on the fourth day of my quarantine.
My thoughts immediately went to the coronavirus and I was terrified. Not for myself, but for my parents who had visited me at my hotel room. I knew that even if I contracted it, I would most likely survive. However, I was less sure about my parents because we had learned that it is a lot more fatal towards older people.
The next few hours were a blur. I was transferred to a hospital before being assigned to an isolation ward. Before long, it was my turn to be tested. First, I had an X-Ray and then they swabbed my saliva. However, the worst part came next.
Basically, I had a tube shoved up my nose and I ended up feeling it in the back of my throat. My eyes started watering and it was the most uncomfortable feeling I had ever experienced.
The test came back negative for coronavirus but positive for pneumonia. I couldn’t help but feel relieved even though I realized I had pneumonia. My parents were safe and that was all that mattered to me. I still had to stay in the isolation ward which was extremely boring but I was just grateful that I had not contracted the coronavirus.
Looking back, this ordeal was one of the most stressful situations I’ve had to go through in my life. However, it taught me one thing. To appreciate my family more. Just the thought that I could’ve lost them had me going crazy for hours before the diagnosis came through.
They are the most important people in my life and this ordeal has at least helped me reinforce that concept. So, in a way, I’m almost grateful it happened.
How Creating Self-Portraits Helped Me Stay Positive During Quarantine
At the start of the Covid-19 outbreak, I remember being in the middle of one of my classes, and everyone starting to freak out. I tried to stay calm but in reality, I was panicking. My main concern was how the rest of my academic career was going to play out.
After packing up my things and heading home, I started thinking to myself. Some of my passions include fashion and photography. I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to do much with either since I had to stay indoors. That’s when it hit me, I was going to start doing at home self-portraits to help my creativity flowing.
Doing this not only helped me with my creativity but also helped me stay sane and expand on my passions. Most of the supplies that I needed could be found around the house, so that was not a problem. I even found a way to incorporate my at home self-portraits into my academics.
Although being in quarantine seems everlasting and boring, I think it is important to find a way to express yourself. For me, it was photography, but for my mom it was sewing. Everyone has their own hobbies that they are passionate about, and I believe that this is the perfect time to explore them.
I try to stay positive because being negative won’t get me anywhere in life. For those struggling with quarantine, I encourage you all to find your passion.
Something that excited you and makes you want to wake up in the morning. I also advise everyone to see the light at the end of the tunnel and help out as much as you can.
How Quarantine Allowed Me To Rebuild My Difficult Relationship With My Mother
Mountain View, California
Just seven weeks ago, I was waking up to my colorful new life in Florence, Italy, where I was spending my junior year abroad. I woke up to the smell of savory cappuccinos waiting for me at my host family’s breakfast table. I went to bed listening to the nighttime chatter of my 6-year old host siblings bickering in the kitchen.
I was growing into myself, stepping away from the pervasive anxiety I felt as a college student who was eager to please everyone but myself and for the first time, finding solace in who I truly was— alone, unencumbered, and stripped away of all pretensions and facades I put up in college.
In Italy, I found solace in being alone. I found peace in being anonymous, and strength in the power to make my own decisions. In a place that was brand new and where I knew absolutely no one, I felt my most free. Each day was fresh, new, enticing— full of possibility. I didn’t feel like I had to dress a certain way or behave a certain way just to attract certain friends. I felt as though I could be fully myself.
My 12 week stay in Italy was cut in half and before I knew it, I was on a plane back to the US, and, to my dismay, slowly falling back into the same anxious habits. I fought daily with my mother, and for the first week rarely left my bedroom. I slept in as late as I could to avoid the reality of my situation— being stuck at home with a family member I constantly disagreed with.
It took a major argument between my mother and I, one which devolved into a complete breakdown of tears, guilt, and sadness, to realize that we needed to mend our difficult relationship in order to find happiness under the same roof. We took the opportunity to agree to a dual therapy session in which we would dutifully and honestly bring our own baggage to the table.
Talking through my relationship with my mother in the presence of a therapist has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. We came to conclusions about our needs and boundaries in our relationship. We figured out that, while our goals were the same, we were pursuing them in different ways.
My mother and I both craved acceptance and love from one another, but just had different ways of expressing it. We both yearned for love and acceptance despite our differences and ultimately concluded that we would work around our differences in opinion to pursue a positive relationship.
I know these quiet months in quarantine can be a great time for self-reflection and growth.
It can be a time to mend, grow, and heal from traumas of the past and to find peace to rebuild broken relationships with loved ones.
After finding peace and solace in Italy and coming back to personal wreckage in the US, I was reluctant to fall into old habits. The most stressful part of my life, my difficult relationship with my mother, was what I choose to protect and heal when I had the time to concentrate on it.
How Quarantine Transformed My Hometown Farmers Market
Pleasantville, New York
Going to my hometown farmer’s market every Saturday used to be one of the highlights of my week. My Dad, younger brother, and I would go together at around 10 am and beeline to our favorite cheese man for a pound of ‘rustic Drumm cheese’ and apple biscuits.
It’s hard to describe, but the energy at this market mixed with the smell of homemade waffles and pesto always felt like the ultimate wave of serotonin and bliss. Everything was simple at the Saturday morning farmer’s market.
When the quarantine in New York went into effect, I watched as everything I had ever known closed. My parents and stepparents traded in their suits and dress pants for pajamas, and my brother and collective five step-siblings and I contemplated upwards of 2-3 months stranded in the house together.
Two weeks later in April, the farmer’s market remarkably reopened for business. I was overjoyed and ready for some fresh air, and my brother and I eagerly set out at 10 am to get in the cheese line. When we got there, we saw that things were drastically different.
Everyone had to wear a mask, only three people could be in line at any given booth, hand washing stations had been scattered across the parking lot, families could not go into the market together and had to send in one person to shop, and the line to enter was about an hour long.
My brother went to wait in the car and I stood in line, mask and all, nervously watching the people around me. In front of me was a small, frail, older woman who seemed to be shaking nervously herself. She clutched her reusable shopping bag with urgency.
She turned to meet my gaze, and her eyes crinkled upwards above the edge of her mask, hiding her smiling mouth. I smiled back, hoping she would see the warmth through my eyes too.
‘This is pretty crazy, huh?’ She said, shaking her head and looking down at the floor. I nodded and asked her what market treasure she was waiting in this long line for. ‘Just soup and bread,’ she answered. ‘I’m worried that my favorite vendor won’t make it in this economy. She’s a single mom with four kids, and I want to buy as much from her as I can.’
My gaze softened as I watched this woman’s frail, age-speckled hands nervously clutching her bag. She could certainly be considered high-risk and probably should stay home, but had risked her health to support someone struggling.
‘If you want, I can go in and buy soup and bread from her for both of us?’ I exclaimed, gesturing to the un-moving line. ‘No use for both of us to have to wait in line, and I’d really like to help out your friend too!’ The woman pondered this, sizing me up and straining to see the tent of her favorite vendor ahead. She finally nodded and smiled, gesturing to her car that was parked just a few feet away.
After another 30 minutes, I made it into the market and went straight to the vendor the woman told me about. She, too, had kind eyes, and she thanked me with them as I bought four quarts of soup and two loaves of bread. After delivering the goodies to my friend from line, I rushed home to eat. It was arguably the best soup and bread I’ve ever had.
How I Found Peace Through Meditation During Quarantine
St. Paul, Minnesota
When I woke up in my dorm room on Tuesday, March 5, I expected to have a regular day at St. Olaf College. The outbreak of Coronavirus caused my school to extend spring break, yet we planned to finish up the week beforehand normally. I checked my phone and saw the email telling us to get off of campus as soon as possible. Don’t wait till the end of the week. Leave immediately.
I was completely thrown off. I hadn’t packed my things, I still needed to take a midterm and finish a project for my printmaking course. I had no idea if we would return to campus so I didn’t know what to pack. I got my things together quickly, throwing random clothing items and anything I thought I might want for the rest of the year in cardboard boxes.
I was heartbroken that I would be leaving my friends and my home. But I knew it was the right thing to do. This wasn’t about me. It was much bigger than this inconvenience in my life. I said goodbye to my friends, hugging them for extra long because I didn’t know the next time I would see them. I moved back home with my parents, something I didn’t expect to do anytime in the foreseeable future.
The first few weeks of quarantine were the hardest for me. The rapid change of lifestyle was shocking. I had lost my friends, my freedom, and my home in a blink of an eye.
I knew how privileged I was, but that didn’t stop the rapid deterioration of my mental health. I told myself that this time would be perfect for learning the piano, working on my novel, and making art. While I did these things sometimes, I found motivation for even the most simple tasks incredibly difficult. I felt like my life had come to a screeching halt, and my hope for the future had quickly dissipated.
Despite all this, I fell in love with my practice of yoga and meditation more deeply than I ever had before. I found peace every morning that allowed me to continue my day in a productive way. The practice gave me the ability to better control my mind and reactions. The only things that I felt I really could control.
After losing my cousin to cancer, it broke my heart to not be able to even attend her funeral because of the virus. I struggled to find closure but found peace in my meditation that has since allowed me to move forward. Life hasn’t been easy since this all happened for anyone, but I have found a type of acceptance in the condition we are all experiencing together.
5 Surprisingly Easy Ways to Actually Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions in 2022
With 2021 finally over, and many making plans for a better year, these are some easy ways to stick to your New Year’s Resolutions.
The year 2021 is finally over, and we have a new year to look forward to!
If you’re anything like the majority of the world’s population, you’ve made New Year’s resolutions in the past—and broken them within a month.
But you keep making them, because you enjoy the optimism: beginning a new year on the right foot, promising to be a better, more fit and a more skilled version of yourself.
Here are ways you can stick to your New Year’s Resolutions in 2022
Tell people about your resolution
Usually, we’re told that peer pressure is a bad thing. But in the case of a New Years’ Resolution, it might be just what you need. Positive reinforcement (encouragement and support) from your friends and family can push you to learn the guitar, lose the beer belly, or whatever it is you want to do in this new year.
Disappointment (or the fear of it) can also push you to work harder toward your goal. If the cost of failing on your resolution is a whole bunch of awkward and sad conversations, maybe that’ll keep you on the straight and narrow.
Break it down into manageable chunks
This is something essentially everybody tells you about anything, but it’s true. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step—and continues, step by step.
A New Years’ Resolution isn’t accomplished all at once, but rather gradually. Don’t push yourself too hard, and don’t get down on yourself if your goal is still a long way off.
Set realistic markers along the way, and at each one check in with yourself. That way, you’ll get a sense of accomplishment as you go, and you’ll see your progress stack up.
Care for yourself
Treat your New Year’s Resolution as what it is: a gift. When you accomplish it, not only will you get the benefit of whatever your goal is, but you’ll feel more confidence and pride in yourself.
This feeling of accomplishment is full of benefits: it makes you better poised to chase down the next opportunity, better prepared to be a positive influence in the lives of others, and can even make you live longer.
In making a New Years’ Resolution, and caring about yourself, you’re giving the best present you can give yourself, so don’t think of it as correcting something that’s wrong about you, but giving yourself another thing that’s right about you.
Forgive yourself, don’t define yourself
When a friend who’s made a mistake comes to you for help, do you immediately tell them that they’re worthless, that everybody knows it, and that they should just give up already?
No, but this treatment is something of the norm when it comes to yourself. Unfortunately, many of us treat ourselves this way; we are quick to criticize and slow to forgive.
Strangely enough, this negative self-talk often gives us permission to betray our resolutions.
If you resolve, in 2022, to cut down on carbs and one night you give in to the urge to order a bunch of pasta on Postmates, don’t beat yourself up for it the next morning.
Accept the mistake and continue working toward your goal the next day. Don’t decide you’re undisciplined, gluttonous, and have failed.
Everyone messes up a few times and forgiveness is the best way to move forward.
Use your resolution as a chance to explore new horizons
We all have ideas about who we’d like to be, and we all face the realities of who we are.
While a person who wakes up every morning at 6 a.m. and works out in order to get a clean, fresh start to the day is certainly admirable, that person might not be you. In making resolutions, pick goals that flow organically from who you are.
If you don’t know who you are (because who really does?) then go into a resolution with flexibility.
If, for example, your resolution is to get fit, don’t force yourself into a box with it. Instead, try different exercises, intensities, and intervals.
Don’t stick yourself in the gym for a 45-minute routine with weights when what you’d really enjoy doing is going to a yoga class or going for a run.
Realize that everybody is different, and rather than changing yourself into somebody new, your resolution can be a way of discovering who you might already be.
Think of it as an exploration. Let things develop, and commit to remaining open and focused.
The year, 2022 will likely be another challenging year. You already know why, so there’s no reason to repeat it here.
But remember that you got through 2021, and if your resolution for 2022 is to just survive it sane, healthy, and maybe a little wiser—that’s totally fine.
It’ll take some doing, but you’re definitely further along than you think you are.
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The Overwhelming Mental Health Impact of Climate Change
People across the globe are being affected by climate change. Global warming and climate change are having detrimental effects on the Earth such as increased flooding, hotter temperatures, wildfires, and droughts. Wildlife and ecosystems are being destroyed. Sea levels are rising. The list goes on and it can be overwhelming to take in the effects of climate change. This is why mental health is being greatly affected by climate change, particularly in teenagers and college students.
Anxiety related to the global climate and fear of environmental doom is often referred to as eco-anxiety or climate anxiety. This anxiety is a legitimate reaction to a serious problem. A large population of Generation Z is burdened by climate anxiety. This is because they are concerned about their futures considering the state of the Earth and the fatal implications of climate change.
A contributing factor to climate anxiety is the lack of action currently being taken by political leaders. Many leaders in positions of power are avoiding climate issues rather than solving them. This has prompted members of younger generations to step up and fight for change. Young activists like Greta Thunberg have taken the lead in protesting climate injustices. But watching older generations sit back while climate change is destroying the planet can lead to feelings of frustration and anger, which are common symptoms of climate anxiety.
Climate change can be a controversial topic and there is a fair amount of conflict surrounding it. Everyone reacts differently to the topic: many people shut down when climate change is brought up and they avoid the subject altogether. Others are fearful of the effects of climate change and want to help but feel powerless. And some people are eager to take action and do their part in combating climate change.
Many teenagers and college students have made efforts to reduce their carbon footprint by making lifestyle changes. Going vegan, carpooling, and shopping sustainably are some of the many ways to cut down on carbon emissions. But unfortunately, big corporations are some of the main contributors to climate change. Greenhouse gas emissions––a major contributor to climate change––are the highest they’ve ever been. This leaves young generations as they have difficulty believing that they can make a difference.
How Climate Change Affects Mental Health
Many people are mentally affected by climate change because they have been faced with natural disasters, such as wildfires, serious storms, or flooding. While everyone reacts and copes differently, many survivors of these environmental disasters have some sort of lasting psychological trauma. PTSD, anxiety, depression, and grief are some of the many mental health issues that people who have lived through natural disasters struggle with.
But you don’t need to be directly faced with a natural disaster to feel climate anxiety or despair over the state of the Earth. Just witnessing and learning about climate change is enough to cause mental health issues. There’s a sense of impending doom or existential dread that can wash over you when reflecting on climate change and its effects.
Why Climate Anxiety is Often Overlooked
Climate anxiety is often overlooked or brushed off. This is because it can be difficult to discuss mental health concerns because there are still stigmas surrounding mental health. Climate anxiety is also typically not taken as seriously as other anxieties or mental health issues. This is because many people do not understand the serious, detrimental impacts of climate change.
What to do About Climate Anxiety
- Talk to friends and family about climate change.
Listen to their thoughts on the matter and discuss your own thoughts. Talk about the negative impacts and grieve with them. It can be healing and helpful to share your concerns with others.
- Become a part of the solution!
It is important to stay informed on environmental topics and to use your knowledge for good. Join a climate justice organization at your school or in your community. Connecting with others who also care about climate change can ease your worries and fears about the Earth’s future. Climate organizations are making a difference in your community and educating others on climate change.
- Join protests.
If there are protests near you, make a sign and join in. Marching with other people who care about climate injustices is empowering. Protests help spark change by informing others and raising awareness.
- Do what you can to help the environment.
It is important to do what you can to reduce your own carbon footprint, but don’t become overly consumed with it. Eat a more plant-based diet, bike or carpool when you can, and use reusable bags. But try not to worry about how each of your actions will impact the environment. Those who experience climate anxiety often feel guilty about taking part in activities that affect the environment, like driving. Just do what you can and that will be enough.
How Social Unrest America Mirrors Social Unrest Abroad
With all of America’s recent and pressing events, it is easy to inadvertently ignore major happenings abroad. However, the COVID-19 pandemic and social unrest are not limited to American soil.
When the coronavirus began spreading across the globe earlier this year, world leaders reacted to the virus as they saw fit. Fast forward to today, and the virus continues to ravage many parts of the world, increasing the number of total cases to over 50 million people. With the addition of social unrest due to racial injustice, the world seems to have a daunting amount of crises.
Throughout this difficult time, countries imposed restrictions and limitations on their citizens in order to curb the contagion. In certain places, these limitations persist today. Subsequently, people are growing increasingly impatient as the pandemic remains as present and dangerous as it was in March. Indeed, many experts claim that the feared next wave of the virus is now in effect.
The prevailing threat and restrictions put in place have led citizens in some countries to protest. In Spain, for example, citizens have flooded city streets touting messages such as “Stop the dictatorship” or “Madrid says enough.” Unfortunately, certain rabble-rousers have taken it upon themselves to escalate these protests into less peaceful demonstrations of social unrest.
In Madrid, rioters turned unnecessarily violent, setting fires in the city, smashing windows of local shops, and assaulting police officers. These riots do not appear to be the result of spontaneous action but rather a coordinated effort planned through social media.
If the story of peaceful protests being undermined by violent extremists sounds familiar, you may be remembering the various riots that took place in America. The George Floyd protests, unfortunately, broke down into senseless social unrest, resulting in property damage and theft to numerous cities throughout America.
Just as the coronavirus pandemic is not isolated to this country, public assemblies due to racial injustice have also formed globally. As protests advocating for social justice started in American cities, foreign citizens heard the rallying cries. Demonstrations from South America to Europe, to Africa, have echoed the message of the Black Lives Matter movement, demanding justice and equality for all citizens, regardless of skin color. A spokesperson for the Belgian Network for Black Lives, Stephanie Collingwoode-Williams reflected, “people think about how it was relevant where we are.”
Although American protesters set positive trends to confront one crisis, its leaders have not been as successful in combatting the coronavirus. Out of the roughly 1.27 million deaths suffered worldwide, 239,000 of them were American.
This is by far the largest death toll of any country; in addition, America also holds the record for the most cases, by well over one million. These eye-opening statistics naturally lead to critics pointing to this nation’s shortcomings in dealing with the virus. A recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center found that throughout Donald Trump’s presidency, worldwide perceptions of America have been in decline. Recent violent outbursts from police officers, coupled with the mismanagement of the pandemic, have exacerbated this fall.