As we begin the second half of 2020, it is evident that we will continue to face many obstacles surrounding Covid-19. It is tough to comprehend how much has changed since early March and how different our day-to-day lives are now, compared to then. While the virus has impacted almost everyone in the world, it has been especially difficult for teenagers and young adults who are still in school and/or entering the workforce. As recent graduates from Virginia Tech and the University of Georgia, we have experienced the effects of Covid-19 firsthand through finishing our senior year online, in quarantine, and without any guidance as the world has not seen a pandemic this large in over a century. The uncertainty surrounding these trying times may leave you feeling stressed or powerless, but we wanted to share some of our experiences and discuss different strategies we used for fighting back against Covid-19 (in addition to wearing a mask!).
One of the main issues surrounding Covid-19 was the idea of quarantining. Before the pandemic, we envisioned quarantine as you see it on TV (e.g. hazmat suits, medical tents, radiation). While quarantining for most of us has been nowhere near that extreme, it still managed to effectively cut us off from all social interaction (or so we thought). At the beginning of the pandemic, it seemed like our social lives had been put on hold indefinitely and what should have been our graduation, post-grad trips, and last hurrahs with close friends quickly dissolved away. At first, the thought of missing out on all these memorable life experiences was dispiriting. However, we came to realize that while we could not control the impact Covid-19 had on our lives, we could control our attitude about it.
Embracing and employing a positive attitude is a proven strategy to help relieve any stress stemming from life’s hurdles. For example, new social distancing laws prevented us from going to our favorite venues and restaurants. How did we respond? By maintaining an optimistic attitude and using that to think outside of the box! Our favorite pizza place closed down? We learned how to make homemade pizza as a group. Our favorite brewery closed down? We started doing socially distanced bonfires where we brought our own speakers, food, etc. By the time senior year had come to an end, we had already fully adapted to social distancing and were having the time of our lives all because we maintained a positive attitude. It is important to remember that what you give power to, has power over you.
Through our experiences, we have both found different approaches to living fulfilling lives even amidst this pandemic. The next time you feel stressed, powerless, or frustrated with the situation at hand, try employing these strategies from your mental arsenal:
- Maintain a positive and optimistic attitude about the future. The less clogged your mind is with negative thoughts, the more freedom you will have to think outside the box and find new solutions to your problems
- Try switching up your daily routine! We often get fixated on our day-to-day routine and start to feel stuck. This can reduce your sense of fulfillment and take a toll on your quality of life. If you eat the same meal for breakfast every day, try switching it up! If you always workout at night, try waking up in the morning and see how it feels! Changing your regular behavior exposes you to a new set of triggers and prevents you from feeling “stuck in the cycle”.
- Build and strengthen your relationships. Even though we are in the midst of physical distancing, the opportunity to reach out to others is more abundant than ever before. Technology is on your side during this pandemic, so why not take five minutes a day to send a loved one a thoughtful message!
- Gratitude. Push yourself to designate time each day to think about several things you are thankful for. It may even be worth taking note of them to remind yourself of your daily blessings.
- Walk outside. The morning and evening are calling your name to get fresh air.
- Know that you are not alone! You are living through a difficult, trying, and isolating time. It is important to utilize the power of connection and further remind yourself that your emotions are not only valid but shared.
While some of these strategies may or may not work for you, we believe that they will be useful not only during this pandemic, but for the rest of your life. Know that changing your mental outlook will not happen with the flip of a switch. There will be good and bad days, but remember this is a marathon, not a sprint. Focus and enjoy the journey, and the results will come.
We wish you all the best for your upcoming school years, new jobs, and any other goals you may be working towards and cheers to a brighter future!
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