Feature by Aiva Petriceks, senior at the University of Washington.
My mental state during quarantine has been a rollercoaster to say the least. There are some days I feel like I’m in a constant panic about the state of the world. I start thinking about how long it will be until we return to any resemblance of our normal lives, and my thoughts are all downhill from there; I remember that I graduate from college in a month — not only without a commencement, but also at a time where entering the workforce isn’t exactly easy. Right as I was approaching my senior spring — the finish line — and I felt like maybe I was getting my life together, the whole world halted. Safe to say that this pandemic gives us all a lot to worry about.
Something that makes me feel extremely uneasy is to live in a constant state of uncertainty. As humans we usually crave routine; it can give us a sense of normalcy, of control. By mid-February I had my whole schedule for Spring Quarter planned — I knew exactly when I was going to be in class, at work, at my internship, or volunteering. Looking at my google calendar was satisfying, it brought me joy. I knew what my next three months were going to look like.
But alas, as quarantine went into effect all my previous plans were scrapped. I couldn’t go volunteer anymore, couldn’t participate in my sorority’s senior celebrations, or even go downtown.
Without a routine I felt myself starting to go stir crazy. Feeling constrained to your home as stagnant days seemingly stretch on can be emotionally tolling. Of course you hear people saying that you should embrace the feeling of having nothing to do. Personally, that makes me feel more anxious; as someone who likes to be busy, adapting to a slower pace of life is hard for me. I think this is an important distinction for everyone to make. We all cope with stress and situations in different ways, and especially in this pandemic, it feels like more and more you hear people telling you what the “correct” way to feel is.
As someone with experience struggling with mental health and working as a health and wellness advocate, I have been thinking a lot about how to stay mentally sane through all of this. Honestly the best thing for me has been laughter. I think I’ve laughed more in the last couple of weeks than I have in the past year. My roommates and I have found different games that bring out our competitive sides, and because of this our living space has been filled with the sounds of our laughter. From ongoing Wii tennis tournaments, month long Mario Party battles, and late night games of QuipLash, I’ve had far more fun in quarantine than I would have ever expected. So yeah, quarantine has put a wrench in the stability of my mental health, but there have been positive moments too.
The bottomline when taking care of your mental health is to prioritize doing things that make you feel like you. You shouldn’t feel like you have to listen to things you see on social media about how to correctly take care of yourself in quarantine. Find new ways to be competitive, new projects to start — maybe even doing that one task that you’ve been saying you would do forever. Schedule these things into your day. Find a new routine.