The COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic has put a lot of strain on everyone. The pandemic has affected me in a lot of ways, mostly my productivity, motivation and my mental and physical health. However, during this time I have learned more about myself and my habits than I have in a very long time. In spite of the trouble these past few weeks have caused me, I have found some solutions that have made my life easier.
Being productive each day
The first thing that left me when we got off school was my productivity. I lost all motivation to do any schoolwork and spent most of my day in bed. I could hardly find the willpower to get up before noon. This took a while to change and it was hard to see the point in getting up to do schoolwork when you could just pretend your internet was down! After a few days of not doing work, it was beginning to pile up and was becoming more daunting.
To start to change my bad habit I first had to figure out what I need to do in order to motivate myself. After a bit of thinking, I figured that I would eventually have to face some sort of assessment and I wanted to do well. I want to get into a college course I will enjoy. This was a big stride in motivating me to be productive and do my school work. After this, I decided I needed to prioritise my schoolwork and break it into smaller sections so it wouldn’t feel as daunting.
I have discovered that rest is key for me to have a fun and productive day so finding a good balance between work and play was very important to me. I decided to work early in the day as I am most focused, calm, and I can get most of my work done. I always put my phone on silent so as not to distract me, but I also make sure I take a break from schoolwork every 45 minutes as I find I start to lose focus after that.
Dealing with loneliness
Although we may live with our family or in the company of other people this can still feel like a lonely time and maybe even an unsafe time. I feel this is a very important time for us to look after ourselves. The most important way to do this for me was to reach out to my friends and keep in touch with them, calling sometimes daily to check up on them. I use my usual apps like Snapchat and Instagram to keep in touch, as well as Zoom, Google Duo and Hangouts.
For many reasons, some people may feel like they can’t reach out to friends. Thankfully there are many amazing people that are on hand to chat with when we are feeling lonely, sad or anxious during this time. People working with SpunOut.ie, Jigsaw, Samaritans and Childline are all there to talk.
Exercise, sleep and healthy food
Apart from feeling lonely this time can also bring days where I just feel shit and I have found that exercise, sleep and a good diet has dramatically improved this. Anytime I heard that trio of suggestions I felt they were cliché and wouldn’t actually help, but they do! Recently I have decided to structure my days very rigidly. In this schedule, I include my meal and exercise plan for the day as well as periods to relax and watch TV and most importantly, time in the evenings to wind down so I can have a good night’s sleep. Each day I plan time to have a walk and a cycle, within 2km of my house to stick to HSE guidelines! The extra bit of exercise along with eating healthier has greatly increased my mood, my energy and my productivity each day. While this approach definitely does not suit everyone, I would suggest to anyone, give it a go!
Focusing on the positives
To help me from feeling too worried or anxious, I try to see the bright side to this situation and to keep an optimistic view of the future. For me, one of the positive aspects of this situation is the extra free time I have! This is an opportunity to learn new skills, adopt new hobbies and even a time to work on self-improvement! During my free time, I have done small but exciting things such as rearranging my room, working on my writing skills and working on projects with my local Comhairle Na nÓg. I have also used some of my newfound time to learn new delicious recipes for my dinner and have improved my cooking. Since I value my rest and relaxation a great deal, I always set aside time every evening to watch a new movie and I have begun many new series on Netflix and Disney+.
The pandemic likely won’t end tomorrow, so it is really important that we adapt our lifestyles to this new environment so we do not lose track of our schoolwork nor ourselves. Finding a balance that suits you and a structure that allows you to be productive and have fun makes this time a lot easier to deal with. If you were to walk away from this with anything, make time in your day to do the things you enjoy, stay in contact with your friends and explore different ways that you work best.