By Heather Nelson
It’s been two months since Covid-19 upended our lives. It stole March Madness from us. It postponed baseball season. And it nearly robbed Liverpool’s league title.
For some, it ended the school year. Or created unemployment. Or added to a list of mental health issues.
I won’t lie — this time has created extra anxiety in my life that I didn’t need. I’ve been struggling to grapple with the uncertainty of these times. I like being in control. This time of “quarantine” has tested my resilience to change.
And in ways, my life has somewhat stayed the same. I work everyday, meal prep, exercise, binge Netflix. Life has adjusted itself to fit within this “quarantine.”
It’s no secret that this time has tested patience, resiliency, our dreams….
In an effort to create normalcy, I made it a priority to fill my time with activities of importance. I joined in on the “Next 90 Days” hosted by Rachel and Dave Hollis. It’s a challenge very similar to their end of the year challenge, which asserts the importance of making positive change to your life. Each week has included a different theme, which requires you to assess areas of your life. I owe my motivation to The Hollis Co. (I plan to share my experience with this soon!) In short, I’ve taken ownership of this time and how I’ll let it affect me — I positive ways.
The last 72 days I’ve decided to prioritize the important things. Here’s how I’ve kept busy during “quarantine.”
I made it a goal back in January to read at least two books a month. I’m a huge fan of Binge Mode, — a Ringer podcast series by Jason Concepcion and Mallory Rubin — which deeeeep dives into titles like Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, and Star Wars. I joined a Facebook group run by fans of Binge Mode, who started a book club. Each month, the group picks a novel (or comic series) to read. So far, they haven’t let me down. I’ve also referenced Reese Witherspoon’s book club to make picks. Basically, my reading list grew at an alarming rate.
Reading brings me joy. It provides a form of escape, which has been especially handy during this time. It’s also how I connect with my granny’s spirit since she passed in February. The two of us bonded over our love for curling up with a good book. I feel comforted knowing that she’d be proud of me. I’m well on my way to finish 50 books by the end of the year; I’ve completed 22 books as of May 26.
A few years ago, I decided to expel anxious energy through exercise. I’ve used various forms of exercise to surrender my anxiety, but weight lifting has become my favorite. When the country started to shut down as Covid-19 worsened, I made the hard decision to stay out of the gym. I transitioned to working out at home, which was extremely difficult. It was easy for me to talk myself out of a workout.
I organized my at-home gym. I found new ways to motivate myself. The workout program I follow graciously accommodated to those staying home, too. Progress wasn’t measured by adding weight to the barbell anymore. It became important to set aside time to earn those post-workout endorphins. I challenged myself to focus on form, to prepare my body for its eventual return to the gym. It’s provided a great release and subsided my depression some days.
Meal prepping became my favorite end-of-the-week activity. I feel at ease after spending a couple of hours preparing meals for the week. It creates extra time each evening for me to relax and spend time with my fiancé. Instead of eating out because of convenience, I find that planning ahead provides that piece of mind for us.
A few weeks ago, we decided to give up fast food for a month. At times, when we felt underprepared, it seemed easier to enter the drive-thru. Instead, we’ve used this time to honor our cravings while also preparing those meals at home. Cooking together has become one of the ways that my fiancé and I spend time together.
4. Spending time with Brandon
Before “quarantine” started Brandon attended class two times a week, and I was working a few nights a week as a hostess. On average, we’d spend one or two evenings together during the work week. We were wishing for time to slow down — it seems we got just that. We’ve been most thankful for this extra time together, even if it hasn’t been ideal.
Brandon and I have spent extra time together taking our dog for walks, cooking, playing video games (Animal Crossing) together, movie nights, and venturing out for (parking lot) ice cream dates. Sure, it’s been stressful trying to prepare for a fall wedding during Covid-19 times. It’s also been a blessing to enjoy each other’s presence (or annoy each other). We’ve completed our binge of Mr. Robot and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia; we’ve moved on to Lost and 30 Rock.
Life outside of “quarantine” won’t be the same. We’ll come out of this as different people, shaped by these new, challenging experiences. This time will prepare us for the hardships (or blessings) to come. It’s important how we spend our time now, as it sets the tone for who we’ll be on the other side. Instead of focusing on the “what ifs” consider focusing on the “what now.” What can you do now to shape your future self?