Hi! My name is Natalie Cutter and I am a rising sophomore at Wake Forest University. Writing, blogging, and journalism has always been a passion for me, but I have never quite figured out how I could get my voice out there, not just for others to hear me, but a way for me to externalize my voice.
What does the word "quarantine" mean to you? I presume this word is a trigger word for most, associated with immense negativity and anxiety. This is understandable considering that when the world was instructed to quarantine in their own homes, refrain from social interaction, and put the entirety of their lives on hold, everybody was at a loss for how to continue on with this day to day thing that we call life. The uncertainty of waking up each day and having no idea what each day would consist of was a foreign feeling for all. Many people adjusted to a bland routine of working or taking classes via zoom, spending way too much time with family, and missing the excitement that the spontaneity of life provides us. Everybody was forced to adjust to a less than ideal lifestyle in their homes.
I am someone that feeds off of exercise, social interaction, and keeping myself busy by being up and about, so the thought of being stuck in a sedentary routine in my own home for months, without my friends and places to go was pretty traumatizing. I think we can all agree that the world basically entered a state of depression, but I don't want to talk about that. I am here to share what I was able to make of quarantine , and how I have framed my mindset to remove the negative connotation that was associated with this word. Just because quarantine meant that normal life could no longer continue, it didn't mean that life couldn't feel somewhat normal. Rather than allowing quarantine to control me, I forged a routine into my life that allowed me to still feel productive, active, fit, healthy, and happy.
The first major change I made was forcing myself to set an alarm in the morning. While it was a luxury at first to be able to sleep in every single day, I began to abuse this by "sleeping the day away," to make each day as short as possible, which just reinforced these feelings of hopelessness and depression that quarantine aroused. The longer I allowed myself to want the days to pass as quickly as possible, the more miserable and lonely I felt. Once I implemented this change of setting my alarm on the weekdays and forcing myself to get up and start my day, I realized that there were things I could do to keep busy, be active, productive, and actually enjoy myself.
One of the biggest challenges of quarantine was the transition to online school. In the beginning, it was pretty much a disaster; it was disorganized, confusing, and very stressful. I felt like I was either constantly turning in my work late or deadlines were creeping up on me in which I was pressured to get things done as quickly as possible. The quality of my work was dwindling as I found myself settling to just be "good enough." The stress of feeling constantly disorganized and have school monopolizing my life was exhausting, so I made necessary changes to so that I could feel like I was in charge of my life once again. Every Sunday, I went through my emails and thoroughly read emails from professors, checked the weekly schedules for all of my classes, and mapped out a to do list for that upcoming week. I found that even on weeks where the quantity of work was overwhelming, I was not finding myself scrambling to get things done because I had taken the time to prepare and organize how I was going to get everything done.
I think most people can agree that some form of exercise or activity are necessary on a day to day basis. Working out is not only a passion of mine, it is something that is essential to my wellbeing. I have always been someone that is reliant on a gym to workout, so when I lost that resource, I didn't know what to do with myself. I was so against at-home workouts, I thought they were stupid and ineffective and I had no interest in trying them. The months of March and April were gloomy and rainy, so I wasn't getting outdoors much either. For the first couple weeks of quarantine, I pretty much gave up on working out, which reinforced the depression of quarantine because I wasn't allowing my body to release the endorphins it was so used to. When I realized that not working out was making me feel even worse, I had no choice but to try something. I opened my eyes up to many different resources online, whether that be YouTube, instagram fitness accounts, peloton classes, local fitness companies, or just doing my own thing. Not everything is going to work for everyone, but I realized there were definitely still ways for me to enjoy working out, even if it wasn't in a gym. Some of my favorites are the peloton strength and spin classes (Kendall Toole and Ben Allidis are my favorites), B/SPOKE studios Train X classes, Pamela Reif and Sami Clarke HIIT and abs (youtube), and other things I was able to create on my own.
The most crucial thing that I did for myself is that I focused on myself and just being me. I started by making an extra effort to stay in touch with my support circle of people, and part of that was adjusting who that support circle consisted of. I recognized that after a year of college many people change, and I needed to only surround myself with people that encouraged me to be the best version of myself. I opened up to these people about everything that I was feeling, the good, the bad and everything in between, and it felt really good to let these people in, rather than keeping everything bottled up inside. I invested time into figuring out what my priorities were, what kinds of things made me happy from the inside out, and how I could set myself up for success. I began journaling as a way to rant and let go of things that were holding me back, whether that be people, the uncertainty of quarantine, or just being tangled up in my own thoughts.
Reflecting back on quarantine now, I learned the vital importance of the word routine, a necessary way of life that allowed me to function, be successful, limit stress, and feel happy. Not everyone will have the same routine, but everyone needs some type of structure in their lives. Ask yourself, "what fuels your success?" and "how can you be the best version of yourself?" I can say now that I am actually really grateful for quarantine because it forced me to turn my gaze inward, learn how to adjust on the spot to major lifestyle changes, and prioritize the things in life that are most meaningful to me. Today, I decided that in order to be the best version of myself, I needed to share my story. At the very least, if I can feel better tomorrow knowing I put myself out there today, and maybe had an impact on one individual, then I have one more thing to be grateful for.
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