Life has certainly taken an unexpected turn in these past few weeks.
I’m now at home, taking online classes via Zoom and spending an embarrassing amount of time looking at memes on Facebook. We’re all social distancing and doing our best to acclimate to this new way of life, and while it definitely isn’t ideal, I’ve been taking extra measures for self-care and trying to take advantage of the good things coming out of this time. Here’s what I’ve been doing.
1. Exercising (even a little!!!) With no gym to go to and the weather being bad where I am, there’s not much of a chance to get a great workout in, but for my own sanity and health, I need to get some form of physical activity in every day. Exercise boosts the immune system, challenges us to become more aware of our bodies, and gives us very, very much-needed endorphins! I discovered a yoga app called Down Dog (and it’s doing free memberships for students until July 1!!!) and have been enjoying challenging myself with new strength-building poses.
2. Journaling/meditation. It sounds cliché, but having an outlet to clear your mind is so necessary. Even though I’m trying to practice gratitude, I still experience an extreme range of emotions every day, and journaling and meditation has helped me process my thoughts so that I don’t explode into a mess of tears and hysterical laughter (ha…). I’ve used Headspace for the past two years—some schools, including Juilliard, offer free membership, but the app also offers $10 annual student memberships. I also have used Insight Timer in the past, which is completely free and which I also recommend. Right now, I’m testing out a new app called Prompted Journal, which offers a different recurring writing prompt each day and lets you look back on previous responses to each prompt to see how much you’ve changed. I’m not sure whether I’ll keep it or not because I prefer writing on paper than on my phone, but I love the pink background. It’s the little things.
3. Taking time for hobbies. Even though I have a different set of responsibilities at home versus at school, I’ve been using the little extra time I get not commuting on the subway to work on my vlogs! I like to record bits of my life to look back on and compile them into fun video collages, which challenges me creatively and reminds me of the good times I’ve had in New York. I’m also rereading my way through the Harry Potter series for the first time in years, and I am amazed by how my perspective has changed since the last time I read it! Many of my friends and colleagues have been using their newfound work-from-home lifestyles to bake bread, watch movies, clean their homes, call up old friends, learn to knit, etc.
4. Stay connected. It’s easy to hermit away and process my own emotions without acknowledging that every single person in the world is going through the same thing right now. It’s also easy to spiral down a rabbit hole after reading one too many articles on current events. Finding a healthy balance between staying close to the people who matter most and keeping emotions in check is so, so important these days. Social media is a great way to keep connected in a variety of ways. Many orchestras are doing ”virtual performances“ with each musician recording a video of them playing their own part from home and editing all the clips together. I can play chamber music by myself and with friends thousands of miles away using (free!) apps like Acapella. And when I don’t feel like practicing, which these days truthfully is more often than not, I share Zoom memes or Netflix Party (a free app for Google Chrome that lets you watch the same Netflix show and chat at the same time!) with friends.
It really hurts to think that my senior year has been cut short and that I won’t be having the [commencement ceremony I’d envisioned], but if you’re reading this, you are probably in exactly the same situation! It’s so important that we all continue to stay in contact and support each other through these difficult times. While this new way of life isn’t ideal, it has helped us slow down and do more things for ourselves. It’s hard to think of the good that might be coming out of this, but it is there-—more quality time with ourselves and loved ones, a chance to slow down and be in the present moment, the opportunity to finally catch up on laundry or closet-cleaning—whatever it is, we’ll look back on this time having learned and grown through a shared difficult time with strength and wisdom. Until then, please, stay at home and wash your hands!!!