Focusing on the small things during the COVID-19 pandemic


Norah Austin, Photography Editor

The experience of being quarantined is one that is virtually unfamiliar to all of us, and certainly one that comes with its own set of unique experiences. Each person experiences social and physical isolation differently, creating a wide range of reactions, experiences and happenings during this period of time. This time has created a unique opportunity to study human behavior and to examine all of the nuance that this subsequently places on our economy and society. I am here to detail my experience during our mandatory social distancing and shelter-and-place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as to belay things that I have been doing to make my life a little less boring and little more meaningful during this period of uncertainty.

Each day seems to begin the same; I wake up around nine AM, eat breakfast while reading my book, (so far, I’ve read Every Last One by Anna Quindlen, Wild by Cheryl Strayed and am about ¼ through Endurance: My year in space, a lifetime of discovery by Scott Kelly) begin homework around eleven-thirty AM, which continues throughout the day, with intermittent breaks for spending time with my family, walking my dog, going outside, doing art and watching Netflix. 

This day-in, day-out monotony seems to toil on endlessly, as though it is a long-burning wildfire that refuses to be put out. As awful as this may seem, I have had a much different experience with this than I had previously expected. It would make sense that one would be absolutely bored out of their minds by this routine, but I have found that this quiet certainty and simplicity has brought a rejuvenating balance into my life. 

Allowing myself to focus on the small things in my life has helped me to reflect upon what I value, as well as what I am currently doing to take care of myself. What we are all living through right now is historic and unprecedented, as well as trying, burdensome and merciless. Taking time to go outside and take a walk, spending time with loved ones and taking a nap, among many other things will help to alleviate the immense stress and uncertainty we are living with right now.

Take a vacation to a quiet space to get away from familial stress, take a walk by yourself that clears your head. Listen to your mind, body and heart. Do something that benefits yourself and others around you. Most importantly, try to make some good out of a bad situation.

This is not to say that doing the aforementioned will make all of the hardship go away, because it won’t. That’s not reality, nor is it life. However, being grateful for all of the things we do have is extremely important.

Each day, I remind myself that I have a loving family, an energetic 10-month old puppy and other people of whom I care about dearly. Waking up each day and doing roughly the same things at the same time does not mean that your life sucks and is boring. I was afraid of this myself. What are we to do if we lose all sense of normalcy with the snap of a finger? How are we to survive?

Take each day to do something small that honors yourself, your fortitude, your value. In the past few weeks since school has been out, I have taken up walking every day with my dog and my family. Additionally, I have taken time to reach out to those I love, to attend to the important relationships in my life. 

Don’t overwhelm yourself with the big picture. As someone who struggles with anxiety and depression, I know how extremely hard it is to focus on small and seemingly insignificant things, but it is so worth it. I have found it helpful to maintain a sort of routine each day, of which includes small things that give me pleasure and remind me why I continue to exist on this earth. I suggest instilling this into your life as much as you possibly can, but to each their own. 

Remember that you are loved, that you matter, and that this world needs you. Stay strong out there! We’re all in this together, and we will make it through, no matter the circumstances.