Staying Sane in Quarantine

Bored in the house and I’m in the house bored.

It’s been almost a month since we were allowed in the lab or classroom. Our classes, lab meetings and even end of semester meetings with our Dean have been online. Like many of you, we are ready for things to go back to normal, but “normal” still seems so far away. While we’ve still been busy with blog writing, classes, assignments and exams, we have more free time than normal; however, it seems like a bad time to have free time. The beaches and dog parks are closed, stress shopping at Target is frowned upon and drinks and desserts at our favorite restaurants aren’t feasible because, let’s be real, takeout just isn’t the same. So what are we doing during this time to stay sane?

I live in a small apartment downtown with my boyfriend, cat and dog, so space is definitely tight right now. I am thankful that we have a lot of windows and a small balcony that make getting daily doses of sunshine easier. Staying sane during the quarantine is no easy task. Being stuck inside all day has caused my anxiety to increase, so I’ve tried to fill my time outside of classes and virtual lab meetings with tasks that connect me to the outside world. I volunteered to be a part of MUSC’s “geek squad” for their new app (coming soon) that will allow people with mild cases of COVID-19 to be monitored from home. Moose and I play fetch in the small area in front of my apartment building often, and Jason and I play card games to give our eyes a break from screens. Sometimes Moose joins in too.

Thankfully, MUSC’s student counseling services are still happening via telephone, so I’ve been able to continue therapy appointments, which help me so much even when there isn’t a pandemic. The most impactful thing I’ve done is continuing to prepare for my day as if I was going to campus. Staying on a normal schedule has really helped me be productive throughout the past several weeks! 

Such a big change in our everyday routine has made adjusting to life in quarantine a little rough. Without the daily change of scenery that I’m used to, the days seem to blur together. It can become difficult to find motivation during a time like this, even for things that I enjoy. That feeling of not being “productive enough” is something that many people, including myself, struggle with. However, it is important to remember that it’s okay to not be productive all the time. It’s okay to give yourself time to relax and do nothing. When I am feeling motivated, something that keeps me going is being able to dedicate time towards my hobbies, such as art. I have been able to paint more than I have in years and I’ve been able to practice digital art through Science Said Simply. I’ve also had the opportunity to cook and experiment with different recipes. Things like art and cooking (for fun instead of survival) usually take a backseat to my other responsibilities, so it is really comforting to be able to spend time on them now. This pandemic has also allowed me to be home with my family, where my mom and I have been sewing masks for local hospitals. Staying busy with these activities as well as talking to friends via video calls have been great ways to stay sane in quarantine. 

As soon as MUSC sent out an email regarding essential personnel and who was/ was not allowed on campus, I hit the road and made the 5 hour drive from Charleston to Western NC, aka home. My parents live on a farm in a rural mountain town so I’ve spent most of my free time outside riding horses, hiking, vaccinating beef cattle and playing with my two border collies. While quarantining isn’t how I imagined I would be spending my spring, for me, there’s definitely been a silver lining. I’ve been home for close to a month, which is more time than I would normally get to spend at home throughout my entire PhD training (we are in school year around and don’t get summer break FYI). For now, I’m soaking in all the mountain views and puppy kisses until campus reopens and my time is once again consumed in the lab. While you’re stuck at home, I highly recommend getting outside and being active, sunshine instantly makes my days better!

Thanks for reading and check back Friday, for our CANCER introductory post! As always, feedback and comments are appreciated and don’t hesitate to let us know if you have questions regarding anything science or if you’re interested in a specific topic, we can make a post!

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