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Photo of woman in quarantine looking out a window

Hobbies and learning new skills are great, but make sure that you reconnect with yourself during this time.

As we trudge through our second month of quarantine with no definitive end in sight, the COVID-19 global pandemic remains at large. The shutdown has generated a national boredom that has spread across the United States, making it easy to justify Netflix and Easter candy gluttony.

Despite the bleak societal and economic horizons that face us, we can interpret this shutdown as an invitation to positive change. Instead of falling victim to our lazy habits, we should use this extra time to reevaluate our priorities and explore new interests. Here are 3 ways to make the most out of quarantine.

1. Get Healthy

During this time of uncertainty, improve upon your immune health by delegating your free time to staying healthy. Everyone’s physical health can be improved with consistent exercise, but with all the gyms closed down, many people are struggling to find the motivation to work out. It’s hard to realize the benefits of living a healthier life with our world put on hold, but if we set clear goals for our health, it will become much easier to engage in these practices regularly.

Cardio is essential for your immune system’s well-being, but running isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. For those who find it dreadful, walking or riding your bike are perfect lower-intensity substitutes. A study published in BMC Public Health, Daily step count and all-cause mortality in a sample of Japanese elderly people: a cohort study,” examined the relationship between daily step count and mortality in Japanese elders, and found that a higher daily step count “is associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality.”

This study also compared the differences between people whose steps were from running, and those from walking, and found no correlation between high intensity cardio and higher mortality. This suggests that the intensity of the workout doesn’t make much of a difference in our long-term health and that walking is likely to be just as good for you as running.

Ab work, body weight exercises and yoga can be done from home and produce noticeable results as well. A wholesome diet is another important aspect of maintaining a healthy immune system. When you get hungry, consider eating foods rich in vitamins C, B6 and E, like citrus fruits, spinach, fish and nuts. These superfoods will help build your immune defense against the virus.   

2. Find Your Balance

Taking good care of your physical health is imperative in these times, but maintaining a healthy mind is equally important. Exercising and eating right influence mental health, but there are many more factors. To combat the severe cabin fever and ease the anxiety you may be feeling right now, evaluate what gives balance to your life.

Even people in perfect physical shape will struggle with anxiety and self-doubt if they fail to allocate their time toward pursuing what brings them happiness. To help keep your mind in good shape, find the right balance between relaxation and productivity that suits your personality and interests.

If you are an outdoorsman like me, use this time to connect with nature by hiking, fishing or gardening. My family and I planted a garden a few weeks ago and soon we will have fresh eggplant, kale, tomatoes and broccoli. Starting a garden is cheap, can be done in a small backyard and provides you with fresh produce to cook with. Cooking is another activity that’s fun, healthier than eating out and stimulating to your palate and mind.

Despite the incentive to spend this quarantine on your couch, it is important to express yourself in these times of pent up isolation with creative hobbies. Whether you enjoy writing, painting, poetry or music, the arts help us navigate our imagination in valuable ways and provide us an outlet for our quarantine blues.

3. Reevaluate Your Priorities

If you are a college kid, you are most likely spending this quarantine back at your parents’ house. Although being away from your college friends and back living under your parents’ roof can seem like a punishment, I urge you to think of it as a prompting. This virus put the fragility of our lives into perspective, highlighting the things in our lives that truly matter. Interpret this time at home as an opportunity to improve upon the relationships that hold value in your life.

It can become easy to forget about serving others when you are isolated from the rest of the world. If you are not a health care professional, you may think there is not much you can do in these times, but you can make a noticeable difference by slowing the spread of the virus and helping those suffering from the negative economic impacts of this shutdown.

To help combat the pandemic and prevent more from falling ill, follow the mandates for social distancing, build up your immune system, wear a mask in public spaces and wash your hands frequently. These practices, when done by an individual, can seem insignificant, but when done by a community, they can make an enormous impact. 

It is more important than ever during this time to devote yourself toward helping your community. We still don’t know what the economic impacts of this shutdown will be, but so far it doesn’t look good. If you to want to make a difference in your community during shutdown, support local businesses and donate to those in need. If you’re a victim of this economic downfall, and have little money to spend on others, you can always find other ways to serve that don’t require a monetary investment. 

When this quarantine is over, there will be many struggles to face. If you face them alone, they will seem insurmountable, but if you face them as a community, societal and economic rebirth can become attainable. Ironically, as we wait longer in anticipatory hazy uncertainty, our perception of what truly matters in our lives has become clearer.

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