Small things that can make isolation easier

This week marks the sixth week that I have been in isolation, as my family decided to self-impose a quarantine several days before Governor Pritzker and Mayor Lightfoot imposed the stay-at-home order. Every day is a new challenge. How do I adapt to such a radically different lifestyle than the routine I had been so accustomed to? How do I stay motivated to finish the school year while ignoring all the distractions around it? As a high school senior it took a few days to realize that this would be the way I would spend the remainder of my senior year, and I was beyond disappointed. Despite my anger, I recognized that there was no use in letting my sadness get the better of me, and I made a few changes to my routine that have helped me tremendously as the weeks go on.

The first thing I did was create a routine. The routine I had built in high school allowed me enough time for my schoolwork, my athletic commitments as well as my social life, which I was very satisfied with and took pride in. However, in our current circumstances two of those three factors have been removed, which completely changed my routine. Despite the surplus of free time I found myself with, I still challenged myself to set a certain amount of time to get all of my schoolwork done before moving on to the other activities I wanted to get done. The process of setting a time and sticking to it has made a world of difference with my productivity as I can work with much more focus and confidence when I’m not burdened by anything else going on at that moment.

As anyone who has talked to me in the past few weeks can attest to, I was incredibly sad when my senior year of baseball was canceled in the wake of the stay-at-home order. I felt helpless and was frustrated that all the time I had put into improving my game would never pay dividends. However, I also found myself with almost 3-4 hours of time every day where I would usually be at practice or playing games that was now empty. I decided to try and use this time to get a little bit of physical exercise every day, whether that’s thirty minutes, an hour, or even two hours. By pushing yourself to work out and work on yourself, you are creating good habits in your everyday life that will be a necessity when the time comes to go live on your own. Depending on the exercises you have the opportunity to do, it can be an outlet for any stress or anger that you may have as a result of isolation. Whenever I do play sports again, it will be comforting to know that I used my time away from the game to improve myself in ways I hadn’t been able to before. A little bit of exercise every day goes a long way towards a healthy lifestyle after high school.

When trying to develop my new routine, there was one aspect of my life that I knew would be difficult to replace, and that is the social side of high school. As a senior this has been especially difficult, as trying to make the most of my last months with my high school friends has been made almost impossible by the isolation we have all been put under. This period has been challenging for everyone, but what has made it slightly easier has been attempting to reach out to someone every day. Whether that’s your best friend or someone you haven’t talked to in years, the sentiment that you took the time to reach out will be a bright spot in these often dark days. The convenience of social media makes this an easy task and, in some cases, the most rewarding.

Nothing about this period is normal. These few months will be talked about and discussed in history classes decades after the stay-at-home order is lifted. Nothing is for sure, but it can be asserted that life as we know it will be altered in a way. The small things we do with our day can either tear us down or build us up. The small steps that we can undertake on a day-to-day basis can allow us to better our home lives in small ways so that we can also better our social and working lives when it is time to return. The one thing that is of paramount importance is that we continue to stay positive and stay resolute so that we can bounce back from this struggle and come out of it in a positive manner.

Jack Mueller