Not a single person on Earth has the answer to that question. My immunology professor said we won’t be out before the summer, dear ole’ aunt Nelly has sent numerous broadcast messages stating that if we light the Sabbath candles, read 2 psalms and sacrifice a lamb the COVID-19 crisis will be over in two weeks, and my Twitter feed has guesses that go from 1 month to never.
At one point I asked myself: can I just fast forward? And then I had a realization: I always want to either fast forward or go back to “better” times, but I’m never able to truly enjoy what’s going on in the present, and the COVID-19 apocalypse is the perfect example.
Every day for the past 7 months, I’ve had to wake up at 7 a.m. and tread through rain or snow to sit in class and study at the library for endless hours. Every day as soon as my alarm went off I prayed for a stomach flu, a blizzard, or some sort of a state-wide power outage––anything that would give me a valid reason to stay in bed. I literally dreamed of being able to stay home, do nothing and binge-watch Netflix while eating a pint of ice cream without feeling judged. Yet somehow, now that that's exactly what I’m being told to do I can’t wait for it to be over so I go back to school. So what’s wrong? Am I going crazy?
The only thing wrong with me, and everyone else who is feeling this way, is that we have way too much room in our heads and not many truly important things to think about (at least not all the time). Not that making paying bills and staying healthy are not important, and worth thinking about, but we don't need to hunt or fight for our next meal, which is what our brain structure is prepared to do. We are not always alert and focused on the present because we no longer need that to survive, which makes too easy it to use our brains instead to overthink.
It sounds counterintuitive but it makes sense. And now that we have all this time on our hands and not a lot to do, it makes sense that we would constantly think of memories or hypothetical situations because let’s face it, that’s just more entertaining. Here’s the thing though: I know that what’s going on right now is worrying, frustrating and honestly very boring, but if 2 months ago you had told me that I would be studying from home, wearing nothing but comfy clothes while watching rom-coms in the background, I would’ve been ecstatic. So, can we learn how to stay present so we can enjoy and make the best of situation?
Learning how to stay present is not a simple task, it takes a lot of practice and a lot of willpower, but it’s probably worth it. So, where do we start? I’ve done some research!
Meditate. As often as you can. Find a comfortable spot, lay down, relax. Check out The Honest Guys’ guided meditations on YouTube if you need a good place to start. They have all kinds of guided meditations!
Stay active, both body and mind. Cook, draw, exercise, read a book, clean your bathroom, organize your closet... There are countless things you can do at home to keep your mind busy.
Try out some grounding techniques. They really help, you can try out some physical, mental or soothing techniques. Pick your poison.
Keep a journal. I was personally not a huge fan of this one, I dreaded the thought of having to sit down and write until I realized that there are no rules to journaling. You can just write about whatever goes through your head, whenever you want to. You can do it on a piece of paper, your computer, phone or any other surface you can write or type on. Who cares? Nobody’s gonna read it! The world page is yours.
So what’s the verdict? What’s going on in the world right now sucks, it really does, but it might be the perfect opportunity to learn how to stay centered and positive. It won’t happen overnight, but it’s a worthy investment because, let’s face it: we don’t know when this will end, and even after it does, we’re young and odds are this pandemic won’t be the last shitty thing we experience in our lifetimes. Having the ability to stay grounded will always come in handy, and we’ve got plenty of time now to get good at it.
So friends: get caught up on your sleep, binge watch a show while cuddling with your dog, color-code your T-shirts, books, and pens, try making your grandma’s world-famous cookies and enjoy the things you get to do now.
No matter what, make sure to stay inside your home, and outside of your head.