The pandemic quarantine was a challenging time for many of us, but it has also provided valuable lessons about mental health, productivity, and making excuses for lack of time.
I knew someone who said he would always write a book. During the pandemic, he ended up having a lot more free time since he got a few weeks of paid time off and then less responsibilities when he got back to work. I brought up that book, and he still never started it.
Sometimes, we have excuses for why we will or won’t do something. When those excuses gets killed, the real reason lurks. In this case, I figure maybe he didn’t enjoy the process or actual work of writing or planning a book.
One of the most important lessons during that time is that taking care of our mental health. The isolation and stress of the pandemic can hurt toll our mental health, but it has also highlighted the importance of self-care and self-compassion. Studies have shown that regular exercise, mindfulness practices, and social connection can all improve mental health and well-being.
That social isolation was something I struggled with before the pandemic. Once you become an adult and you’re out of college, there aren’t as many built-in ways of socializing. It’s a complaint I hear from a lot of young graduates as well. You have to take initiative, plan out your free time, and find social groups that work for you, which isn’t as simple of a feat as you think. At least not for me, maybe if you’re popular, attractive, or lucky. I’ve gotten pretty decent at this with trial and error, but I’m no expert.
The quarantine has also reminded us of the importance of productivity. With many of us working from home, it can be easy to fall into the trap of procrastination and distraction. But the reality is that we all have the same 24 hours in a day, and it’s up to us to use that time effectively. Research has shown that setting clear goals, breaking tasks down into smaller steps, and using time management techniques can all help us to be more productive.
Stop using “I don’t have time” as an excuse. Plenty of people had more time than they knew what to do with during the quarantine and squandered it.
The quarantine has shown us that making excuses for lack of time is often just that – excuses. We all have the same amount of time, and it’s up to us to use it wisely. Whether it’s working on a personal project, learning a new skill, or spending time with loved ones, we all have the ability to make the most of the time we have.
What surprised me during this time was that I found an equilibrium. There were moments in the first few months of being an adult and of the pandemic where I was freaking out, wondering if I could survive with so little human contact. Looking back, I somehow found a state of content over time. I found ways to interact with people virtually or on the phone when I needed it. And then, I was pretty happy working from home, exercising at home, going on my own little walks, cooking, and watching TV. I did that for many, many months. It wasn’t spectacular, but I wasn’t unhappy either.
I think the one distinction you want to watch out for is I took initiative. I could’ve easily wallowed in despair and done nothing, and that would’ve possibly made things worse, but I tried to find ways of checking in or reaching out to people I knew. I can only imagine how extroverts suffered during this time, though I haven’t found much discussion online about it. Let me know your experiences in the comments.
I feel like I still need to keep improving that skill and knowing to reach out before I need it. While another quarantine won’t be likely in the near future, it’s important to be able to generate social interactions, connections, a community, or more when you need it for a healthy mind. I try to start small by going to a hobby or activity that is also social. Lately, I tried boxing, which is fun, but usually most fitness classes aren’t as social as you think – it’s mostly just listening to the instructor. So, what I have found works decent is running clubs.
In conclusion, the pandemic quarantine has been a challenging time, but it has also provided valuable lessons about mental health, productivity, and making excuses for lack of time. By taking care of our mental health, being productive and making the most of our time, we can come out of this experience stronger and more resilient.