No one expected the year 2020 to be one of the most challenging times in recorded history. From the COVID-19 pandemic breakout, Black Lives Matter riots, 2020 presidential election to the horrific West Coast wildfires, everyone’s world was shaken and then put on pause. As people worldwide learned to adapt to the new idea of ordinary living, many people struggled with their mental health. Especially in today’s fast-past always changing society, humans are not used to staying inside day after day. Any trip outside of the house has become such a trigger for many people, including me. For the past year and a half, I have battled with high levels of anxiety. The pandemic did not help. Nevertheless, I decided to hush my negative and anxiety-probing thoughts one day by coming up with a few positives that have come out of 2020, and I wanted to share them all with my readers! Some of these are personal to me, and others are more general.
With so much time to spare, I was able to relax and reflect. From taking beautifully scented bubble baths, binge-watching Shameless, taking up yoga, indulging in facemasks to journaling for twenty minutes a day, I did little things for myself and by myself.
I know that the lockdown has been pretty lonely for many people, but take this time to invest in yourself. Saying no to your one friend and spending a night in is so underrated. Before covid I used always to be out and about, meeting new people and going out with friends, but now I have the chance to develop a deeper relationship with myself— I love it. Self-care has become a theme during 2020-2021, and I am all for it. Healing the mind through downtime has been a huge positive for me, and I hope some of you guys as well. Sometimes it’s nice to be a little bored and learn to appreciate the nothingness.
Since fewer people are driving cars and going out due to quarantine mandates, I believe the environment is taking a break from all the typical pollution. When I walk with my boyfriend, I have recognized how much greener and lush the Oregon trails have become, especially during the Summer. I was amazed at how overgrown some parts were, and I liked how nature took back its land. It almost seemed apocalyptic in a way. Examining the stringy vines creeping onto the corners of the sidewalk instilled a sort of calm. Nature has always been an escape for me when I am stressed, so seeing some of my bushes in my front yard growing far beyond the landlord’s liking made me smile. Have you guys noticed this too? I have become so appreciative of nature’s beauty and how lucky we all are to be surrounded by its wonders.
Over the years, I have made so many friends. During this past year, however, it all stopped rather abruptly. Bars, restaurants, gyms, and stores made it very hard for me to meet new people, on top of developing anxiety for covid. Nonetheless, I have instead taken this isolation as an opportunity to strengthen my close friendships and filter out fake or shallow ones. It has been a truly eye-opening experience how freeing it is to cut those unhealthy friendships out of my life and focus on the people who love and care about me the most. Keeping in contact with friends has also been difficult during the lockdown, but maintaining a routine FaceTime schedule has made it bearable, fun, and interactive.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, I have disciplined myself in terms of keeping myself in shape. Every other day I force myself to go on either a run or turn on a quick ten to fifteen minute YouTube workout. My favorite fitness YouTuber right now is named Stefanie Williams. She has been such an inspiration in my fitness journey throughout quarantine, and I am forever thankful for her advice, videos, and overall impact on my mood. Most days, I do not feel motivated or capable of retaining my physique, yet Stef keeps me pushing myself. From leg workouts to ab workouts, I have noticed a significant change in my health and confidence, two things necessary in 2020 and beyond. I highly encourage anyone and everyone to watch her channel and see how strong you will become.
With online classes and little reason to get up and about each day, I have found this time to be very telling of who you want to become. Many people have the option to stay in the house day after day, while others challenge themselves. The best tool I have found to be the most useful is Google Calendar. Before the pandemic, I relied on planners and sticky notes. You cannot only receive notifications on your phone and organize what event you will be doing at an exact time, but it builds a routine. Quarantine has given so many people excuses to be lazy and unorganized; this unpredictable lifestyle is not for me, though. Browsing LinkedIn for internships, getting involved in more clubs, completing class assignments before their due dates, and forcing myself daily to exercise has been a real strength I have developed. Not only have I become more independent, but also more self-satisfied.
Time has slowed down so much. Taking the time to reconnect with family and reflect on how much your family loves and cares about you has been huge for me. My family has recently moved to Arizona, so it has been hard to spend time with them and catch up. Yet, quarantine has enabled me to recognize how important they are to me and vise versa. No one will love me more than my family, and I am so eternally grateful. Sitting in the living room and enjoying a pleasant family movie marathon has never been so meaningful. We could seriously be doing nothing but talking in the backyard, shoving rocks, and still find time to value each other’s company. As I have gotten older, I have cherished the time I spend with my family, and 2020 allowed me to spend even more time loving them.