Finding Strength During Quarantine
by Jenna Hajny
The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we live: professional sports seasons have been suspended, places of worship are closed, and schools across the country are set to be held online for the rest of the academic year. Yet the duration of this new normal still remains a question. Living in the Bay Area, I’ve been sheltering in place since March 17, now equating to over seven weeks in quarantine. I’ve experienced this unusual time in waves. Some days are characterized by competitive rounds of Scattergories, while others are filled with extreme frustration and anxiety. Not every day feels like a triumph, but I can definitively say I’ve found new strength in quarantine.
THE SLUMP: CONSUMED BY CORONA
After abruptly leaving UCLA, my first two weeks at home were riddled with self-pity. I mourned the balanced spring quarter schedule I’d never get to enjoy, the rescheduling of Stagecoach, and most of all—not saying a proper goodbye to the friends I’d just made. These negative emotions only grew as I scrolled through the copious amount of Instagram posts and pop-culture articles essentially telling people to crawl into a ball. So, I did. For days, I slept in until 10 a.m., watched endless episodes of the Great British Baking Show, and ate Girl Scout Cookies. Although these are all completely valid forms of coping, they didn’t make me feel any better.
COVID-19 has taken people’s jobs and loved ones. It has also forced college students across the country to move out of dorms, unraveling plans long in the making. I realized that if I stopped eating right, exercising, and reaching out to the people I care about, I would’ve given the virus all my power. I clung onto the belief that if we consciously chose to not relinquish our power, we could overcome these uncharted times. From that moment on, I became committed to strengthening myself instead of succumbing to the virus’s control over my life.
REGROUPING: A WALK A DAY KEEPS MY NEGATIVITY AT BAY
A major source of strength during quarantine has been seriously prioritizing exercise—at least 30 minutes a day. Getting fresh air has always been invaluable for my mental health, so I would go on daily walks around my neighborhood (always being conscious of social distancing)! I’ve also enjoyed exploring virtual fitness options. Some of my favorites include the Love Sweat Fitness app, Active by POPSUGAR, and CorePower Yoga On Demand. To prepare for the workouts on these platforms, I went on a scavenger hunt around my house. I found a set of resistance bands, a jump rope, and three-pound weights. It may not sound like much, but I have been pleasantly surprised by the variety of ways to utilize this limited equipment. I even realized that I could use dish towels as Gliders (although I’m not sure my mom’s a huge fan of that)!
Aside from exercise, playing board games with my family, zoom-baking with friends, and journaling are some other activities helping me cope throughout quarantine. Everyone’s situation is different, so whatever gives you a sense of hope or some semblance of normalcy during these difficult times is totally up to you. Find something that makes you smile.
SETBACKS: CRAVING NORMALCY
While I have established a solid routine, I still get overwhelmed by the current state of our world. An especially poignant moment occurred just a week into the quarantine when I went to Safeway with my mom. Despite being armed with a mask and gloves, I felt like I was holding my breath the entire time. When we got back to the car, I frantically sanitized my hands and started to cry.
Grocery shopping has always been a source of happiness and familial bonding, but the experience was now tainted with paranoia, anxiety, and hostility. I felt like I was in enemy territory. Nobody smiled, nobody talked. Any pause to examine the grocery list or choose a piece of produce resembled trespassing. There was immense pressure to navigate the store at hyper speed. I could only imagine what it must be like to work there and am grateful to those who risk their lives every day.
Even though this experience was jarring, I refused to let coronavirus seize my power. So, I returned to the same grocery store with my sister a few weeks later. It still felt alien to be counted as we entered and maneuvered through a sea of masked strangers, but I was calmer this time around. Even though the circumstances are unusual, I’m still with the people I love.
LOOKING FORWARD: ONE YOGA POSE AT A TIME
To keep my momentum going, I started Online Yoga Sculpt Teacher Training through CorePower Yoga. The 50-hour course spans five-weeks and covers everything from how to do a proper push-up to choosing the right tone of voice. Since the course is held online the participants and instructors are from all across the United States.
Yesterday, I completed my fourth week of instruction. In such a short period of time, both my physical and emotional strength has progressed. I’ve enjoyed learning about the intention behind our movements through muscle-action cues. For example, in mountain pose, I’d say: press your feet into the ground to lengthen your spine. I’ve also had the space to identify my Sankalpa, which is essentially one’s purpose or intention in life.
Participating in CorePower’s teacher training has provided a greater spiritual connection during these turbulent times. In our first session together everyone recited: “we commit to do all we can, with all we have, in the time that we have, in the place where we are.” This mission has opened my eyes to living compassionately during COVID-19. We are all just doing our best to adapt to the situation at hand.