by Gabby Morreale ’23

Illustration by Richard Farrell ’22

Being stuck at home in quarantine can make it hard to stick to a routine and stay motivated to do work. Here are 11 small ways you can de-stress and get yourself back on track!

  1. Go for a walk around the block, if you can.

If you feel too cooped up in your house doing work, go for a walk! Get out and walk around the block, forget the chores you have to do, and focus on looking at the sights around you. Look up at the sky, notice the color of the flowers in the flower beds, or look at some cute dogs while they’re out on their walks, too. It’s a nice, quick way to get out of a motivation block and to reorient your restlessness in nature.

  1. Make your bed.

Do you feel overwhelmed with obligations, but don’t know where to start? Make your bed! It’s a task that requires very little brain power, but it’s stimulating enough to spark momentum. Making your bed only takes five minutes, but it’s a great opportunity, no matter the time of day, to show yourself your ability to start and finish a task. Plus, you’ll have a neat bed to climb into after you’ve finished your work for the day!

  1. While you’re at it, clean your room.

Sometimes a cluttered work room can be a major facilitator of stress. Set a timer for 10 minutes and clean as much as you can in that time. By having a space that is clean and put together, you’ll be able to focus more on the task at hand, instead of feeling like you’re buried and trapped in the mess of your room. Physically organizing your things can also be a great warm-up for when you’ve got to mentally organize your tasks for work. Ultimately, it’s another great activity of productivity and self-care!

  1. Put a cool cloth over your eyes.

Now that classes, homework, and social activities rely completely on computers and phones, your eyes and brain are taking a  beating from blue light. If your eyes are feeling puffy or bloated, take a break from work and put a cool, damp washcloth over your eyes to relax. If you’d like to get fancy, cucumber is also a great tool to wake up!

  1. Brush your teeth/eat a mint/chew gum.

Feeling groggy or burnt out from that essay you’re working on? Go brush your teeth or eat something minty! Freshening your breath is a great way to hit the reset button and wake your senses up after sitting down to work for hours at a time.

  1. Light a candle and smell it. 

Candles are a fantastic way to remind yourself to slow down and reassess. It’s easy to get caught up in all of the assignments, lectures, or family needs you’ve got to tend to, and lighting a candle is a simple way to take your mind away from that. Candles provide calm, ambient lighting and come in a variety of scents like lavender, pine, or fresh laundry!

Stop all your work, and play your favorite song. Blast it and sing at the top of your lungs.

If you find yourself in a work lull, stop and pick a song that you know the lyrics to. It can be your favorite song of all time or a song you recently can’t get out of your head. Play it at full volume, sing it at the top of your lungs, dance to it, or just sit and listen to it. Don’t multitask while you’re playing the song, just work on giving your full attention to it. In this way, you can gather yourself together if you’re feeling scatterbrained and give yourself a break!

  1. Change clothes. Even if you got dressed today.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t still wear comfortable clothes! Maybe it sounds like a no-brainer, but this simple task can be easily forgotten in the rush to take care of work. It’s nice to sit all day in the pajamas you went to sleep in, but changing your clothes can be helpful in training yourself to get into work mode. Even if you’ve already gotten changed, change again; just like brushing your teeth, redressing can give you a reset button and a physical indicator to start again if you feel stuck or uninspired by work.

  1. Write. 

Don’t focus on the words themselves, just focus on your penmanship. Feel the letters in your hand as you write them, and write, aimlessly, any word that comes to mind. Try to write as neatly as you can, or practice your cursive. This is very therapeutic and is a simple way to take a break from work at your desk. Maybe you’ll happen to write the next New York Times Bestseller too! 

  1. Run up the stairs. 

Can’t keep your eyes open while doing work? Find a nearby staircase in your house, apartment, or wherever you are staying and sprint up them as fast as you can. This will get your heart rate up and wake you up in seconds! Alternatively, try “mountain climbers” — get into a pushup position on the floor and bring your right knee up to your chest, then switch to the left knee. Keep a steady pace for 30 seconds, switching right and left as if you are running in place on the floor. These exercises will give you a small jolt of energy and get your blood flowing! 

  1. Stop working, pick one person from your contacts list, and tell them you miss them. Or that you hope they’re having a good day. Or send them a funny meme and tell them that it made you think of them. Anything to indicate that they have your attention.

During quarantine, it’s easy to feel isolated from the ones you love, and it’s easy to get swept up in obligations. Take some time away from what you have to do and spend some time doing what you want to do. If you get a sudden urge to talk to someone, act on it! They are probably feeling just as isolated as you. Take a break from work by contacting one person and send them something that lets them know that you are thinking of them. Julie Moock ‘23 says that even though she’s sad to be apart from her friends, this quarantine has helped her “focus on the small details” and appreciate her friends and family more. Make sure you’re constantly reminding yourself of the support you have and the support you can give in these times! 

We have these small acts in our daily routines that glue our day together. On campus, we have our getting ready for class routines, we walk around on campus to get to our activities, and we change environments constantly through the day. These small acts of preparation and acknowledgement can help you to adapt your college routine for home, and will keep you moving forward in this shelter-in-place world. Go forth and conquer those quarantine crazies!