Coronavirus Column: How I use my free time in quarantine

During this pandemic, finding things to do that make me happy have been helping with my mental health and has made me gain a new perspective on life.


Illustration by Michelle Rodriguez.

Haley Flamenbaum, Contributing Writer

As a student in this pandemic, life has been stressful and isolating due to the upcoming school year and the stress of daily life. Finding things to occupy my time such as running, cleaning/decluttering and self-care has been helping me with my mental health and happiness. 


How someone spends their time may be different for everyone, but this piece is just giving the perspective of one student and how they spend their time. 


With the state of the world as of now, I have been trying to steer away from social media to reduce the production of stress. 


An article published by the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services has advised the public to limit media consumption in order to reduce the effects of stress and mental health. I have been noticing that social media has been causing me anxiety and gaining negative thoughts as updates from the news has been unhealthy for me personally, so as a way to get away from that, I have been trying new things. 


For starters, I have been getting into various forms of self-care to be a new venture of ease and personal growth. Self-care for each person may mean different things. I believe that self-care means to take care of yourself in any avenue of preferences, such as physical activity, cleaning and managing a routine.


First, I love running. I use running and or any type of physical activity as a way to manage my anxiety, to raise my mood and to make me become more consistent with maintaining a routine. I work out every other day for an hour or more. 


The importance of physical activity listed by the non-profit Nuvance Health states that exercise “boosts the immune system,” “reduces stress and anxiety” and “improves sleep.” Personally, I have felt all of the effects of exercising because running/walking on the treadmill has become an activity that acts as a getaway from the real world. Over the years I have realized that physical activity is not only a form of weight loss, it is a form of improving my mental health.


Second, I have been redoing and decluttering my room. Designing my bedroom has been fun and time consuming as I have been online shopping for all of my supplies and decluttering my room. 


The act of decluttering a room is useful during this time period because it allows for more creativity and creates a sense of purpose and change. I am redesigning my bedroom to make it look more mature and to make it a space that makes me happy. The plan for my bedroom is to get rid of some furniture, paint my walls and to make a gallery wall with pictures from vacation and souvenirs from Broadway shows that I have seen. 


Third, I categorize maintaining a routine with preparing for the second half of the summer term and implementing family time. Over the past few weeks, I have been applying a routine regarding my study habits to prepare myself for the summer semester, such as reading, researching major topics for any class.  


Alongside school, family time has remained persistent because it is a time for us to gather and discuss activities of the day. Although some may not think of a routine as a way of spending time, I do. A routine is a repeated action over a certain time frame. The aspect of a routine gives me a sense of fulfillment as it is consistent and makes me aware of my decisions. 


All of the activities discussed will be carried over into non-quarantine life as they make me happy and healthy.  If anything, this experience has taught me to prioritize my well-being and mental health before anything else. 


Haley Flamenbaum is a contributing writer for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected].