10 Best Ways to Spend Your Quarantine
While we are amidst unthinkable times during a global pandemic, many Laurentians have taken solace in the old saying, “When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade." This figure of speech is one you can trace back all the way to your earliest memories as a child. The simplicity of this idea has continuously been reinforced as fact in our society; however, like all things, it can be easier said than done. Nevertheless, I have now seen countless examples of my peers taking advantage of their unexpected extension to summer break in order to challenge themselves either physically or mentally. While so many athletes across the country saw their spring season cut short, a plethora of home workout routines for all experience levels have emerged as a result. Although Laurentians this year may not have gotten to enjoy our beautiful spring on campus, other students are still able to enjoy the season in the comfort of their homes and with families. Whether it be a wholesome family game night, a calming morning jog, or even a zoom call with your best friends from SLU, Laurentians are finding more and more ways to make the best of this time.
Anyone who has ever attended St. Lawrence is well aware of how much we value making the best out of bleak situations (Who else in the world has an entire campus grilling and skiing on the Quad during March of a North Country winter?). So while this era of quarantine presents a challenge we have little control over, it is essential to take this time and focus on what we do have control over. If you are like me, thoughts and anxieties about what the future holds can become apparent when your world suddenly changes so unexpectedly; however, setting a new goal every day has been one of the ways many have become so positive during these trying times. This could be setting a new personal best on a run, or as simple as making your bed first thing in the morning. Regardless of what happened yesterday, today presents another opportunity to challenge yourself to be your best self. COVID-19 has created a dump truck of lemons and today we focus on starting our very own lemonade stand as we discuss the best ways to keep yourself healthy both physically and mentally during quarantine!
10 Ways To Keep Yourself Healthy Physically and Mentally at Home
1. Get Yourself Jogging!
Cardio is the ultimate workout for anyone trapped at home who does not have access to gym equipment. As a member of the men’s varsity rowing team, cardio is essential; however, I don’t have my own erg, meaning I am huffing and puffing down a new road every day in my town. The great part about running is anyone can do it at any pace, even if that means starting with a long walk! If you have been running your whole life or want to do it for your first time, now is the time to start. If you haven't gone on a run in a while, make sure you warm up your muscles first with a light jog followed by some dynamic stretching. Always make sure to stretch adequately at the end as well for maximum avoidance of sore muscles. Don’t forget to hydrate, too.
2. Personal Pilates
If running isn’t your speed, thank the internet and all of the fitness accounts you can find on YouTube. Pilates is a great combination of cardio, strength training, and flexibility training all merged into one ball of rhythmic workouts to some of your favorite hip hop hits! I promise you that this won’t let you down. My first pilates video I opened on my phone left me absolutely drenched in sweat and feeling as accomplished as ever. A yoga mat is pretty inexpensive, too, on Amazon, so maybe this will inspire you to start making some videos of your own.
3. Yoga is Good for the Soul
On the topic of yoga mats, yoga is an incredible way to make yourself sweat AND stretch. I personally have always been flexibly challenged, especially in my hamstrings. When you watch the yoga tutorials, the trainers touch their toes with ease and grace. Me on the other hand? Not so much. Yet, two weeks later I am still watching videos of yoga tutorials, and am finding another level of satisfaction now that I can see the progress I am making on my flexibility. Hunching over my laptop suddenly feels much less tense and stressful, and this is now an essential part of my daily routine.
4. Body Circuits
For those of us who aren’t stuck in their houses with an entire squat rack, there has been a challenge for people whose normal routine consists of going to the gym. Going from constant gym access on campus to nothing at home can seem daunting; however, there are some great body circuits that will make you burn just as much! I like to do a variety of workouts that range from upper body, lower body, and core. I try to do pushups every day, and then like to do bodyweight leg raises, planks, shoulder taps, crunches, lunges, and squats just for some examples! Push-ups are an example of a workout you can do anywhere. If you can’t do a pushup, start on your knees and work your way. The magic thing about them is the more you do the better you get at them! Given the number of people learning new body circuits during quarantine, just open up Google and you suddenly have a brand new variety of workouts! As much as I would love to show everyone the workouts I have been learning, there are some absolute pros all over social media that make it way easier.
5. Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome
So I saved the best for last because this is my personal favorite. If you find yourself growing tired of bodyweight exercises but you have no weights at home, look for your school backpack and maybe another old one lying around. If you have a scale, you can fill your backpacks with household items until they hold a desirable weight. Then, look for a broom or something long enough to hold backpacks, and place the straps of the backpacks over each end of the broom. Suddenly, you have yourself a weighted bar that can be used for bicep curls, bent-over rows, squats, maybe even a bench press depending on how creative you get! If two bags are too much for you, one works just as well! Calf raises, lunges or squats are very easy to do on your staircase with a backpack on! You really can create your own home gym once you get creative with it.
If the workout aspect of physical health seems intimidating to you, or just simply doesn't seem interesting; there are still plenty of ways to challenge yourself every day mentally, too! Getting your schoolwork done remotely takes up most of my mental strength for the day normally, but I still have other strategies that are great to pass the time and help me feel accomplished.
6. Make Your Bed
While this seems so small and mundane, this is the perfect day to start your day productively. If you haven’t already seen the famous speech by U.S. Navy Admiral William McRaven, go ahead and watch it because it will make you absolutely inspired. He explains how every day, starting off with a mundane and simple task like making your bed leads you to perform another task, and then another. I won’t try to replicate his words; however, I will say that this speech has always been incredible to me and couldn’t recommend it more.
7. Pick Up That Book!
As a kid, I used to get in trouble in elementary school for reading during class, but I was just that obsessed with it. The fact that words on a page could paint such a vivacious image inside of your head and make you drift into another universe always blew my mind. However, as I got older and joined more clubs and started doing sports, I would start getting exhausted by the reading assigned to me in classes and didn’t have time to read leisurely. Some people still read a book in their free time now and have done so their whole lives, which is wonderful! If you haven’t in a while, there is no better time like now to really bring back your inner kid and read some old classics. Or, take a long leisurely peruse in your family’s bookshelf that never really seems to get used, and you might find a few gems!
8. Become a Five-Star Chef
While the caption here may come off as slightly facetious, cooking is a hobby I have never really tried. Personally, being home has really made me realize how much more food I consume than the rest of my family. This ultimately led to me realizing that if I want to be training every day, I have to just start cooking myself more food. While I haven't exactly perfected my own recipe (I do think I make a delicious breakfast quesadilla), I have watched a number of cooking videos and found plenty of online recipes that have broadened my horizons. This can be an activity that has immediate gratification as I promise you when you are the one making the food it always tastes 10 times better. This can be a fun thing to do with your family, too. Just make sure not to leave the dishes out!
9. The Art of Meditation
During my FYP "Peace Begins with Me," we studied the art of meditation. In this course, I found so much value in really connecting with myself and my body. You can find all sorts of meditation videos online, all you have to do is breathe and close your eyes! The videos typically have a voice guiding you with directions; however, you can also just focus on your own breathing. The key to meditation is to go in with an open mind and SLU has already opened me to so many new experiences. If you are looking for a way to relax during these stressful times: sit down, close your eyes, breathe, and feel yourself relax.
10. Disconnect to Reconnect
This last one is the most important one of all to me. In a day and age where social media is increasingly powerful in our everyday lives, it does not hurt to take a little bit of time every day to just disconnect and be completely present with those around you. For me, my family has started to do scrabble nights or croquet in our backyard. You can take this time to go on a walk, and just clear your head from everything out of your control. I have talked to multiple friends and family members who have taken up journaling, poetry, and other forms of creative writing. It doesn’t have to be published in a book, just thoughts to yourself you write down and see. Despite the chaos of COVID-19, this time is so valuable because it gives you another opportunity to be connected with your family. As a rising senior, I have decided to not dwell on my time lost at school this semester and rather enjoy the rest of the time I have with my family before I graduate. All it takes is just a little bit a day.
Regardless of what you do with your free time during quarantine; whether it be watching TV in bed, or training for a marathon, do what makes you happy. If right now you are stressed and anxious, don’t feel alone because a lot of people are feeling the same thing. Just remember, take it one day at a time, and it won't be long until we can all again lie beneath the purple shadows of the Adirondack hills, and once again be reunited with our fellow Laurentians.