After weeks of social distancing, I can’t be the only one that is struggling with a variety of emotions. Stress about not having a job and feeling trapped all the time are only the tip of the iceberg. I’m a very social person, and not being around people has been incredibly difficult for me. I’ve been video chatting with friends, but it’s not at all like seeing them in person.
On top of this, I miss my students so much. Online learning isn’t the same, and not seeing their smiles in my classroom every day has been the hardest part of quarantine for me.
I just finished my own schooling at Kent State University, and I will not be having a regular graduation until who knows when. I know I have met the requirements, but it still feels rather anti-climactic after 5 years of writing papers and working two/three jobs to pay for my tuition.
Sounds like I’m complaining, right?
It depends on how I look at it.
Let me show you a different way of looking at it.
A Different Perspective
I can’t change any of those things. There is absolutely nothing I can do to “fix” any of the situations mentioned above. But I can change how I look at them.
Not having a job can be stressful when it comes to paying bills. (Let me clarify here that I am still working part time as teacher, but it’s only about 15 hours a week. I lost my main income when the shutdown began). But I have a choice. I can mope about not having work, or I can relax, knowing that God will take care of all my needs. I hope His plan involves me going back to work soon though–I miss all of my coworkers and customers!
Let me be honest about online schooling. It’s awful. I feel like I have completely lost connection with a lot of my students, I feel like I can’t be there for them like I want to, and it’s a ton of extra work for me.
But this is where God has reminded me that I had a wonderful time with them in class for the first 7 months or so. He reminded me I still have a purpose and I’m still teaching even though it feels completely different. Even though the school year didn’t end the way I wanted it to, I couldn’t have gotten a better group of kids for my first year teaching. I am so blessed to have spent the first three quarters of the school year with them in person, and I will do my very best to finish strong for them.
As far as my own schooling, I have had to come to terms with the fact that it simply won’t be a normal celebration. But I did finish, whether I have a ceremony or not. The day I was supposed to graduate, I will be running a 5k specifically in honor of 2020 graduates–especially my own students that will be graduating high school this year. Even though it will be an odd ending to my time as an undergrad, I am still grateful for God’s help to me through each semester. I learned so much and I am excited to see what the next step is for me.
The examples above were very specific ones from my life currently, but looking at things with a positive view is something that I want to always do in life. Philippians 4:11 says “I have learned how to be content with whatever I have” (NLT). Instead of wishing for what “could be,” maybe we need to stop and learn how to be content with what we do have.
I miss regular church services. . . but . . . I am grateful for the drive-in services we have been having and the efforts of my pastor and many others to provide beautiful sermons for us during this difficult time.
I miss working. . . but . . . I trust God to care for me and I am grateful for this time to recharge and reflect.
I miss my friends. . . but . . . we live in an age in which we are able to contact people instantly and even see their faces on a screen while we chat.
Life is frustrating when things happen differently than we wanted them to, but we don’t have to let it ruin things for us. I choose to be content. I choose to rest in God’s arms and trust Him to take care of me.
Things That I do to Stay Happy
1. Stay close to God
I spent too much of my life trying to find happiness in other things, but I never found true contentment without God. Trusting Him to provide is exhilarating–like jumping off a cliff without fear, knowing that He is there to catch you. Believing that He is in control takes the stress away and replaces it with a sweet peace and rest.
2. Get Some Exercise
Quarantine makes it easy to just sit around all day, especially if you are unable to go to work. I have been trying to go running about three times a week (I’m actually training for a 5k) but even going on a brisk walk every day would be good. Exercise causes your body to release endorphins, which make you feel happier and more positive in general.
Exercising has made my quarantine a thousand times better, and it’s super easy to follow social distancing rules while walking or running. You can also find plenty of at-home workout plans online!
3. Cut Back Screen Time
Too much screen time has been proven to cause sleep problems. Beyond this, I have noticed that too much screen time often makes me feel edgy or anxious. It can be difficult to avoid being on a screen all day, especially with online schooling or working from home, but taking time to do something not involving a screen can do wonders.
4. Avoid News Stories as Much as Possible
I know it’s good to have an idea of what’s going on in the world, but there is definitely a risk of being too involved. Especially if you are likely to become stressed or anxious by reading news articles, it may be best to focus on other things.
Philippians 4:8 tells us to think about things that are honorable, just, pure, and lovely. We shouldn’t spend all day reading news stories that are potentially quite depressing, but instead, we should think about good things (and things that make us think about the good things that God has done for us).
This obviously depends on where you live (and unfortunately Ohio has not been blessing us with a lot of sunlight so far), but if you can get outside and get some fresh air and sunlight, it can do amazing things for you. It makes me feel positive and energetic every time.
6. Socialize if Possible
Even though we have to practice social distancing right now, I have made it a point to talk to people as much as possible–mostly via video calls and phone calls. I don’t live alone (yet), so I have also been blessed to have my family to talk to. I know that introverted people might be enjoying not having to socialize as much, but I feel much better after talking to people.
7. Go to Church
Right now, church is more accessible than ever. If you can’t normally make it to church services, there are so many churches providing livestreams every Sunday. You can literally be encouraged in God from your living room.
Some churches are providing a drive-in option as well, which is what I prefer. Even though I can’t get out of my car, I feel more connected to people knowing that I am there with a congregation of people I love.
Regardless, church services have been so encouraging to me. Not only have I heard inspiring messages, but I am also reminded of the fact that this quarantine has not taken away my ability to worship Jesus. It has not taken God out of my life. We can still come together (while staying far apart) in prayer and in worship.
8. Make Other People Happy
One thing that has never failed to put a smile on my face is making other people smile. Send a text to a friend you miss and tell them that. You might make their day. Don’t post negative content on social media. Instead, post things that will make other people smile as they see your bright post in the midst of depressing news stories.
Drop of flowers for someone or send a handwritten letter. If these concern you because of possibly spreading germs, send an email or a digital gift card. Let someone know you appreciate them and you’re thinking about them.
9. Be Thankful
Take time to stop and think of several things you are thankful for. This will force your mind to focus on the positives in your life instead of the negatives. It’s hard to feel sad when you are thinking about everything you are thankful for.
10. Do What Makes YOU Happy
I’ve mostly posted the things that really work for me, but every person is different. If something else works for you, do that. Find what makes you relax and feel positive. Maybe a quiet morning with coffee is better for you than a video chat. Do that.
Take care of yourself.
We may not be able to control the things going on around us, but we can control our attitude. We can do things that help us think positively about our lives so that we don’t look back on this time as something terrible. I want to be able to look back at the 2020 quarantine as a bright spot in my life, even if parts of it aren’t great.
I choose happiness.
~Happy are the people whose God is the LORD. ~