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Viewed 79 times 2020-3-20 08:36 |System category:Life

Is this my life now? This is the question millions are asking themselves while in quarantine around the world. I have been in my apartment for weeks in 黄石 (Huángshí), Hubei. I refuse to keep count of the days. It’s not helpful for this situation. What is helpful, I have found, is to create a very detailed routine. Fill each day with a to-do list, mini rituals, and hobbies. I hope you can get some ideas from how I have decided to craft my days in a situation that feels out of control. Take control of your time, your health, and your mindset. Let this guide be an outline. If you are one of the lucky ones able to walk freely, I envy you. But you could learn something from how I spend a typical day focused on the now, living with intent and purpose.


Since we are at the mercy of how the various news outlets decide to cover the outbreak to any degree that will get the most attention, it’s usually in the most theatrical light possible. This will take a toll on your mood, motivation, and perceived level of safety. It’s not as bad as they say in some aspects while on the other hand, it’s wreaking havoc on the human condition. What I mean by this is that it’s not so bad for a healthy individual to catch the virus. It’s equivalent to the common flu in many cases. The real detriment is what quarantine, misinformation, and panic can do to a person on a mental and emotional level.


This is why my routine includes avoiding too much media exposure. I start my day by waking up naturally. I let the sunlight tell me when it’s time to rise. I’ve reset my sleep patterns and now wake at 6:45. I immediately drink water and do some mobility work to signal my body to support my mind since shortly after I will tackle my “to-do” list that I made the night before.


The To-Do List


The list is of paramount importance. I divide it into 3 categories. The first being activities that I find pleasure in doing but must nonetheless be accomplished.


This can include

● Water the plants, deadhead the spent blooms, add fertilizer

● Write gratitudes and reflect on goals

● Practice handstand


The second category is a little more demanding. It requires more focus that comes with being fully awake and present. This category should include activities that will catapult you ever so closer toward a goal that you set for yourself.


For me this includes

● Study Chinese online with eChineseLearning

● Write 10 pages of a novel

● Send 5 messages to friends or family to keep in touch


The third category includes things that are not of great importance but need to be done to maintain order in my home.


This list generally includes things like

● Buy bulbs and change light sockets

● Restock refrigerator

● Dust and wipe down surfaces

● Pushups, jump squats, and Russian twists

● Reply to emails


In between doing my to-do list, I have my own little rituals that keep me grounded. For example, before doing my handstand practice I make coffee with a French press to rev me up. And since I take Chinese class online I like to listen to some Chinese music or read Chinese comics to shift gears in my brain.


I find that maintaining routine while seeing progress in everything I accomplish in my to-do list keeps me so busy and satisfied that I don’t have time to feel very many negative emotions.


That’s not to say that certain negative emotions are bad or at all uncommon. Feeling trapped, bored, or lonely are 100% normal. That’s where the physical activity and studies help so much. Make it a point to be physical in some way. It releases serotonin and boosts your mood so much more than drinking or binging in movies ever could. Also, prioritize learning something new. I am putting a focus on speaking Chinese conversationally as well as really understanding root characters and radicals. It challenges my mind and gives me more control over the thoughts that surface as well as how I react to them. I hope you all have access to the internet. If so, you can get an extra month of free classes right now with the same language company I use. eChineseLearning will give you a trial lesson online for free. Just mention my name. Or just join their WeChat group to learn interesting topics about Chinese by adding jenniferzhu6.



On the days that you need some socialization and entertainment download extensions or apps that allow movie watching online with friends. You could also do online gaming or simply use the screen share option in some messengers. If you play an instrument organize a jam night with friends online. If you have a hobby that you are good at, consider sharing it with the world. Do a makeup tutorial and hold a live stream on social media so you can communicate with people in real-time. There are so many ways to be social without having to be in the same room as someone. In the future, I definitely want to be surrounded by familiar faces and exchange much needed hugs, but until then these ideas do just fine.


Beyond these have a project you can work on that will give you something to look forward to. I am planning an epic bike ride. I am mapping out routes in a few countries and have a lot to look forward to. The fact that I plan to cycle through China really gives me motivation and direction in my studies. They tie into one another as do a couple of my other to-do list items. It’s the ultimate way to spend my day, in my opinion.


Give yourself a purpose. Include a mix of activities to work on each day that needs both immediate attention as well as offer future benefits. Schedule in physical activity as well as social events. You’ll be much more eager to start your day, you’ll feel good, and keep busy too. Overall, you will create a well-rounded version of yourself and when the day comes for you get to integrate back into the big wide world, you’ll be better for it.


Recently Italy and New Rochelle, New York has put its citizens on lockdown. I am thinking about you all and can empathize. To everyone affected by the coronavirus, I hope you get the most out of each and every day.


Stay strong, everybody.


Kevin Pierce is an English teacher and student in China who writes short fiction and loves sports.


(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




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