March 10th, 2020 was the last time I experienced a sense of normalcy. I had one of my favorite nights out with my girlfriend and family, we met up for dinner at one of our favorite restaurants and then caught a late film right after. It was a wonderful evening filled with laughter, sparkling conversation, and a lot of proper affection like hugs and kisses. Thanks to my delightful evening the night before, I awoke refreshed and ready for the day ahead. All those good feelings quickly disappeared after I received a message from my boss saying that we would be working from home indefinitely. This message left me concerned, which prompted me to read the news. Everything was closing and the entire country was going to be locked down because the coronavirus was spreading at a rapid rate. I wasn’t sad to be working from home, but I suddenly became terrified of an enemy I couldn’t see.
Thankfully, I was adjusted to working from home because we had always worked from home at least once a week. This was an initiative that our company started this way we could save time on our commutes, which we could put towards something constructive in our lives and it also allowed us to learn how to become self-motivated. I was grateful to have these skills because, in the time of a pandemic, it allowed me to keep my focus at work, despite feeling a lot of mental fatigue and some sadness because the pandemic thrust us into this new reality.
I found myself enjoying working from home daily. I enjoyed not having a commute because it allowed me to do other activities that could be done from home and if I had extra work that couldn’t wait, I didn’t mind spending more time completing that work and sometimes even getting a head start on my work for the coming week. Staying home has me working more, which I don’t mind because it proved that no matter what situation I am in, I could always find a way to stay productive and on top of my tasks. At the same time, working from home has been very exhausting in a way I never imagined. The reason being that at first, I didn’t assign myself a proper space to associate with work and because I was working all over where I lived, I would stop work, but my mind would still be stuck on work. This left me feeling anxious, stressed, and even a little sad because I couldn’t relax or enjoy any of my hobbies. I realized my error in judgment and created an area reserved specifically for work. When I would sit in the chair, I would be in work mode and when I would leave the chair and stop working all together, I no longer felt that lingering work mindset and I was finally able to relax again.
Over the course of the last few months, I noticed that my mental health was slowly getting worse each day that passed. With everything going on in the world and not being able to see my girlfriend, family, and close friends in person was way harder than I expected it to be. Experiencing that human connection first hand has played a part in keeping me happy and having the drive to continue working hard on my career and personal projects. Taking that away made my motivation escape me at a rapid rate. I stopped working out and working on my personal projects all together because my mental health took a sharp decline. I even noticed that I started to gain some weight. Sure, this was apparently normal being in quarantine, especially because there was only so much you could do, but the stress of the whole pandemic could easily put your body into panic mode and it just slowly starts to function differently as it adjusts to this new reality, which is anything but peaceful and stress free.
As the global pandemic took a toll on my mental health and erased the progress I had made over the last year frequenting the gym and trying to be healthier, I allowed myself to experience this new low, which had felt both familiar and unknown, given the circumstances. By doing this, I learned how to pick myself up and find new ways to encourage change for the better. I began creating an award system for myself and writing out achievable goals to help get the ball rolling and fuel my encouragement for my passions. I never realized this before the coronavirus pandemic how satisfying it is to cross something off your list. I feel like you have read this before, but I am telling you, if you make a list, start with easier goals, and as time goes on, challenge yourself, make the goals a little more difficult. At the same time, when you increase the goal difficulty,
increase the reward. You could even create a monthly splurge of something you love and if you reach your goal, treat yourself to something that makes you as close to euphoria as possible.
I wanted to share my story because I wanted you all to know that it’s ok to not be ok. When you deny yourself of feeling sad, helpless, or not motivated at all, you deprive yourself of learning what you are truly capable of doing with your back against the wall. Once you truly get into that position, you would be surprised about what you could achieve, especially because you realize that you have nothing to lose and not trying is failing, despite what you have been told. To those of you who have read this article all the way through, thank you very much for taking the time and remember, we are all in this together. Also, ask yourself, what do I truly want to do with my life? What activities do I miss the most? Am I happy with my life? Quarantine has never been a better time to ask yourself these tough questions and finally get to know the most important person in your life…yourself.