Sunday, March 22, 2020

Are You a College Student Stuck at Home with Your Parents? Here's a Top Ten List of How to Make Your COVID-19 Isolation Happy, Productive and with less FOMO - Suggestions on Binge-Watching and More

By Julia Colucci

Editor's Note: Julia is our newest writer. She is a currently a College Freshman at home with her parents!

Many college students around the country have found themselves bored, down, and missing their schools while they are quarantined in their homes and practicing social distancing. For me, coming home early from Ithaca College was very unexpected and definitely took some getting used to.

But this temporary isolation doesn’t have to be the worst thing to ever happen to you. There are plenty of ways to stay busy and entertained while waiting out this global pandemic. Here is a list of ten activities for you to do while stuck at home that have helped both myself and some of my fellow peers:

Pick up an old hobby or start a new project: One thing I have found to be a great way to stay occupied and positive when you have a lot of time on your hands is to find a hobby or start some sort of project. This week I decided to start playing the guitar again, which is something I used to love but haven’t done in years. Playing an instrument has helped me stay positive because it feels like I am doing something productive by getting better at an old skill. Liam Barron, a freshman at William Patterson University, has turned to music as an outlet. He said, “Social isolation has allowed me to both focus on and express myself much more effectively through the music I write.” 

Another way to occupy yourself in a productive manner is by starting a project. Personally, I really enjoy interior design, so I decided that I would transform my garage (which we never use) into a music studio for my dad. Similarly, Kathryn Dauer, an Ithaca College freshman, has found a project of her own. With her extra time, she decided to redecorate her room. “It has definitely kept me busy,” she said of the project, which included a new paintjob and furniture.

Go craft crazy! Another good way to keep occupied when you’re stuck inside is to get creative with some crafts. Over winter break, after all my friends had gone back to school, I got bored and decided to create some art for my dorm, since my side of the room was looking a bit sad. So, I grabbed some old paint that I had in my closet, a canvas I found in my attic, and got to work. This was so much fun and a really great way to pass the time. Plus, my wall is looking super cute and colorful now! After talking to some of my peers, Allie Adamski, a freshman at the University of Central Florida, told me she has been making a lot of bracelets during her time in isolation. Ithaca College freshman Maddie Miele has been doing a lot of painting since she has been back home to keep her busy.

Exercise: Remember how you kept putting off those ab workouts that you told yourself in January you would do every day, but were “too busy” to actually do? Well lucky you, this is the perfect opportunity for you to get in shape! Ithaca College freshman Hannah McHale admitted that when she first realized she wasn’t going to be able to go to the gym like she used to for a while, “it was really hard and I felt like I was going to lose all my hard work.”

But soon she realized that everyone is in the same situation and her fitness is something that she can control. She told me, “I had a workout mat at home and have been going to my high school track.” Hannah makes sure to work out for at least an hour a few times a week. She assured me that “there are ways to build muscle and stay fit using your body weight.” Another Ithaca College freshman, Gabe Baltierra, told me that working out in his at-home gym has helped him a lot during this time of social isolation because “exercising helps me mentally and keeps me healthy.” Additionally, he notes that it is a good way for him and his brother to spend some quality time together.

Spend time with family: I know we all love hanging out with our friends, and that playing Scrabble with your parents isn’t necessarily the epitome of a typical fun night, but it is really important to take some time every once in a while to reconnect with the people who raised you. Some of my favorite family activities include: having a movie night, going on a walk around your neighborhood, cooking a meal together, playing a board game, watching home videos, looking through photo albums, going through your attic and see what old stuff is up there, and going on a bike ride. These are the people who will be there with you through it all, so please, go do something fun with them!

Listen to music and podcasts that make you feel good: Music is a great way to distract yourself and stay positive. Lauren Trevisani, a freshman at Tulane University, says that her favorite songs to listen to recently while she has been in quarantine are “Westworld” by EVAN GIIA, “Reckless” by Healy, “Adore You” by Harry Styles, “Blueberry Faygo” by Lil Mosey, and The Weeknd’s new album After Hours

Another great way to keep busy is by listening to podcasts. My go-to for the news is New York Time’s podcast, “The Daily.” This podcast is how I stay updated in current events and politics, because it highlights the most important topic of that day and tells you everything you need to know in twenty minutes. However, if you are trying to stay away from the news during this stressful time, Sidney Crevani, freshman at College of Mount Saint Vincent, highly recommends the podcast “Zane and Heath: Unfiltered,” which is a comedy podcast hosted by popular YouTubers Zane Hijazi and Heath Hussar.

Find a binge-worthy show: Of course, a great way to entertain yourself when you have an abundance of free time is watching TV shows and movies. However, if current events have you stressed, it is best to keep your TV and movie selection more uplifting. For example, Isabella Marsillo, a freshman at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, highly recommends the show “All American.” As someone who is also a big fan of this Netflix show, I agree that it is an incredible watch and quite the emotional rollercoaster. They just put out a new season and, my family can attest to it, I have been watching it nonstop for the past two days. Some more binge-worthy shows that myself and many of my peers have enjoyed include: The Great British Baking Show, The Office, Love is Blind, That 70s Show, Atypical, Parks and Recreation, Schitts Creek, How to Get Away With Murder, and The Politician.

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Read a book! If I’m being honest, I haven’t had much time to read because I’m usually so busy with schoolwork, clubs, and social activities at college. But now is the perfect time to catch up on my leisure reading. Here are a few recommended readings that you may find light, funny, or inspiring: Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon, Crazy in Alabama by Mark Childress, The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell by Robert Dugoni, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern.

Photo by Jana D on Pixaby

The little self-care things that you never had time for: Being home from college when I still have half a semester left had me feeling really down. However, after a few days of moping around, I decided it was time to get up and make the best out of the situation, because it could be a lot worse. Taking time for self-care helps me feel refreshed and ready to go again. 

Some self-care treatments that I have done include: painting my nails, forcing my mom to give me a haircut, some light online shopping, making my own face mask, using a bath bomb, creating my own exfoliating scrub, using nose strips to unclog my pores, and putting together outfits that aren’t just sweatpants and a sweatshirt. However, self-care can also apply to how you maintain your environment. If you want to have a clear head, maybe try cleaning your room or your desk space. Organize the folders on your computer or update your calendar. It might seem insignificant, but when you feel good on the outside, it often reflects on the inside.

Journaling or FaceTiming friends: One thing I learned in college is the benefit of journaling. When you’re experiencing a lot of emotions or negative thoughts, something that really helps is to write them down. It is a healthy, mature way to deal with difficult situations, and I highly recommend giving it a try. FaceTiming friends is another way to deal with social isolation. They are going through the same thing that you are going through, so giving them a call could be very beneficial for both of you.

Get into nature: Something that has helped me significantly during social distancing has been getting into nature. Whether it is jogging around the lake at a reservation in my town or hiking up a mountain, getting outdoors is a definite mood changer. I have found that nature is the only aspect of my life right now that has remained constant during this hectic time, and simply being around it has been really beneficial and peaceful. I sometimes like to listen to podcasts while I hike, specifically ones that have a positive message. The other day on my hike, I listened to a podcast about Tom Hanks and all the kindness he spreads. This was really uplifting and a great start to my day.

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One Last Note…

Social isolating during a global pandemic is not the way college students expected to spend their last weeks of school. Many even complained that it is unnecessary, despite all the research proving how social distancing can significantly slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus and save lives. My generation places far too much value in the opinions of others and it has led to the spread of a disorder called “the fear of missing out” (FOMO). It is so important to be able to live independently and enjoy your own company, because being able to spend time alone means that you are comfortable with yourself and mature enough to take on the real world. So turn this negative situation into an opportunity for individual growth. Do the compassionate thing and help slow down the spread of the disease, and you will help yourself in the process.   

Photos from Facebook, Pixaby and Staff