Conquering Confinement

Tools to help you persist as we move toward a brighter future.

Weeks of remote learning and living can take a toll on even the strongest among us. Here are seven expert-approved tips on how you can be productive, minimize stress, feel good, and engage with others while staying safe.

Create a sanctuary for success. Having a dedicated workspace signals to your brain that you are “open for business.” As much as possible, create a calming retreat that you look forward to entering, and honor your “closing time.” If you are inclined, try using feng shui principles, and decorating with life-affirming elements such as plants, inspiring quotes, or soothing lighting.

Hydrate and detoxify. Be sure to drink plenty of water.  Good hydration helps flush toxins from the system and allows the brain function at more optimal levels, which is especially key when you’re trying to cope with new distractions in your environment.

Schedule a gym date. Give yourself a planned time-out for mental and physical health each day, with some form of movement. At-home options can include a 10 minute Qi Gong exercise, or a meditation or yoga practice available through an app or one of the many livestream classes being offered. You might also channel your inner Elaine from this Seinfeld episode, and simply dance like nobody is watching. If you’re motivated to try a new activity, remember that it’s always best to check with your doctor first.

De-stress with sensory experiences. Smelling movie theater popcorn, hearing the waves of the ocean—our senses can have a strong impact on our state of mind, so try channeling some of that natural mood-boosting power. To get started, you might create a “playlist for the pandemic” that invigorates you, helps you focus while working or studying, and relaxes you before bed. You can also invest in some aromatic essential oils—such as lavender to calm, or orange or eucalyptus to invigorate—or create your own scent using some basic elements such as orange peel or pine. Adding visual beauty to your life is also important, whether it’s by safely going for a walk and noticing spring bloom, or watching a movie set in an exotic destination that you’d like to visit one day (did you know you can watch films for free through the Pace’s Library’s affiliation with Kanopy?). This can provide “aesthetic arrest,” a term coined by Irish novelist James Joyce, to help assuage any feelings of “house arrest.”

Learn tenacity techniques. Taking time to understand your response to stress and develop coping strategies that work will serve you now, and into the future. The Pace University Counseling Center’s COVID-19 resource page is a good place to start. Other simple stress management tools to explore include Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), BodyTalk (specifically, the Cortices technique), and, if you can be outside safely, “Earthing,” the practice of touching the earth with bare feet or hands, which research has shown may improve immune response.

Write it out. Writing can be a great way to release emotions. This might be as simple as making a gratitude list, jotting down your dreams, or drafting a daily journal entry. You could also pen an old-school handwritten letter to your future self, outlining the things for which you are proud of yourself, and what you envision for your future, including fun plans. Seal your words in an envelope, and open them when confinement time is over.

Be social while distancing. Physical distancing isn’t the same as social distancing; in fact, it can make us want to be more social creatures, which we inherently are. Make a phone call, reply with kind words to social media posts of random strangers, or donate to a cause that is special to you. Pace University’s Center for Community Action has some other ways that you can give back virtually. These times are trying, but you can still open your heart, and love is contagious.