COVID-19 has impacted everyone differently and has presented many challenges. However, it has also gifted us with time and an opportunity to slow down to reconnect with ourselves and others.
I’m used to constantly being on the go, especially as a busy college student, and have never been a fan of slowing down. I also have a mile-long list of projects and goals for myself but have never had the time to devote. Now, with COVID-19 forcing everyone to formulate a new workflow, I have the privilege of time to finally make some real changes in my life.
Naturally, I spent it staying up until 5am every night, sleeping in until 2pm, and eating all of my snacks out of boredom. After I took a much-needed mental break for about a week or two, I started to get antsy about being productive and decided to tackle my list of things I’ve always wanted to start. I was highly motivated, but I didn’t see many projects through or make real progress. How come, even with an abundance of time, I still wasn’t able to make a dent in my list?
Over the course of the next couple of days, I noticed how distracted I was and realized that when I lost focus for a second (even in the middle of a plank), I reached for my phone and scrolled through social media until I got bored after about 2-3 hours. So, I decided to try a social media detox to help refocus myself and deleted nearly all forms of social media off my phone including Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok.
During a time when everyone is trying to virtually stay connected, why disconnect?
Think about how many times your automatic reaction is to reach for your phone in social situations or when a conversation fizzled out or when you were surrounded by people you didn’t know. For me, I like to think I am very present and engaged but I catch myself scrolling through social media whenever I am slightly bored in any situation. So, how connected were we in person?
Through this social media detox, I wanted to challenge and rewire myself to be more present in my own life and not compare my experience to others. There were many moments that I found myself reaching for my phone and subconsciously going to where my social apps used to be… but it was instead replaced by my weather app. I won’t lie, when I wasn’t able to fall back on social media, I wasn’t sure how I was going to pass the time. Then, something weird happened; I went back to what I was working on and continued with the same amount of focus as I started with. Over time, I gained momentum as I saw the immediate benefits of being able to focus on a task without any distractions.
What were the measurable results?
I found that almost immediately I finished assignments faster, took more interest in them, and learned a lot more. With increasing time after my schoolwork, I was able to focus on the list of projects I’ve been wanting to accomplish:
- I was able to mentally motivate myself to get up and go for a run or do an at home workout (starting is half the battle) instead of pushing it off until “tomorrow” and scrolling through TikTok. After a few weeks, it has become a habit where each day I look forward to being able to work out.
- I’ve also expanded my culinary skills and have been cooking new recipes. This allows me to have fun with something new while making sure I’m fueling myself with proper nutrition and having fun while doing so.
- I’ve started learning Italian through Duolingo, (combined with making my own pasta from the above bullet point it’s a real Eat Pray Love moment).
- I’ve made an extreme amount of progress in building a professional website that I hope to launch in the near future.
- I’ve read more scripts in the past week alone than I have the entire year and feel more prepared going into a career in TV/Film. I now feel more confident having developed a skill that most of my peers have learned through on site internships.
- My conversations with people via Zoom, texts, or FaceTime have been more engaging and valuable. I find myself more present and don’t feel a need or want to scroll through twitter during an awkward silence.
- I’ve listened to audiobooks and podcasts about inspirational CEO’s and entrepreneurs and have actually absorbed their advice and wisdom instead of it playing in the background.
- I’ve also developed an appreciation for the simpler things in life. Throughout this entire social distancing period, all I’ve wanted to do was be with my friends and explore the world. While I still can’t wait until I’m able to do that again, I’ve actually enjoyed just being able to sit outside in a hammock and enjoy the air and what’s around me. It’s an interesting moment where I just feel content existing and being present in a new way.
I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy right now. Life is about perspective and how you handle what it throws at you. Whether you’re working through your laundry list of goals or simply getting much needed rest, let’s turn this time into an opportunity to make an impact and build ourselves as humans however that may be in our own narrative. With everything going on, the best we can do right now is focus on coming out on the other side changed as a nation, community, and individuals.
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