By Rachel Garvey
It’s so hard to believe that it’s March already, a full year since the pandemic hit us. I remember being on my 6-o clock break at work when I heard Micheál Martin speak about the extended Level five lockdown until April 5th. My stomach dropped when I heard those words and my fellow co-workers sighed and frowned in despair. It’s been hard enough for us all, as is dealing with our workload and customers and studying on top of that. Studying and assignments on weekdays and then on the weekend we put away our books and replaced them with a name badge and a safety knife and one final touch: a mask.
Whenever I get home, I sit down for a few minutes to think. There are huge numbers of people out there who suffer from anxiety and depression and I am one of those people. I have to think about how I’m going to keep my mind busy and my wellbeing safe on my days off. For the students who share accommodation with friends, you have a major advantage, that being you have social contact in your home, but there is the difficulty of not being able to see your family members if you’re living away from home. The recent outbreak among students was quite worrying, so I genuinely hope you’re all being safe. It’s a little different for me as I live alone, and my social contacts only reach as far as those I talk to at work, but outside of work, I’m left to my own. That’s hard, really hard because not being able to see my friends or family in person is something, I thought I’d never have to experience. It’s something all of us thought we would never have to experience, but I say to myself “Rach, things are bad now, but it’s only temporary, you’re doing great!”.
We need to be there for one another, but that doesn’t mean that we have to spend every second of the day and night with our housemates, it just means that we should set aside a little time for both ourselves and other people. Perhaps, sitting around the table together having tea or coffee with a packet of your favourite biscuits or watching a film together on Netflix, you could even make it your own movie night and buy popcorn and sweets for it. We need to be able to find joy in the little things and during uncertain times like these, it should teach us to come up with ideas for creating an aura of happiness, and to give ourselves something to look forward to!
I’ve found joy in cuddling up in a blanket in my room and watching horror movies. I’ve found joy in peeking into my post box every morning to find a parcel I’ve ordered. I’ve found joy in sitting on my doorstep while it’s sunny with a cup of tea and even though I’d rather see my friends and family in person, I keep telling myself that one-day social distancing and wearing masks will be a thing of the past, a part of history that we hope won’t repeat itself.
Part of me is thinking that April is so far away, and my mind goes a tad bit crazy because I’m thinking what can I do to get by day to day? Thankfully, I have found an answer to this dilemma; daily to-do lists! Whether it’s an app on your phone or sticky notes, writing out little to-do tasks is a great way to occupy your time throughout the day, whether it be cleaning, taking a walk or setting aside time for yourself then write it down! It not only keeps your mind focused, but it keeps you from being alone with your thoughts and now is not the time for anyone to be alone with their thoughts. We all feel how big the impact is of this pandemic, but there are people out there who feel the impact on a more sensitive and emotional level, which is why we all need to be there for one another. If you can’t be there for someone in person then you’d be amazed at how much a phone call or a text message can brighten someone’s day: “Thinking of you, hope you’re doing well”.
Look out for one another and look after yourselves!