Students seek self-care strategies while socially isolating

Illustration by Tonesha Yazzie

Due to the current state of the world, practicing self-care has become a major topic of conversation among those self-isolating. With people being forced to stay indoors, nourishing one’s mental, spiritual and physical health has become a top priority for many.

Junior Lauren Scott said that while self-isolating can feel lonely, a change of perspective can help.

“I’m currently staying with my sister who often stays in her room all day, so initially, I felt very alone," Scott said. "Then, I saw all the articles about how those who had fallen ill didn’t get to see anyone in their final moments and that really shifted the way I was feeling."

Taking a moment to realize what one's self-isolation means and its outcomes have also given senior Cheyenne Nichols peace of mind.

Nichols said that knowing social distancing is saving lives helps her become more understanding about the situation.

“I know that ultimately, I am doing the right thing by taking steps to isolate myself even if it means there are times I feel lonely,” Nichols said.

For some, the feeling of loneliness has actually helped them grow and adapt to new situations. Senior Katie Farnsley said this has been her experience during self-isolation.

She said she has always lived with roommates and when NAU announced an online-only transition for the remainder of the semester, her roommates left and she was alone.

“It actually made me realize how uncomfortable I was with the idea of being alone," Farnsley said. "This gave me the opportunity to get comfortable in a situation I thought I'd never been in. I feel I know myself more now because I’ve gotten to spend time with just me."

Now is also a good time to get to know different facets of oneself. Scott said she has been practicing embroidery while being inside.

For her, taking up a new hobby has been a way to pass the time.

“I never thought I would learn how to do embroidery, let alone actually take it up as a hobby," Scott said. "My sister is an art major, so she had the supplies laying around and I figured why not try it."

Nichols also said staying busy has helped her during self-isolation. She decided to learn the guitar while being alone. Before self-isolating was enforced, Nichols was working on a song with her friend. Now that she has more free time, she feels inspired to play guitar and continue working on the song.

While staying busy is a good way to make this period of self-isolation go by faster, this time can also be used to slow down from the constant noise of everyday life.

“I’m actually enjoying being able to just do nothing for a while," Farnsley said. "Before this all happened, I was working constantly and now I have an excuse to just do what I want and not blame myself for feeling like I’m not doing enough. I think this time can be useful to help people realize we don't have to constantly be busy in order for our time to feel valuable."

Now is an opportunity to foster an environment to thrive, even if productivity does not look the way it used to.

For Scott, social media and Netflix have helped her through self-isolation.

“I’ve honestly spent a lot of time watching Netflix," Scott said. "My new favorite show is "Tiger King." I felt bad at first about just how much time I was spending on Netflix and social media in general, but I realized this is probably what most other people were doing, too. It's OK to spend a day in bed watching Netflix and not feel guilty about enjoying it."

While many have shamed social media in the past for its addicting and sometimes toxic nature, it has now turned into a platform for people to vent and share ideas for how they spend their time in isolation.

Farnsley said she usually tries to limit her time on social media, but lately, it's been uplifting for her.

“It’s comforting that other people are feeling the same way as me," Farnsley said. "I feel like people are becoming more empathetic for one another.”

Beyond anything else, one of the most important lessons self-isolation can teach people is that working together will help in these harsh times. Self-isolating saves lives and shows solidarity for those who are more susceptible to falling ill. Take this time to create a space where being alone is not something that makes one uncomfortable anymore. Developing new hobbies and paying attention to mental health will be a key factor in working through this.