Now more than ever we all need to learn to be adaptable and I’ll be the first to admit that I am terrible with change. I know my routine and I’m very reluctant to deviate. Given the choice, I will always stick to the plan and that has made everything quite tough recently. Uncertainty is probably one of my biggest fears and if now isn’t a time of uncertainty, there has never been one.
That’s not to say that adapting is impossible though and it’s a skill like any other. All it really demands is time and practice. So how have I adapted?
As I said at the start of this post, I thrive on structure and routine so, logically, the best way for me to deal with this big change was to plan out a new routine. Just because the regular one has been thrown off completely, it doesn’t mean that your days can’t have structure.
In making this new plan, I focused first on the things I can keep the same. A morning run every other day is still allowed by the government’s lockdown rules so that kept its place, and on the other days when I would normally try and head over to the gym if I was on campus, I just try and factor in some time (often in the afternoon when I find my stress peaks) to do a quick workout in my room.
I like to read a lot and I’m fortunate that that hasn’t been disrupted by at all by lockdown. I try and plan my revision into chunks and normally read in the breaks in between but often have to banish my book from my room during working time. Other than that, I always try and work until around 16:00 or 17:00 and then use my time in the evenings to cook dinner and relax.
The next key piece in my adaptability plan I have already alluded to when I said that I have to separate myself from my book when I’m trying to revise. I’m fortunate that my house isn’t too busy but there are still plenty of distractions that come from being at home 24/7 so I decided I had to optimise my work space.
I have a desk in my room which people who know me well won’t be surprised to hear is always neat and organised. I can’t start working if my room is cluttered so first job of the day, if I haven’t already sorted it the night before, is to clear any junk off of my desk and set myself up for the day. This includes getting rid of any scrap paper and removing distractions like my book or my phone from the vicinity. With that out the way, I don’t often find it too hard to put on some music and get started with work.
My next piece of advice is one that I tend to stick to anyway. Don’t check the news more than once a day.
I’m not a fan of the news at the best of times but have found myself more tempted than ever to check in these strange times. It does me no good though. It just fills me with worries about things beyond my control so I try to check on the news once a day so that I’m not being deliberately negligent and living in denial of the situation. This way, I know what I should be doing to make the difference that is within my power but don’t know all the facts and statistics which are far beyond my control.
I suppose if I was to just summarise the major changes I have made, the final one would be regarding how I have tried to remain social while social distancing.
Maybe in this area I haven’t made a big enough effort. I have gone out of my way to message all of those people that I would normally take the time in the holidays to go and catch up with but other than that I haven’t changed much. This is the main area that I plan to try and work on in the future. Everyone has been talking about the need now more than ever to find new ways to socialise virtually with video calls or even just by picking up the telephone. I should probably take more of that on board.
In summary, I suppose I’m lucky in some ways that my hobbies such as reading and exercising haven’t been affected too significantly. Putting the term, lockdown, on it though has definitely made it all feel a bit more oppressive. I’ve tried to keep as much the same as I could without slipping into denial of the fact that some changes are necessary. And I’ve tried to heed advice and focus on those areas that I can control. Avoiding a news overload has been a big help in controlling my stress and worry and trying to go over my notes and do past papers like I normally would has helped me maintain some sense of normality.
It’s a tough time for all with the uncertainty about every aspect of life. It’s important to keep working and try and achieve as well as you otherwise would but, of course, your health is more important. Try and be considerate to yourself and others around you and before you know it this will all be over.
Stay safe and here’s my favourite quote of all time to summarise the opportunity that change presents.
‘Never let a rigid itinerary discourage you from an unexpected adventure.’ – Josiah Bancroft, Senlin Ascends