Opinion columnist Jeffrey Birch argues maintaining a healthy regimen and being purposeful about your time is crucial to boosting happiness in quarantine.


Hopefully if you’re reading this, you’re inside at home. If you’re not staying home, you’re either someone extraordinarily brave working on the ground to keep society functioning, being exploited by employers that aren’t letting you be safe, or making a selfish mistake. 

For the people that are inside for the next month at least, it’s already hard, and it’s going to get worse before it gets better. It’s stressful when every tickle in your throat makes you think you’ve somehow caught COVID-19, or the new death count gets published by every major news source—the same sources you’re constantly checking or listening to because, well, what else are you going to do?

With that in mind, I think it’s important to take this time we have and try and make the best out of it. It’s really important to take care of yourself both physically and mentally. Pigging out and playing video games or watching Netflix all day is fun for a couple of days, but eventually, you are going to have to be at least semi-functional while you’re quarantined inside.

The most vital thing to do right now is have a schedule. Unless you’re in a really weird situation, you’ve got assignments to get done and no class time to remind you to finish anything before midnight.

All of my professors have a revised schedule for at least the next two weeks. Take the time to put your school schedule on a calendar, then schedule some time each day specifically for getting work done. Be it two hours or eight, you know how much you need. No Netflix, no scrolling through Instagram, just work.

If your schoolwork for the day doesn’t take up your full time, do some laundry. Vacuum a little. Tackle that pile of dirty dishes in the sink. Doing something productive every day will help keep you sane and hopefully keep your mind off of the bad news of the hour. 

Another item to add to your daily schedule is exercise. You’ve probably always told yourself that this is the year to get in shape and you’re likely staring down more free time than you know what to do with at the moment. It doesn’t have to be anything huge, just doing some push-ups in the morning is better than nothing.

If you want something a little more interesting, there are lots of free workouts you can look up online. Alternatively, try going for a run. It gets you outside, lets you feel some sunlight and breathe fresh air and it’s a way to get out of your house that doesn’t really endanger yourself or others. The only contact you have to worry about is your shoes with the pavement.

On the topic of being healthy, trying to cook more is also something worthwhile to do with your time. Frozen meals are good, but you can’t live on those long term. Learning to cook is a valuable skill if you want to function in the real world. What better time is there to learn than when you’re locked inside with nothing else to do?

Just having one meal a day or even one meal a week where you try something new and put in a lot of effort will increase your cooking confidence and skills in a way that will hopefully last you the rest of your life.

As scary and unsure as all of this is, the quarantine can be as positive or miserable as you make it. While there are definitely things outside of our control, I think you’d be surprised by the steps that you can take to bring your life back under control, even if it’s just in small doses. Stay safe everyone.

Jeffrey Birch is a senior from Wichita studying accounting.

-Edited by Elise Lindemann