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Ottawa
Photo: Sanjida Rashid/Fulcrum
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It’s okay to be frustrated

As we enter another wave of the pandemic, I can’t help but wonder if when Katy Perry wrote “Hot N Cold,” she was actually prophesying the Ontario government’s flip-flopping guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic which would take place twelve years after the song’s release? 

I mean, probably not. But what is the current state of pandemic affairs if not Perry’s unpredictable partner that apparently sucked at communication? Was there ever a toxic ex, or was the Ontario government the one who was “hot and cold,” “yes and no,” and “up and down” all along? The proof is in the pudding, people. 

Like Perry, I’m at my wit’s end with the state of this toxic relationship. January 2022 feels tragically similar to March 2020 and without all the first pandemic fun. You know what I’m talking about, right? The whipped coffee, the fascination with Chloe Ting, the baking of bread, the pursuit of new hobbies, and some of the funniest TikToks I’ve seen. 

Whipped coffee was one of those hobbies I took up while in lockdown. Photo: Georgiana Ghitau/Fulcrum

I don’t mean to over-romanticize a tragic time that was undoubtedly difficult for everyone. Rather, I mean that people need to find new ways to cope with this recent set of closures that’s taken away a chunk of that which was keeping many afloat during a difficult time. Gyms have closed, classes have gone online, and work has become remote for many people. What little socialization, semblance of normalcy, and routine existed have dwindled indefinitely.

As heightened restrictions have come and gone, it seems I have inadvertently developed a Pandemics for Dummies handbook that I am willing to share with you all to help guide you through yet another unprecedented time. 

  1. Get moving

The recent heightened restrictions of the pandemic left me without my usual routine. Not able to go to work, class, or to the gym, it would have been easy to never leave my apartment. With cold temperatures, it’s hard to even want to. Nevertheless, gyms closed and I was back on my yoga mat in the mornings and out on several miles-long walks in below -20 degree weather in the afternoons, just to feel something. I find that this also helps to create a routine, something I crave when left at home with not much other than school breaking up my time.

  1. Find time for things that make you happy

What I enjoyed most about March 2020 is the way it gave me time to foster new hobbies. That’s when I truly got into running, cooking, baking bread, and a myriad of other fixations. Some stuck, some didn’t. I had to get rid of a pile of half embroidered fabric eventually, but I do still love to run and am constantly trying new recipes to this day. Read the books that have been collecting dust on your shelf and you may turn into a bookworm — that’s the story of how I became the world’s newest Twilight fan. I’d never seen nor read it, and then I borrowed it from my sister and read them all in just five days out of sheer boredom. Team Edward.

Rendered no option other than to spend an increased amount of time with yourself, make the most of it by trying out that which you’ve always wanted to.

  1. Stay in touch

Social distancing is (surprise) isolating. Go figure, huh? Though I’m not much of a texter, it’s important to combat these feelings of loneliness and remember that you have a support system. Similarly, the people closest to you are likely going through the same things. Aren’t we all? It is common amongst people of all ages and backgrounds to experience heightened levels of anxiety, stress, and worsened mental health during these difficult times. Make sure to prioritize yourself, but do your best to also keep your friends and family in mind.

  1. Try to avoid working in your bedroom

This may be a mere personal preference, but when forced to work from home, I avoid doing it from my room at all costs. One, because it’s near impossible to do work when my bed is just so comfortably proximate to my desk. Two, because I’d simply lose my marbles if I spent all day in the same space. If possible, I kick myself out to the available study spaces on campus or even appreciate the change of scenery that my living room offers. For me, this makes a huge difference.

I recognize that, as far as the pandemic goes, I have fared rather well in comparison to a large majority. The role of privilege in the pandemic is not lost on me, for crises are not egalitarian in the way they touch a population. Northern and remote communities continue to face astronomically priced groceries, immunocompromised individuals suffer an unprecedented risk of exposure, and social determinants of health have placed strains on already existing inequities in society causing overrepresentation of minority and low-income populations in COVID-19 statistics. 

In short, if you have made it through the pandemic healthy without having lost anyone, that’s a miracle worth being grateful for. 

Knowing that so many people are suffering in this palpable way, I feel silly for complaining from the comfort of my cushy apartment. However, when you’re following public health guidelines, getting vaccinated, and checking off all the boxes in the Pandemics for Dummies guidebook, it’s hard not to be frustrated. In fact, it is normal to be. Another person’s suffering does not negate your own. This pandemic has negatively impacted people’s lives in unique ways and if you’re struggling, that is valid.

So, if you, too, are growing stir-crazy, experiencing worsened mental health, and find your patience dwindling in this never-ending waiting game with the coronavirus, I hope that my tips might help you.