Blog Post for April: Quarantine Quandaries by John Bailey and Matthew Gip

Fifteen Opportunities You Should Be Taking Advantage Of Now

By John Bailey

From the Editor:

John works in the Information Technology industry where his office is in his home. His clients include the FBI, Drug Enforcement Agency, and the Center for Missing Children. In 2016, John presented a TEDX speech about using innovation to solve challenges. John also enjoys being a competitive ballroom dancer and working with Project Rise to help blind students successfully transition to college.

I realized that something was wrong when I spent over 30 minutes on Amazon Prime hunched in my chair before the tv looking through nearly a hundred movie descriptions trying to find the one that would make me happy. Or, at least, distract me for a while. It was then that I realized that if I wanted to improve my mood, I would have to take a much more active role in making it happen.

I think the term "disruptive" seriously understates how the virus and the lockdown is affecting us. Given the predictions that this altered way of life may continue till 2022, it can seriously affect everyone's physical and emotional health even if you don't catch the virus.

According to references in the article COVID lockdown is the world's biggest psychological experiment, people who are quarantined are very likely to develop a wide range of symptoms of psychological stress and disorder, including low mood, insomnia, stress, anxiety, anger, irritability, emotional exhaustion, depression and post-traumatic stress symptoms."

We all need to start thinking of this time as a time of personal and professional enrichment. The time saved not commuting and staying home in the evenings can be used not only to keep you healthy, but can assist you to enrich your life and prepare you for great things for when the lockdown is over.

There is no shortage of information available on the Internet that you can use right away to start your time of enrichment. It just takes a bit of effort in the beginning to stop thinking of what we don't have and start enriching what we do have.

Below are a list of 15 activities you can start right now that will keep you physically and mentally healthy, prepared for the future, and make you happy.

  1. Plan out your day-- Having something to look forward to every day adds certainty and a lift to your spirits. Plan regular activities at specific times during your day.
  2. Organize your closet -- There was never time to clean out your closet of all the old things you never plan to wear again. That was true till now. A good rule is that if you haven't worn it in a year, bag it up for donation.
  3. Learn to play an instrument -- This is one I am doing myself. I have chosen to learn guitar. I have always dreamed of being a guitar hero. And, now that I have the time to practice a few minutes a day, I should be able to jam in a band when the lockdown is over. In a TED talk entitled The first 20 hours -- how to learn anything by Josh Kaufman, Josh pointed out that if you just want to strum along to any recent pop hit, you only need to learn 5 or so guitar chords. I decided that I can learn that.
  4. Update your resume-- The bad news is that jobs will be very competitive after the lockdown. The good news is that you can stand out (in a good way) if you are prepared for employment. Work on your resume remembering to include all the volunteer and learning opportunities you took advantage of during this time.
  5. Brush up on your Braille-- Like most skills, reading and writing Braille can become stale if you don't practice. Now is a great time to take 30 minutes a day to strengthen the skill that can really benefit you.
  6. Improve your mobility skills-- Sure the streets and sidewalks are almost empty. What a great opportunity for those nervous about traveling outside with a long white cane to practice what you have learned about crossing streets and finding addresses.
  7. Get fit--It is way too easy to stay sedentary during the lockdown. You can avoid the weight gain and negative feelings about yourself by starting an exercise program. Just exercise for 10 minutes a day for a weak till you get used to it. Gradually add more time exercising as you get fit.
  8. Do some gardening-- Find an excuse for getting outside in the sun. Whether it is planting flowers or growing container herbs, including a change of scenery can always get you motivated.
  9. Get in contact with old friends and family-- Been thinking of some old relationships from elementary school or from the old neighborhood lately? Use the internet to get back in touch with them. See what they are up too and share your experiences. You will probably spend a lot of time laughing about the old times.
  10. Learn to code--Interested in a career as a computer programmer and wondering how you can get into the business? There are lots of code schools on the internet you can utilize. As a coder myself, these are the skills I suggest learning in order to be ready for when you land that first programming job. HTML is how to make basic web pages. Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is how to make those web pages look great. JavaScript is how you make web pages smart. Did you know that phone apps are written in JavaScript? Visit this online coding tool for free tutorials and certification testing.
  11. Join new online groups-- As Google is to search engines, Zoom is to interacting online. Search out webinars by industry leaders and attend. Learn from the best where ever they are.
  12. Write a journal--This is a good one. Take a few minutes out every day to write down your experiences and thoughts. You will be amazed at what you have forgotten when you reread it in the future. Also, your grand kids would learn from it too.
  13. Learn a language -- Now is the time to brush up on languages you learned in school or to learn a brand new one. Again, the Internet is your best friend for finding free resources. In addition, you can start a Zoom group of people with the same interest of learning the same language and you can practice together. You can even hire a fluent speaker to join you online to make suggestions and corrections.
  14. Learn to cook-- Want to really develop a skill that will enhance your life? Many people are intimidated by working in the kitchen. Take this time to learn some basic recipes. Invite your family or roommates to dinner cooked by you. Makes a big impression!
  15. Volunteer--You don't have to leave your place to help others. Volunteer to call elderly family members and others every few days to ask them how they are doing. Knowing that someone will be checking up on you to see how you are doing makes the elderly feel great. Also, this looks good on a resume.

These are just a few suggestions. There are plenty of others. Keep in mind that this situation is not permanent and that it is a great opportunity to enhance your health, attitude, and job prospects. It is what you make it!

Got other ideas not on this list? Share what you are doing to keep busy during the lockdown. Add your comments to this article so that others can learn from your experiences.



The 6,000 Push-Up Challenge

By Matthew Gip

From the Editor:

Matthew Gip lives in Minneapolis, MN. He attends Minneapolis College, where he majors in psychology,, with the goal of being a high school psychologist or a cane travel instructor. Matthew serves as the 2nd Vice President of the Minnesota Association of Blind Students. In his free time, Matthew works part time at Blind Inc.

As we all are aware, the corona virus, or COVID-19, has made its way around the world and devastated the country. We, as students, have been finding ways to keep ourselves busy and productive while practicing social distancing with activities such as watching Netflix, reading, or working out. In my case to stay busy and productive during this time of uncertainty, I am currently doing the 6,000 push-up challenge with a friend of mine to keep ourselves fit to help with both our physical and mental health. The 6,000 push-up challenge is where you begin the first day of the month doing 200 pushups, and this routine will continue every day until you hit Day 30, totaling 6,000 pushups. For more information or questions, feel free to reach out to me. If you are interested in participating, it is never too late to join in on the fun. Furthermore, here is a helpful YouTube link with more information about the challenge. I hope all of my awesome friends in the National Association of Blind Students stay safe, healthy, and productive during this time. Remember that we are so much stronger together.