For What It’s Worth

Advice on COVID-19, Shelby says goodbye to column readers


Q: I’m starting to get restless in quarantine. What are some ways that I can keep myself active while at home?

You are certainly not alone. Though all of this unexpected time at home or alone may give us a bit of cabin fever, it can also serve as the perfect opportunity to do things we haven’t always had time for in the past.

Think of all the at-home to-dos you’ve been putting on the back-burner. Some may be cleaning or organizational tasks — sorting through stacks of papers, giving away unworn clothing, cleaning spaces that usually go unnoticed. These tasks aren’t necessarily fun, but they can be a good way to let off steam and feel productive. You may also have a few to-dos, however, that are things you genuinely want to do but just haven’t got around to — binge-watching a 10-season show, learning how to play an instrument, practicing art. In unusual times like these, I encourage you to take advantage of the time that’s been given to you and get started on that to-do list! There has never been a better time to deep clean your bathroom or read the Harry Potter series.

Fresh air and exercise are also great ways to reduce restlessness at home. We’re fortunate this year to have beautiful spring weather, so step outside and refresh yourself with the warm breeze. Going on a neighborhood walk for even thirty minutes a day can help you feel more connected outside of your home and maintain healthy exercise. If you’re wary of traveling beyond the yard, there are plenty of videos on YouTube that offer free workout or movement classes. And if all else fails, just learn a ton of TikTok dances!

Remind yourself that this is temporary. Feeling like this quarantine will never end can be difficult and draining. Try to keep in mind that although the future is unknown, this pandemic is a season of life that will pass. There are millions of people all over the world trying to make sure we return to a safe, connected, and free environment as soon as possible.

Q: My family isn’t used to spending so much time at home together. How can I survive quarantine without getting into daily disputes?

People with conflict-ridden households have been on my heart during this time of quarantine. Though you may not come from an abusive household, please be reaching out to any people you know who have an unstable or chaotic home life. People often use school or other social situations as a way to escape and relax. With those environments taken from them, I worry about their emotional health and well-being. Shoot them a text or give them a quick FaceTime call to see how they’re doing.

In any family, though, it’s normal for the occasional conflict to arise; living in close quarters only increases the likelihood of this. Try to find a place where you can be alone when the household seems tense. Whatever you need to do to remove yourself from the situation — spend time in your room, take a long bath, put in earbuds. Feeling isolated can bring out the worst in people. We feel irritable and stir-crazy, and sometimes we take it out on those around us.

For adults, this pandemic can be especially stressful. In the same way that you may be frustrated with online classes or the inability to see your friends, your parents are also frustrated with this lifestyle change. Realize that they’re unable to maintain their routine, aspects of their job may be up in the air, and even going to the grocery store has become a risky task. Most of their stress has likely little to do with you. We’re all trying to get through this together, and we may look back and realize that this is the most time we’ve spent with our family in years.

Since you’re not alone in quarantine, try to initiate enjoyable experiences with the people in your household. Watching movies together, picking up curbside delivery from a local restaurant, or even playing games are great ways to socialize and bond during this time. If you have younger siblings, try to recognize how restless they’re likely feeling and play with them. Play is cathartic and helpful for children; you may even have fun yourself!

Q: How can I help others during this crisis?

I love that question. It’s easy to get wrapped up in your own concern for health and safety, but there are many people who could use a hand right now. The simplest way you can help others is by staying in contact with them. It’s easy to get lonely when you’re at home all day, so reaching out to others can help both of you feel connected. Don’t hesitate to reach out to friends and family via FaceTime calls, texting, phone calls, Skype, Discord, Zoom, or whatever else. People want to hear from you. Help others by being present, first and foremost.

In reaching out to others, ask them if there’s anything they need. This is especially important for working parents, the elderly, and those with a compromised immune system. Many parents who are unable to work from home are struggling to find childcare for their newly “homeschooled” children. If you know a family that might be in this circumstance, reach out and see if you can help keep an eye on children or get things done around the house. For the elderly and those with a compromised immune system, offer to pick up prescriptions or groceries for them. Even simple tasks like these can prove fatal for them if they come in contact with a person who is positive for COVID-19. As teenagers with strong, healthy immune systems, we’re in the position to help look out for our community.

Those also affected by this pandemic are local shops and restaurants. While the national chains are likely to survive the drastic drop in sales, local businesses are suffering. Many restaurants are offering curbside pick-up to help lessen this drop; I encourage you to support these restaurants by picking up from them whenever possible. Many businesses are also offering unique means of purchasing — you can buy online or purchase gift cards for future use. It’s important that we try to support the people in our community whose jobs are not online-friendly.

Q: What made you want to start an advice column?

As this is my final column before graduating, I thought it’d be fitting to finally answer this question. I received it in my first wave of student questions back in 2018, but I knew I wanted to wait until the last quarter of my senior year to answer it.

When I was a staff writer for the Tiger during my sophomore year, I knew that I wanted to write an advice column for the paper. The paper didn’t have one, and it’s something I knew I’d feel natural writing. I’ve always been someone my friends turn to for advice, and it brings me a lot of joy to feel needed and helpful in the lives of others. Since I wasn’t yet an editor, I decided that it wasn’t my place to request an entirely new column for myself. Come junior year, I told my advisor what I planned on doing and she loved the idea. She even encouraged her Journalism I students to submit questions online for me to answer.

I didn’t expect a lot from these student questions. I was expecting a lot of joke responses and a few sincere ones. Upon the first wave of questions, I was immediately proven wrong. I received countless heartbreaking questions about stress, relationships, loneliness. I also received ones that I never quite got around to: “How do I know my skincare routine is right for me?” and “I’m addicted to Juuling. What do I do when Juuls are banned?” I was overwhelmed and honored to have been given a glimpse into the concerns of students at my school. After that day, I knew what I was doing was of some importance.

Although my column — located on the last few pages of our quarterly paper — is not easy to find, I’ve still received glowing feedback from loyal readers of our newspaper. I’ve had people thank me for the advice I’ve given in response to a question, or tell me that they’ve never thought of things in that perspective. It meant so much to me to not only early that my column was read, but that it was appreciated.

I count this column as one of my greatest successes in my high school career. Although I may have had other achievements more recognized or well-esteemed, this is what has brought me the most purpose. I thank the students who were willing to share their heart with me, and the educators and family who encouraged my work. For what it’s worth, you all are the true writers of this column.