Stefanie Schaffer, of Rutland, talks about how she has been coping with self-isolation and dealing with the pandemic.

How are you handling self-isolation?For the most part, I have been handling self-isolation very well. It has been a welcome break to the craziness of the life I had before this all began. Of course, there are days when the reality of what is going on in this world sinks in, and combined with the restlessness that grows from life being put on hold, that makes your heart ache for all of those that have been directly impacted by this virus and makes you wish for the “normal” days. Most days, I feel good, but there are times where you find yourself anxious and asking that question: “Is life ever going to back to how we once knew it?”

What has been the biggest challenge for you?The biggest challenges for me were felt the most in the earlier days of this self-isolation. These were in the days where the weather was colder and cloudier, and you felt as though you couldn’t even escape to sit outside. This made me feel more trapped and made life feel more depressing. I have also struggled to make sure I maintain some form of a routine, and make sure I am still taking care of my health – both physical and mental. It’s been important to me that I don’t let these odd life circumstances take away from all the work I have put into my physical recovery from the injuries I sustained in 2018. It was a challenge to not allow myself to get swallowed by the fear and uncertainty that I am sure we have all felt during this, and still focus on myself and what I could do, rather than what I can’t do.

What has been the most pleasant surprise?The most pleasant surprise about all of this has been that after some adjustments at the beginning I began to find myself actually doing more, and working harder, than I might have before. I think I had gotten complacent with my routine before all of this, and didn’t put in enough of my own extra work in my spare time that I could have, in regards to balancing writing for my upcoming novel, doing physical therapy, taking care of my doctor’s appointments, and spending time with family. During all of this I have been able to spend more simple and quiet time with my family. My sister has been doing online high school, so I was able to watch first-hand the young woman she has become — one that is hard-working and talented. My time with my family is no longer spent running from one medical appointment to the next, but is spent gardening or cooking or an extra long phone call. I think we’ve all grown even closer than we were before, and now appreciate each other, and what each one of us does, more than we might have if we hadn’t all been through this quarantine together.

How much of what you’re doing do you think will you carry forward after the pandemic?What I hope I can carry with me after all of this is putting in effort to recreate these moments with my family. I hope I continue to make sure we keep some down time, rather than cramming in as many appointments as we can each day. I hope to be able to keep creating a balance between working at my physical recovery and also ensuring we find time and activities to simply enjoy life. Before this quarantine, all of my family and my time and effort went into just my physical health, my recovery and keeping up with all of my many medical appointments. I see now that we had been running ourselves into the ground. I think this shutdown was a much needed reminder that life needs to be about more than just surviving and working to meet goals, but there needs to be some simplicity, some quietness and maybe even time for all of us to just do nothing … and not feel bad about that, either.

And what do you feel the lessons will be that come out of all of this?I think all of this will teach us many lessons to carry forward. I think we will see how important it is to slow down and appreciate all that you have around you. As we have seen, everything in life is fragile and seemingly connected. We have to treat everyone and everything around us, from our friends and family, local businesses, and even our planet with care and respect.

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