Wake up. Open the computer. Work. Close the computer. Go to sleep. Repeat.
The loop. Known by many names but all yield the same meaning: living the same day every day. When looking up “how to break the loop” almost every search result is from a blog or question site from people around the world living the same phenomenon. With the pandemic still gripping California and school back in session for the spring semester, students have fallen into a never-ending cycle of monotony.
Student life nowadays feels straight out of “Groundhog Day” or “Before I Fall” without the existential crisis or life-lesson to be learned.
Mrs. Phillips, the Wellness Center Coordinator, told the Paw Print that she has experienced the loop. “At the beginning of the pandemic we [had] a three bedroom house, all were occupied by people. So I did most of my work out of my bedroom and if there was ever a time where I felt like it was a loop it was then. It was like I would get up, I would get ready to go to work, I would come downstairs and have breakfast, and I would go back up to my room. It just felt like that was all I did.”
West Ranch junior Grace Bakoo has also experienced the loop. “Right now, I just wake up, go to my classes, do homework and then go to sleep. For as easy as that sounds, it’s mentally exhausting to do the same things over and over again,” she said.
The pandemic, quarantine and lockdown were a first for most—and we’re forced to reap the consequences of it. Now that all activities and interactions have been transferred to the screen, many find themselves staring at the computers all day, and conducting all business indoors doesn’t allow much room to do things differently. Prior to quarantine, most students and teachers found idiosyncrasies throughout their days outside of their home, as each day brought a new experience.
The loop has taken a mental toll on many. Whether this quarantine improved or weakened your mental and emotional health, the overbearing presence of the loop is undeniable.
“I think my mental and emotional health has definitely declined only because I like being out of the house, and I’m drawn to adventure,” sophomore Aryah McVay reflected. “Obviously, staying at home and having the same day over again interferes with that.”
Living in this loop can be very overwhelming for students, teachers and faculty. AP Psychology and AP World History teacher Mrs. Povletich offered The Paw Print insight into a teacher’s perspective of the loop. “We, as teachers, feel the same way as the students do. It feels very monotonous,” she said. “One of the great things about teaching is that every day is so different and on Zoom it’s not. Every day isn’t different. Because there is less interaction and you’re not getting to see students’ emotions and faces, it’s not the same. We lose so much of what makes teaching so enjoyable.”
The pandemic has forced us into a lifestyle that leaves us limited to our daily activities in order to keep ourselves healthy and safe. As school has turned virtual, along with everything else, there is no choice, but to adapt to an online way of life. Though we’ve experienced the same confined daily routine for almost a year, many of us are just now recognizing how monotonous our lives feel as the one year anniversary for quarantine draws near. Luckily, we have the power to make each day special and different.
The Paw Print is here to offer some assistance during these unprecedented times. Here are some ways to step out of your cycle:
Recognize the loop: Become aware that you are in the loop through recognition of repetitive behavior and habits. This consciousness of what puts you into the loop is key to breaking the cycle.
Look outside the loop: Take away this focus and fixation on one mindset or physical routine to look outside of the little bubble of your room and computer screen. Expressing gratitude on things outside of your personal life—even something as small as the breakfast you had today or the weather outside—helps to broaden your perspective. Wellness Center Coordinator, Nancy Philips, suggests to “just get out of where you’re spending most of your time during the work day or school day to break up that space. As much as you can, break up the monotony of being in front of the screen. Even in between we have some passing time [for] you just do some wiggling.”
Take time to try out new routines, habits, systems and practices: Exposing yourself to something new every day by changing up the way you usually do something or implementing a completely new habit helps in keeping you out of a repetitive cycle. During school hours, find a new place to attend Zoom classes, whether it be another room or even outside. Mrs. Povletich advises, “When you feel yourself getting into that loop, change your environment.” She continues, “Go and do your Zoom class outside. Move into a different room. You can change your environment by redecorating or moving things around in your room. Whatever you can do to make things different is going to help quite a bit.”
Write it down: Writing down or making mental notes on the big and small things in your life that you want to change are also reminders of your presence in the loop. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center website, “Journaling helps to control symptoms and improves your mood by: Helping prioritize problems, fears, and concerns; tracking any symptoms day-to-day so that you can recognize triggers and learn ways to better control them; and [provides] an opportunity for positive self-talk and identifying negative thoughts and behavior.” Pinpointing exactly what needs to change in your life will further push you to initiate that change.
Find an outlet: Taking on activities to destress or express yourself freely may help detach your mind and body from constantly living the same day.
Though this loop may be considered an unfortunate result of the pandemic, it can serve as a reminder to step outside of your usual routine and spark creativity in your everyday life. Here at The Paw Print, we know, this loop is a challenging obstacle to overcome, but we hope our tips and tricks will assist you in breaking through your loop.
Cats, if you are feeling burdened or overwhelmed, make sure to reach out to a friend, counselor, teacher, or family member to find help. Remember you are not alone in this and be sure to take care of your physical, emotional, and mental health throughout these tough times.