The Self-Isolation Survival Guide

I can’t say that I’ve yet had to experience self-isolation at Uni, but for those that are having to, freshers especially, we are thinking of you and hopefully this article will be of some consolation!

Like everyone else I struggled through the mind numbingly boring months of lock down, however, I’m going to base this guide around some of the things I did in my more recent two weeks of self-isolation. As I live in France, I had to self-isolate for two weeks upon returning to University and being convinced I had exhausted my list of new, creative things to do it was looking pretty bleak. However, needs must, and I found ways to amuse myself and maybe some of the students currently self-isolating may be able to find some inspiration in what I write.

  1. 1. Get dressed and do a little something with your day

    Bristol working from home scene

    Sadly, boredom is far from the only thing we have to deal with when self-isolating, I often found myself feeling super demotivated and kind of just letting the days go to waste, so I thought I’d start this off with a few tips on how to avoid that happening too often. I found, both during lockdown and the last time I self-isolated, that getting up and getting dressed and ready for the day can be super helpful. It is so easy just let the days waste away, I mean I even went through a phase of trying to sleep in as long as I could just so the days would go by quicker, but needless to say that was not one of my best ideas. Now you’re going to say: ‘Yes brilliant - but what am I meant to do once I’m up?’ Well, I usually found it useful to write up a little list of things I wanted to achieve during the day. Before you panic, I’m not talking about a crazy full to-do list, but more just a few easy tasks you want to get done. You can even add on fun things like watching an episode of a series you’re watching or something, you’ll still feel like you’ve achieved something either way. Having said this, I feel there was such a pressure to be super productive and start 1000 cool new hobbies during lockdown that it definitely got overwhelming at some points. So I guess what I’m trying to say is make the most of this extra free time but also don’t burn yourself out, it’s more than acceptable to have days where you just don’t feel like doing anything!

  2. 2. Make time to chill

    Mug of black coffee next to woman reading a book

    With Uni starting again and tutors pilling on the workload it’s easy to feel stressed and overrun; this is where my second point should come in handy. It’s so important to set ourselves some time aside to just chill out and wind down. Everyone has their different ways of doing this, whether it’s yoga or something arty like painting. Personally, I quite like doing something that despite being separate to academic work doesn’t completely kill my productivity. For me, that is watching YouTube, and more particularly watching study tube and university related content. Whilst some people probably can’t think of anything worse, I would urge you to give it a try. It’s easy to watch and a nice way to chill out while still being super motivating. Two of my faves are Nayna Florence, who promotes a sustainable lifestyle and makes super cute content and Jack Edwards, who is funny and just tells it how it is.

    However, if YouTube isn’t your thing, then maybe reading is? With an English degree especially I find it so hard to find time to motivate myself to read stuff that isn’t for my degree, even though I love reading more than anything. If you often feel like me, then maybe what you need is just a good set of recommendations to set you off? If so, you’re in the right place. Now, obviously this will not cater to everyone’s tastes, but I will try to include a variety of genres and subjects. So, if it’s a bit of light romance you’re looking for then I’d say go for anything by Cecelia Ahern, she’s brilliant and has brought us some amazing rom coms, such as Love, Rosie. If it’s a bit of feminism and self-love advice you’re craving than please read Florence Given’s Women Don’t Owe You Pretty, it’s honestly revolutionary and just what you need if you’re feeling a bit down about yourself. Or maybe it’s time to get into something completely different, branch out and read something that you wouldn’t normally pick up. I’m usually all about romances but during my isolation I got into dystopian novels and read Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and George Orwell’s 1984. As for those of you who maybe haven’t found reading that enjoyable in the past, I’ve always thought that people who don’t like to read just haven’t found the type of book for them yet, and you might think ‘well that’s rubbish’ but maybe it might be worth another go?

  3. 3. Begin future planning

    Journal opened to September

    Having to self-isolate is never fun, I’m sure we can all agree on that point. But what if instead of focusing on the present which might be looking, well, really quite dull, we focused on the future? I’m making this sound like it’s some ground-breaking idea, it’s really not. My point is that there are so many things to look forward to once your self-isolation is over, and even more importantly once this is all over. Make plans, give yourself something to look forward to! This could be something as simple as going for coffee with a friend, or something further in the future like planning a trip somewhere. Hell, even make career plans! Sometimes I feel like we’re all so caught up in our degrees and uni life that we don’t even get the chance to think about what’s going to come afterwards. And I know, that post-uni plans are something that students tend to push to the back of their minds because, well, quite frankly it can be terrifying to think about, but maybe we need to start seeing it as something that’s exciting. I appreciate it may be hard to get into that sort of head space when self-isolating but just think of it like this, you could do anything, and I mean anything, after uni, so surely that’s exciting? I certainly think it is, and I’m saying that as someone who has absolutely no idea what they want to do after they graduate!

Last of all, I am aware that self-isolation is a lot harder than some people may expect and by no means are these suggestions going to completely remedy that, but if anything, maybe just hold onto the thought that right now you are doing something amazing, you are protecting others and people are so grateful to you for it! Don’t despair, better times are just around the corner.