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Quarantine Qualms: an account of life in lockdown

Robin Ireland reflects on their experience of isolating with their housemates after testing positive for Covid-19.

by Robin Ireland, Second Year, English

The Croft // Robin Ireland reflects on their experience isolating with their housemates after testing positive for Covid-19.

I had been confined to my house for three days by the time I got the message. After what felt like an impossibly long time, I had my result. My three days in isolation were about to fade into insignificance  – I’d either be set free and forget all about them, or they’d seem trivial in the face of a two-week quarantine.

After I got the positive result (and having calmed myself down), my flatmates and I had a meeting about how we would approach things as a house. There are seven of us and we could’ve very much become sick of each other and of not having our own space by the end of isolation.

Life in lockdown | Epigram / Alice Proctor

It’s easy for miscommunication to cause a sour atmosphere, especially in big student houses or flats. With a second lockdown looming, it may be a wise idea to have an open and honest conversation with your housemates to make it as comfortable as possible for everyone.

One thing we did immediately was to turn our communal working area into somewhere we wanted to be, despite wishing we could be almost anywhere else. We all painted something for the wall and hung up fairy lights. With our world shrinking with a day’s notice, it proved valuable to make our remaining tiny pocket of the universe as bright and sunny as we could.

Days quickly became punctuated by very little. To provide ourselves with structure and to boost our wellbeing, my housemates and I did yoga together every day at the same time – after we’d finished our work and before dinner.

With our world shrinking with a day’s notice, it proved valuable to make our remaining tiny pocket of the universe as bright and sunny as we could

I will admit that before we started, I was sceptical and erupted with giggles during every pose. However, it soon became a highlight of my day and still is. We use Yoga with Adriene’s videos which are perfect for beginners. Taking the time to do this activity helped us to feel less static in our enforced sedentary state.

Yoga To Shift Perspective / Yoga With Adriene

I am usually a fairly active person and exercise plays a major role in maintaining my mental wellbeing. Our house has a very small garden, but by day nine, my housemates were running dizzy laps of it. I was homesick for the outside world.

One thing that helped pull me through this period was planning walks with my housemates and friends for when we were allowed out again. The first walk with my housemates, following a big night of celebratory games together the evening before, gave me a rush akin to climbing a mountain. It was a similar rush to when the ice cream that I ordered at the start of our isolation period arrived.

Personally, being organised with the ‘admin’ of isolation helped a great deal. I sunk into a state of panic after I got my result, worrying about what we would do about food and other supplies, and what would happen if someone got really ill.

Reaching out to people as soon as possible to see if they could support us and doing a group food order helped a great deal to alleviate this stress. If you are able to, get in touch with friends during this time who may need extra help.

Lockdown is a period of reflection | Epigram / Robin Ireland

With this network of support, my period of lockdown became a period of reflection, mirroring my experience earlier this year. It was not without its stresses but by making a conscious effort to improve my environment and giving myself structure – and holding myself accountable to it –the situation became liveable.

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As a second lockdown is underway, I’m definitely more prepared this time around – thanks to the first lockdown and also our period of isolation. This does not mean it will be easy, but it does mean that we have developed coping mechanisms to manage the extraordinary circumstances we are in.

As always, it is necessary to remind ourselves that this is not what our bodies and minds are used to and that we should be kind to ourselves as the pressure of lockdown descends on us.

Featured image: Epigram / Alice Proctor