Third time lucky? A Cambridge Student guide to self-isolation after lockdown three

Finger’s crossed that you don’t have to use it!

With students returning to Cambridge facing isolation until a negative test, and the easing of lockdown possibly leading to higher case rates, self-isolation may be on our minds again. We really hope that the term ahead is filled with freedom and negative tests, but better safe than sorry.

So, here’s a guide to managing isolation from a seasoned isolator (and touch wood we don’t have to use it!)

1. Don’t panic

Yes, you’ve probably never been restricted to your room before. But it’s just a few days- ten at most. Ten days out of the many thousands that you will likely live. You’ve got this.

There are some great online resources for guided meditation, and we’ve also already tested some of the university-recommended mindfulness exercises. There are also a number of great apps that you can download for free such as Calm and Headspace. Finally, don’t be afraid to reach to the mental health support systems in Cambridge.

2. Set up your space

Seeing as your room is going to be your home for the foreseeable future, you might as well make it as avant-garde as possible. Why not make your room feel completely new by rearranging your furniture? Line up your plants in height order? or better yet going on an online shopping spree? (with no one to talk to I can’t think of a better time to buy some sea monkeys)

I would also suggest creating a clear division throughout your work/ sleep/ relax areas. This could entail making your bed every day so that you don’t feel take a nap mid-study, or moving your desk and chair as far away from your bed as possible.

Prepare for plants to be your only friends for the next few weeks (Photo credits: Author’s own)

3. Structure is key

In a time of instability, give yourself structure. Checklists and to-do lists can be a saviour in isolation. Each morning, or the night before, I would recommend writing out your day including breaks, mealtimes and time for exercise and calls with friends. That way, your days will be busy, and you can feel productive ticking off activities (does anyone else sometimes write down things they’ve already done just to tick something?)

DO NOT forget to plan what you’re going to do post-iso as well. Fill that week of freedom with as much fun as possible. Here are some great ideas to get you started.

Cringey motivational messages. Check. (Photo credits: Author’s own)

4. Give yourself a break

The Cambridge workload is no joke. But being trapped inside with limited human contact and possibly Covid-19 symptoms, is the definition of being allowed to give yourself a break. Definitely let your supervisors know that you’re in isolation. Then evaluate yourself: it’s perfectly fine to take a break from work completely, ask your supervisor for a reduced workload or ditching that piece of reading.

What you need is the main priority here. In 50 years’ time are you going to remember that essay deadline you once missed? or the fact that you made isolation (during that global pandemic) manageable?

5. Get creative

Your time is in your own hands now and you can do whatever you like (and no one is around to judge you for it). A few suggestions include fort making, a series of inaccurate portraits, learning how to juggle and inventive drinking games.

Personally, I work best when I change up which room I’m working in, so it’s safe to say I was trying out all sorts of sitting positions in my room. I can personally recommend sitting on the floor with a laptop on a chair.

Why not capture the isolation roller-coaster? (Photo credits: Author’s own)

6. Stay in contact

Humans crave other humans- it’s been proven. If you’re allowed to mingle with your household then make the most of it with movie nights and drinking games. And if you’re isolating alone line up so many facetimes that you’ll feel bored of your friends.

If you’re craving human touch, I would also recommend getting a hot water bottle or self-hugging.

7. Exercise

Exercise is your friend in isolation. There are plenty of home workouts all over the internet and if that doesn’t take your fancy, why not try and walk/run 5k just pacing up and down your room?

And I can’t stress enough that if you’re allowed to go outside for exercise- get yourself that fresh air.

8. Get some light

Vitamin D should not be skimped. Rather than turn into a nocturnal animal, make sure that you sit at your window at least once a day so you can feel the sun on your face, rather than turn into a nocturnal animal. If your room is really dark, then there are LEDs that you can buy which mimic sunlight. If that fails, why not collect all the lamps in the room into a circle and bask in their warmth.

Added bonus that it makes studying look like a cult (Photo credits: Author’s own)

9. Dress yourself up

What better way to make yourself feel better than by playing dress up? One day you can look as if you’re attending a May Ball (2022 anyone?), and the next you can go full Emo-Goth mode. At any rate, just getting out of those pyjamas will get you feeling more focused.

What I wouldn’t give for a May Ball right now (Photo credits: Author’s own)

10. Wash your laundry

If there’s anything that we learnt from Michaelmas, it’s that Cambridge students like doing their laundry when coming out of isolation. So get out, be free, and congratulations on making through a global pandemic!

Isolation is not fun or easy, but if you make it through it, you can make it through anything. And when you do get out, we’ll see you on the other side.

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Feature image credits: Author’s own