By Fiona Elisabeth Henderson
3 weeks ago I moved out of halls and back home in order to isolate with my family. I mean, the library has been shut, lectures are cancelled and most of my friends moved back too. So like lots of people, I’ve packed up my whole life to be back home while the country’s on pause. Those of us isolating with family know that this is the practical choice, but not always the easiest, so here’s some tips and advice for isolating with your family, and how to take care of your uni work and mental health.
Have a Routine
We all need a bit of structure in our lives at the best of times, when you’re living in lockdown and looking at the same 4 walls and the same 4 faces every day, you can go stir crazy.
Having a set number of things to complete in a day gives you a sense of achievement, even if it’s small. I don’t mean, paint the house or learn to play piano before lunch, just doing little things to keep normalcy going can do a lot. I personally make sure I make my bed every day, so if I’ve done nothing else, I’ve at least done that.
Eating at reasonable times is also good. I know as uni student’s we often get used to eating breakfast at 3pm, but it’s healthy to eat meals at the proper times, not just physically, mentally too.
Try to live with your family
Your family may be working from home or not, either way, make sure you’re not accidentally (or on purpose) isolating yourself from them. Talk to them, watch an episode of something with your dad, have a cup of tea with your mum, play lego or colour in with your little siblings.
Younger kids might have homework and not want to do it. As older siblings at uni we sometimes are so busy we forget how much little siblings look up to us (even if they won’t admit it), if you can sit with them and work on your thesis or dissertation while they do year 7 geography, they’ll feel more important and you’ll both get stuff done.
Since most of us are 18+ I’m assuming any older siblings have been released into the wild and are isolated at their own place but if not, you’ll have someone to talk to who might otherwise be busy, it’s okay to enjoy hanging out with your siblings.
Try to remember that how you lived at uni and how you live at home now might be very very different. It might not be okay to play your music at full volume, or talk loudly to your friends on the phone, be considerate and it’ll make everyone’s lives a lot easier.
And if you get tired being around people for a day, it doesn’t make you a bad person and it doesn’t make your family intolerable. We’re just not meant to live like this. Take some time to be by yourself, watch something YOU like and they don’t, block out the world and play animal crossing for a bit. Let yourself enjoy your own company. Then when you go back you won’t feel as boxed in.
And your family might feel like that at some point as well, it’s ok, they don’t hate you. They just need to breathe.
Working from home
Just because the term’s not happening on campus doesn’t mean it’s over. And just because assessments might have changed doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to get the best grade you possibly can. You already know what you need to do and when you need to do it.
Find a quiet place to work, your room, the kitchen table, if you’ve got a garden, try there. Talk to your family and explain how important this work is, sometimes you might need the house to be quiet. Your family wants to see you succeed, let them help you.
The same goes for lecturers, email if you have a question or even if you’re just a bit unsure. Use the online library resources, and if you’re struggling then other people will be too, there’s lots of places to reach out to.
The news these days is not good for our heads, try not to constantly check it, once a day is enough.
And mobile phones are a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, keeping in touch with friends and getting entertainment from instagram and twitter. On the other hand, constant news and people’s negative opinions. It’s about finding the right balance that you get the benefits but aren’t dragged in completely.
Take advantage of the fact you can still go for a walk or run every day, and can do this with family or by yourself. We are not trapped indoors, we just need to keep our distance.
I hope this helps a bit, and even if it doesn’t, just remember to Stay Home.