How to pass the time productively during your coronavirus self-quarantine

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Welcome to Hell, everybody. Where the uneducated members of society panic and the unprepared are forced to wipe their asses with dryer sheets. Trade in your ball caps for surgical masks and make sure to give everyone a high five with your elbow. Screw the environment, just as long as that old guy at brunch keeps his coughing to himself.

As of March 11, COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, has officially been labelled a pandemic. Frightening, I know. But what is even scarier is how we, as a society, have reacted to it. 

The sheer ignorance of our population, unfortunately, doesn’t even surprise me anymore. I often wonder if we’ve lost all common sense. We’re at a time in our society where validated statistics take a backseat to homogenized media and false, generalized narratives. That is what frightens me. 

It is completely nonsensical to hoard a year’s worth of toilet paper for a virus that by no means causes uncontrollable diarrhea.

But before getting started with this article, here are some statistics about COVID-19 so that everyone can relax a little: only about one in five people who catch the virus will need hospital care. About 80 per cent of people recover without needing medical attention. 

This virus tends mostly to affect older adults as well as people who have preexisting health conditions. The best way to avoid catching it is to simply wash your hands regularly, which you should already be doing.

And no, your dog cannot catch it.

Thanks to COVID-19, students are now forced to self-quarantine themselves, isolated from an already anxious society. Classes have been moved online, sports have been postponed and Avril Lavigne even cancelled her tour. This is serious business.

It’s important to stay occupied, distracted even, during these uncertain times. Keep your minds sharp and avoid that ever-comforting state of mental oblivion. It’s surprisingly easy to lose motivation and drive during long periods of isolation. It’s almost instinctual to do nothing more than binge watch old episodes of Boy Meets World while wolfing down whatever old snacks you can find.

Take this time to better yourself. Quarantine is not an excuse to abandon all responsibility but is, rather, an opportunity to dedicate yourself to something. Don’t consider this a waste of time and most importantly don’t treat it as such. Be productive, be engaged, refuse to conform to those false narratives. 

Here are a few of my ideas on how not to kill time, but fill it:

Read

Author Matt Haig said it best: the only way to travel through time is through reading. I think right now, more than ever, we could use a little time travel in our lives.

Reading has been the only thing that seems to calm or distract me from my chronic anxiety. It takes me out of my own reality as I suddenly begin to identify with protagonists I find eerily similar to myself. Worries and concerns that refuse to quiet all of a sudden are lost within the pages of a good book.

Read Emily Dickinson. No one knows more about love and life than Emily Dickinson. Read Matt Haig, the only author I would follow into the depths of hell. Read Davis Sedaris, the only comic who can truly pull off a joke about airplane food. 

Read about people. I have felt more earnest sympathy for the fictitious characters of a clever mind than anyone I’ve ever shaken hands with. Sure, that might sound a little callous – but I believe it speaks to the power and influence of reading. 

There’s depth to a novel that one simply can’t find in a movie. Even the worst book I’ve ever read beats the entertainment value of my favourite movie (sorry, Matt Damon). 

Books are how we escape, how we learn to be human in a world that’s slowly convincing us not to be. Books remind us how to love and how to hurt, how to feel empathy and pain; real, genuine pain.

Unplug yourself. Disconnect for a few hours and fall in love with a novel. You’d be surprised how well it works.

Learn Something

Broadening your intellect has never hurt anyone – except maybe hypochondriacs. 

Pick up a skill. Teach yourself something. In the age of the internet, learning takes no more effort than simply unlocking your phone. Pick up that guitar you’ve mentally labelled an accessory and practice some scales. Crack those knuckles and start working on learning the alphabet in ASL. I couldn’t think of a better way to get carpal tunnel.

You’ll have a lot of downtime – don’t waste it. It’s easy to burn through an hour senselessly watching underage teens on TikTok dance to songs you would otherwise hate. Dedicate yourself to something. Broaden your knowledge rather than spending your entire day playing iPhone games, pretending you know the rules to Mancala. 

Stay Active

Isolation is not a synonym for hibernation. Your quarantine is no excuse not to exercise. Physical fitness increases the number of endorphins our body produces and effectively increases that feeling of joy and happiness. 

Multiple studies have shown that exercise boosts mood, lowers blood pressure, aids in sleeping and strengthens our immune systems. We simply can’t afford to forfeit these things for the next three weeks. It’s important to find time and strategies to stay physically active.

Lift weights, go for a jog, run up and down the stairs for all I care. Do something to get your body moving. 

Although it is definitely advisable to enforce social distancing, by no means does that require you to flee to your bunker. Live your life, but with some caution. Talk to friends, go for runs, have a beer, get high. Just wash your damn hands.

Don’t get me wrong, isolation is not fun. Socializing becomes difficult, employment hours are cut short, everyone has to listen to lectures from their mothers. It’s miserable if we let it be. 

All I’m saying is try and make the best out of a crummy situation. Stay occupied and stay productive. Don’t let the fear of a virus stop you from functioning.

And remember, if Tom Hanks can handle it, so can you.


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