The Incomplete Survival Guide to Structuring Your Isolation Time

Jemma is a 3rd year UBC student studying Psychology.

As a student who has gone through self-isolation (first in my university dorm for several months, as well as in a hotel room for two weeks), I can relate to the stress and of hopelessness you may have in isolation. Below are some of the tips that might be helpful for those who are currently in self-isolation at UBC, to give some structure to your days in isolation. Having routines, and built-in goals every day can help pass the time and help you feel engaged.  

Cooking at Home

Are you bored of instant food or ordering food delivery in isolation? If you have access to an equipped kitchen, cooking at home is a health-conscious and a fun activity to do. Food preparation can be oddly satisfying and watching yourself becoming more and more experienced in dealing with food materials can make one feel content and proud of themselves. I used to rush finishing my meals either in our university dining hall or in the village basement. During quarantine, learning new recipes from apps and developing my own flavouring tricks, I found much pleasure and relief out of the work in isolation.

Staying on Track with Work & Studies

It can be easy to procrastinate during self-isolation. Having a planner on your computer or phone may be helpful, or you can write your tasks out on a sheet of paper. It can be useful to outline everything you need to do in a week, to keep you on track. Remember to note the deadline beside each task, so that you can organize your priorities and not to forget any one of them, especially when you are managing multiple classes.

I tend to procrastinate A LOT, especially when I’m studying alone at home, instead of in a library where everyone else is studying beside me. One great tip to prevent procrastination: break large tasks into small and doable ones, and finish them one by one. 

Exploring new hobbies and exercises

Are you concerned about physical health while in self-isolation? There are many stay-at-home exercises available online, such as YouTube personal training videos, Nintendo exercise ring and UBC Recreation virtual programming.  If you have room available, set up a space dedicated to training and exercising, as research shows that this can can boost efficiency.

If exercise is not your jam, or if you’re feeling under the weather, try out a new hobby! My roommate bought a ukulele and tried to learn during self-isolation. Other hobbies such as painting, board games and puzzles are also good choices. Make it a goal to try something new.

It is natural to feel anxious in isolation because of the deviance from your normal daily life and activities. Above are just a few things to try to tricks to boost your mood—there are many more things you can try, and I encourage you to give them a try, or to check out the Thrive 5 for some research-informed approaches to maintaining your mental health.