Roar writer Elena Siniscalco has some useful advice for those of us living in quarantine under the current social distancing regime.
As I write from my flat in Camden, looking out of the window on this cloudy day in London, I know that I’m among the lucky ones. I have been locked inside for a while: prior to the lockdown, my flatmates and I had to do a week of self-isolation because someone we knew tested positive. It appears that none of us had COVID-19, though as we reemerged from isolation, the rest of London entered it.
Still – I’m in quarantine in a house with a garden, in my best friends’ company. It seems really unfair to complain about our situation, given the global situation. But having become a somewhat quarantine-professional, I thought that instead of lying on the sofa staring at the wall, I could write about how we are coping with this unprecedented situation and how are we trying to stay safe, sound and sane.
I am quite positive I am not the only one whose phone has been invaded by adverts on how to become a yoga master or to lose x amount of kilos in 30 days. I personally find these targeted advertisements quite stressful, so I’ve been looking for fun and/or useful alternatives activities to keep myself busy. I’m sorry Instagram, but my yoga degree will have to wait.
My first advice, as ordinary as it can sound, is to pick up a book and read. And with a book, I mean a nice novel that has nothing to do with your degree. I’ve been a fervent reader of novels and poetry since I was a kid; however, from the beginning of university I’ve only managed to seriously read for pleasure during the summer holidays. I know this is a sentiment at least most of my friends share, but self-isolation is the perfect time to make adjustments. So read anything you like! If I can offer some advice, Haruki Murakami, Amos Oz, Philip Roth and C. S. Lewis will all prove extremely successful in transporting your mind outside the house for a few hours.
My second advice is quick and easy: clean. I am usually sceptical of the healing power of cleaning the house, but during quarantine, it does prove unexpectedly relaxing. Open your fridge, clean it and order it. It will free your brain and make your flatmates happy. Go through the cupboards: you wouldn’t imagine the amount of stuff you forget you have. My flatmates and I realised we have about 10 peanut butter jars, for example.
If kitchen cleaning doesn’t tickle your fancy, move to the living room and dance. Dance to music from your headphones or speakers, if you have them. It may sound like something slightly weird if you’re used to only dancing in the darkness of a club, but it will really make you feel alive again. Even if the world has stopped, it does not mean the music has. PS: Zumba is a worthy alternative.
And as a final bit of quarantine advice, give colouring a chance. Yes, I mean exactly that: the colouring you used to do when you were four. I personally haven’t touched a colouring book since childhood, but one of my flatmates has purchased The Mindfulness Colouring Book. I’ve never seen her this relaxed. In her own words, it is “very calming”. And very calming is just what we need right now.
These, I think, are my main advice for coping with the quarantine. You are welcome to follow them or to ignore them. Whatever you choose to do, try to do it with a smile. That smile might make a tiny difference for someone’s mood – be that your friends, family or yourself.