Quarantine boredom is a small price to pay                         


Mairi Hughes

BEING three weeks into a COVID-19 quarantine, I can hardly remember what my normal routine feels like. Like many others, I am working from home, have tried my hand at baking banana bread, offered haircuts to everyone in my family and participated in more ‘Zoom’ video-call quizzes than I can count.

While I ordinarily live in my own flat, I moved back into my family home for the lockdown. As a friend pointed out on a FaceTime call last week, it feels reminiscent of being 14 years old, with the majority of time being spent with family and venturing out of the small town surrounding our house out of reach. Coffees and retail therapy with pals, pubs and nights out are a distant memory.

With a normal social life out of the window, having already missed the wedding of a best pal and two hen-dos, this is obviously disappointing. However having mourned the loss of the wedding, hen-dos and who knows what else to come, I am now appreciating how lucky I am.

My current ‘quarantine routine,’ which I’m well aware is likely to be the new normal for the foreseeable, has become fairly normal. This consists of working from home, sharing leisurely meals with my family, going for a run each day and dabbling in as many rogue hobbies as I can—have currently tried and tested kayaking, knitting and Zoom yoga classes.

Of course this is difficult in its own way. Living with parents as an adult and not having any real space of your own is tricky. And spending the majority of time with family can be trying. Being someone who is incredibly restless, being in the house all day every day for work is far from desirable. The potentially negative consequences of this quarantine on everyone’s mental health should certainly be recognised.

However, I am grateful that I have a comfortable place to stay with company, the luxury of being able to work home, and access to plenty of places to walk and run round about.

Flicking through the pages of Grazia this week, four powerful testimonials from NHS workers described on a human level—in a way the news cannot—just how physically and emotionally draining their jobs are just now. Isolating themselves from their families, watching people dying alone and facing a lack of the resources necessary for them to do their jobs properly. Reading these distant tales from the comfort of my own home highlighted how easy I have it.

As well as these workers, many people I know are unable to work from home, or were working for businesses that have gone under during the crisis. Besides the obvious financial strain, the lack of that little bit of normality that continuing to work provides can have a serious strain on mental health.

The elderly or those who live alone face a similar debacle. Taking up new hobbies, FaceTiming friends and going for walks is all well and good, but spending day-in, day-out in your home unable to see anyone definitely does not sit well with our gregarious nature.

So I know that the occasional boredom I am facing in quarantine is an incredible privilege and that those lucky enough to be in this position should try their best to do whatever we can to help those who are worse off just now. Whether it be making an effort to phone those who live alone, support the NHS in any way we can, or picking up essentials for those who can’t get out.

So many people across the country are doing just this, and it seems we will all help each other through this crisis.

Mairi Hughes is a Journalist and Creative Writer