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Our new reality: What to do while you’re stuck at home during the Covid-19 event

Updated: Apr 8, 2020

David Ferrell

Artist: Stephanie Vieceli

Well, it’s happening. We’re flattening the curve. Fighting the good fight. Winning the war. Hiding at home with the lights off and the curtains drawn. Crawling on the floor like church mice and pretending no one’s home when Corona comes a-knocking.

Uni’s gone digital, the lucky among us are working out of their inboxes, and, at the emphatic suggestion of the government and health authorities, we’re all staying at home.

Beating Covid-19 by self-isolating seems like the easiest thing we’ve ever done by doing nothing. But nothing is a hard thing to do when you don’t know how long you’ll have to do it for. What can we do to fill the hours between the next Mad Max style raid on the toilet paper stash in the suburb over?

I mean, our subjects are still chugging along online, but most of us had forgotten lectures were physical events in the first place. These days if you’re not banking on a frantic week 10 catch-up, you get funny looks.

So what are we to do? Here are some suggestions from myself and your fellow Law-student hermits:

Bust open the old textbooks and do some light reading. The old FAL textbook, Laying Down the Law, actually has really interesting sections on all sorts of things about law school and the law. Maybe work on your legal problem solving (p. 577, 10th edition). Brush up on your common law history (p. 17, 10th edition). Or maybe your principles of statutory interpretation (p. 339, 10th edition). If you’re doing Admin law, this might sooner or later come in handy.

Skim read the Wattle page of that subject you haven’t looked at since you signed up for it. Couldn’t hurt to survey the field before the hard mid-sem dash. Wait— tutes didn’t start till week 4… right?

Reading! Somewhere along the way a lot of us fell out of the habit of reading for pleasure. Novels, non-fiction, whatever. Pick up those books you’ve stockpiled and finish them off once and for all. Not only will you then be able to display them unashamedly, but you’ll come out of isolation with a new developed and cultured verbiage, as logorrheic as it is circumlocutory.

Have a group study session with your friends across the magical space of the inter-webs. No, seriously. This is a surprisingly effective way to stay on-task, purposeful, and meaningfully social while stuck in the confines of our homes. I say, call up a digital DJ stream and have an isolation rave. On the subject of digital connection—

Be creative with your remote relationships! Video calls are a great way of being with people without risking infection. Ben Yates recommends reaching out to old friends. After all, everyone is a bit bored now, so take the opportunity to reconnect with people you’ve lost contact with. Andy Jin suggests a virtual wine night with the gals, a COD warzone sesh with the boiz or just binging your fav TV series together!

Streaming. Is this one even worth mentioning? This is what was keeping me at home in the first place. But for something new, Max Claessens suggests Broadway HD, a website providing 7-days of free streaming from the Broadway Theatre in NYC straight to your quarantine shelter! Gather some digital folks and watch it in parallel. Mayhaps I smell a drinking game…?

Crack open your Wattle and get working on your courses. Watch those lectures. Re-watch them to be sure. Make up a checklist and do all that reading you mourned powerlessly as it came, slid past, and went. Do some extra research even. Get to know the field. And if you’ve got some assignments coming up soon get a head start on them. Never hurts. (Whether this one was a joke or not is up to you.)

Work out at home! Many of us mourn the seemingly inevitable loss of our gym seshes. And with good reason. Regular exercise is very important for mood, mental health, and lifestyle in general. Knowing that Covid can stay active on surfaces for 9-days, we whisper a quick prayer to Zyzz and brave the risk in our Sisyphean struggle for gains. Every day is immune-system day. But there is an alternative. Exercise at home can satisfy light and heavy demands. Yoga and stretching, 10 minutes of jump-rope or star jumps, handstand pushups. Why not hop on YouTube and follow along with some old Jazzercise video from the 70s, or just check Google for what works? And if you’re a heavy lifter, don’t fret. An intense callisthenic routine could be a real surprise to the muscles— a jolt from a different kind of pressure to push them out of that plateau. Youtuber Athlean-X has just released a video workout plan for this very scenario!

Tap into your artistic side. One the easiest ways to stay engaged and driven is to have a project to occupy your mind. Something challenging and technical— a task that a lesser version of you would fail due to sloth or inattention. Try picking up the paints or a pencil and use a notebook to create a new portfolio; challenge yourself to come up with a unique style, or just generally spend some time creating.

Teach yourself something like a language or an instrument. With a daily 15-minute commitment of directed attention, it’s surprising how much you can get done. Make use of the wealth of tutorials available on the internet to pick something and learn it!

Give a go to writing as well! We spend so much time writing for other people in our degrees, why not take the time to write for ourselves? A story, a poem, a journal. If you have something to say or a topic you want to investigate why not write an article? Send it through to any of our editors at Peppercorn and we’ll be eager to see it published! From helping people to answer the question ‘which section of the Constitution are you?’ to deep diving into the academic rigour of your topic of choice, if that’s the way your energies flow, let them out!

In all seriousness, study and uni form the structure for many of our lives, and while the falling away of that structure can seem at first like a like a bit of a holiday, pretty soon it can take its toll. It’s important that we all take the pandemic measures seriously, no matter our age and supposed susceptibility. As Director-General of WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, warned us on recently, “You are not invincible, this virus could put you in hospital for weeks or even kill you. Even if you don’t get sick the choices you make about where you go could be the difference between life and death for someone else.”

But while we’re keeping ourselves and others safe by staying inside, let us work to keep ourselves safe from staying inside. If you’re ever feeling a little lost in the cavernous jungle between those same 4 walls, there are some places you can go:

For distress or immediate assistance, call the ACT Mental Health Assessment and Treatment Team on 6205 1065 or 1800 629 354 or contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

If it is an emergency, please call 000. Or for afterhours support for ANU Students and Staff you can contact the University Crisis Line (5pm-9am / 24 hours on weekends and public holidays) Phone: 1300 050 327 or SMS text 0488 884 170.

Headspace is available physically and remotely via email, phone, their website, and appointment to help with mental health and wellbeing, physical and sexual health, alcohol and other drug services, as well as work and study assistance. There’s the Canberra Headspace centre for those still in town, and for those elsewhere the nearby centres can be found on the Headspace website.

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