May 4 2020


A Rookie’s Guide to Self-Isolated Leisure

Since we have started self-isolating, one persistent question has been plaguing most people in their quarantine: what on Earth to do with their time. Although most of us are still studying or working to a certain extent, most of the common leisure time activities have become but a mere remembrance of the better days. The physical confinement for many has become a continuous journey to overcome a more abstract emotional isolation. We are here to help you in this journey.

I strongly believe that the first step in overcoming the moral confinement is actually breaking your physical one. If you, like myself, like waking up early, then use this as an opportunity to go for a walk in your neighborhood and explore the local places that you ignored in your busyness. My experience shows that not many people are out and about at 8 in the morning, walking around their neighborhoods, making it very easy to distance yourself from the occasional dog-walkers or joggers. The benefits of such walks cannot be overstated: after half a year of living in my current apartment I have discovered a small Rotterdam-based artist district within a 10-minute walking distance. Who knows what local gems you will be able to uncover? If the thought of being fully awake and outside at 8 AM makes your skin crawl, then fear not! I bet the late evening walks are just as stimulating.

The described first step, besides being a great starter, has a great flaw: it is focused solely on yourself. Practice has shown that few things elevate a person’s morale as effectively as helping the others and participating in almost a communal support. Chances are, during your walk you have seen some local cafes and restaurants. There is a good chance that many of them still allow takeout or offer delivery. If you have the means to do so, help out your local infrastructure!

Needless to say, helping local businesses is just a part of the second step, the nature of which lies in supporting the wellbeing of your local community. With the risk of sounding banal, I still am mentioning the importance of helping the elderly and the imunnocompromised. Small acts of kindness are as important as ever!

Finally, I propose that the third step is the unwinding. The previous activities all have a certain goal, but what about the so needed aimless leisure time? Most of you have probably already seen about a hundred lists of the best films and series to watch and books to read during the self-isolation. While I love doing both of those things, I insist on the importance of doing something active instead of merely passively intaking information. When was the last time you have sculpted something from clay, played a boardgame with your loved ones (bless technology for creating digital equivalents of physical board games), or developed an unhealthy obsession with fostering houseplants? I know many people for whom this quarantine has become the time to develop the connection to their body and emotions: the level of practicing at-home yoga is at its all-time high!

Besides that, there has never been a better time to (re-)decorate your apartment. Have you been meaning to re-paint your cupboards, put up some pictures on your wall and finally fix that squeaky cabinet door for a while? Now is the time to do all of those things. While you are at it, I also invite you to pay attention to the things and clothes that you own. I am not urging anyone to do a large-scale Marie Condo-esque cleanup, but it is nice to pick out the clothes you no longer wear and the things you no longer use. That way you can donate them as soon as the quarantine is over!

The things mentioned above by no means exhaust the activities to be done during the self-isolation period. Be creative with your time and space and be conscious of your connection to the others! Now more than ever we should be aware of our actions and the effects they have on ourselves, our surroundings, and the people close to us.

Sonia Shvets - English teacher @Una Paloma Blanca Language School