What Does Self-Isolation Mean for Students?

Wondering how to self-isolate properly, and what to do in the process? We've got you covered.

Self-isolation can be pretty tough. And if, as a student, you're wondering how to cope, then you're not alone. Should you go to university? Should you go home? More importantly, how can you survive self-isolating?!

Try not to let all the worrying news about coronavirus get to you too much. We've put together some ways you can reduce your chance of catching the virus, and avoid going stir-crazy in the process.


Hygiene

The general advice from the NHS around hygiene is pretty straightforward: wash your hands. One of the simplest things you can do is to regularly wash your hands for 20-seconds with warm water and soap.

The COVID-19 virus spreads quickly, and does so coughing or exhaling the virus onto nearby surfaces. You can quickly become infected by touching these areas. Here are some quick and easy tips to reduce your risk of infection:

  • Clean surfaces down every time you use them, and avoid touching anything until they’re spick and span
  • Use different towels to everyone in your house, and have a dedicated towel for hand drying

In shared accommodation, it’s natural for things to get a bit messy. Everyone can be guilty for sometimes not doing their bit, so at a time like this it’s critical to stay on top of things.


Housemates

For some of us, the thought of being stuck in a house with our housemates for two weeks is enough to drive us insane. If someone hasn’t been cleaning their dishes, or pulling their weight with cleaning, being cooped up together can give you serious cabin fever.

The government has given us these tips when it comes to distancing yourself from housemates:

  • Avoid sleeping in a common area during the 14-day period and don’t share a bed with others
  • Keep the time you spend in shared places to a minimum, like bathrooms, sitting rooms and kitchens. Be sure to well ventilate all your rooms
  • For the kitchen-sharers amongst you, try not to cook at the same time and take your dinners into your bedrooms

It doesn’t matter if you’re living with your best mates, being stuck with them for a couple of weeks can be a challenge. Staying strong, sticking together and helping each other as much as possible will give you the best chance of not feeling cramped up inside.


Letting agents

Landlords are aware that it's pretty tough at the moment. We spoke to Phil Greaves from Student Key Housing for the inside scoop on what landlords and letting agents are doing to help. He said: "We’re looking at what we can do to make sure that if our tenants are self-isolating, they’re getting everything they need. This includes ensuring that everything is safe, and any major issues are quickly resolved." So don't be afraid to contact your landlord if needed.

Phil said: "We know it’s a really difficult time for students at the moment. The best thing we can do is regularly check in with everyone when we can, and make sure they’re aware of all the support out there.

"Thankfully, communities across the country are doing their bit to make sure everyone is well looked after, as well as the universities, but we’re doing everything we can to make sure our tenants are safe." 

If you're worried about your current finances, or struggling mentally, reach out to your housemates and letting agents, as we're always here to help.


Healthcare

One of the simplest tricks to fighting any kind of virus is to make sure your body is in good health. Be sure to get in plenty of fruit and veg, as eating healthy is the best way to boost the immune system.

Otherwise, fighting mild symptoms means plenty of rest, Lemsip, hot drinks and paracetamol (not to mention staying away from housemates in a bid to prevent further infection).


Mental health

Although self-isolation restricts non-essential travel, getting fresh air and exercise will help keep you sane. Exercise helps our bodies release any tension, so if you have the option to get outside and move, make sure you take advantage of it as much as possible. 

Being stuck inside all day will no doubt impact your mental health, regardless of whether you already suffer from any issues. Keeping in touch with friends and family will help you feel connected to the outside world and, with support, they can help you keep your spirits up. Everybody is in the same boat, so it’s important to lookout for each other and embed yourself into the community spirit. 

Helpers across all different communities are already setting up ways to support each other, from doing food trips to supplying each other with art material to keep busy with. It's worth following the #ViralKindness campaign on Twitter, which gives you a great platform to offer help to one another, in any way possible.


Money

Surviving on a student budget can be hard enough, without this extra hassle. Tesco’s basic noodles, nights out, rent, bills, books, transport and everything else normally comes into a pretty strict budget plan. However, surviving self-isolation might actually save you a few pennies, as nights out remain off the table.

As restaurants, bars, pubs and other businesses close down, it would be hard not to worry about your income. Having that extra finance to help with bills, food and general living is always useful. Despite times getting harder, sites like UniDays continue to offer discounts. If you're struggling, or need some financial advice, MoneySavingExpert is always a great place to look.

If rent payments are on your mind, then you should speak to your landlord to discuss your concerns as soon as you can as the government have announced some emergency legislation to support private renters and landlords affected by coronavirus. 


Studying

Many unis across the country have already closed their doors, so everyone can take a nice breather from lectures and seminars. Other unis have stopped all lab work, face-to-face tutorials and group work. Some tutors will be giving their lectures virtually, and access to campus material will still be available. But, for those with exams, essays or dissertations coming up, and potentially no libraries to study in, how can you stay motivated to study?


The biggest trick is to NOT procrastinate! With all the time at home, it would be easy to pop on Netflix and think ‘I’ll do it later’. However, at some point things will go back to normal, so staying on top of your studies is vital. Create a timetable to ensure you have dedicated time to study, as this will give you a good head start (and keep you away from binge watching...)

Make sure you stay up-to-date with your classmates. Everyone has a different way of studying, but it will give you a good opportunity to bounce ideas off each other and knuckle down.


Food

If you’ve had to self-isolate with the store cupboards looking bare, don’t panic! Thankfully, UberEats and Just Eat are still delivering, with Deliveroo even offering free delivery! So if there’s nothing on hand, you can still get some good grub in. Just make sure that the drivers drop the food off outside your front door to avoid direct contact.

As much as we might like it, unfortunately it’s impractical to live on takeout. Not only will 14 days’ worth of takeaway hit the bank balance, it’s often not the kind of food that boosts your immune system. Friends, family and volunteers are always around to get the essentials, and food shops, making sure that those in need don’t go without. There are plenty of easy recipes you can get stuck into, even with the basics of pasta, rice, noodles and a bit of tomato sauce! Take a look at a few recommendations.


At a time like this, the best thing you can do is follow the government's advice, stick together (not literally), and try to support everyone around you as much as possible. Then, grab a beer and wait for all this to blow over!



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