• Rose Smith

Article: Life In Isolation with Covid: A 2022 Survival Guide

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In 2022, while the specter of covid is alive and well, it has certainly loosened its grasp on the broad culture for the most part. There are still signs in some businesses recommending masking, but certainly many local restrictions have lifted. In the past month, venues even stopped requiring masks and vaccine cards to see shows. Offices were starting to ask people to come back at least a couple times a week. Of course everyone knows covid still exists, but we’re no longer at a point which all manners of entertainment and outings have creaked to a stop. However, it’s still as possible as ever to catch Covid, and after years of deftly avoiding it, it my time had finally come.

For a little background, I should say that I am vaccinated and boosted, and if I had to self-rate myself on the caution scale, I would put myself somewhere in the middle. I have always masked myself where a store or the law has asked me to do so, so as local guidelines have loosened, so have my personal guidelines. I do like to go out quite a bit, especially to concerts, and I’ve followed their protocols as they’ve shifted over time. All I can say is that I’ve simply been following recommendations as they’ve come up.

While I can’t particularly prove exactly when I was infected (since I do not have germ-o-vision), I can at least guess that it was likely on the night of a weekday concert I went to, since two of my friends who came with me also ended up testing positive. I didn’t have any symptoms until about 3 days after the event, but it just came up as a sore throat and extremely mild sinus congestion at first. I had honestly thought I had seasonal allergies (which makes sense given that Spring is in full bloom in Boston right now). I had even bought some allergy medicine from my supermarket, thinking nothing of the possibility of Covid. Not that I thought I was invincible from it, but I figured it wouldn’t actually happen to me at this point.

I think what hit me the hardest was probably a mixture of loneliness and frustration. It was almost worse getting covid now because the fear of missing out felt more real. Back in 2020 and the lion’s share of 2021, if you were stuck inside, it didn’t feel as big of a deal because everyone was stuck there with you. There were times where I got really mad at the situation—I at first thought I was going to be in isolation for only a couple days, and then I would be out in the world in no time. However, I was still testing positive into day 8. There were times in quarantine that I felt like I was never going to get out of there, even though time was certainly passing. I came to miss my friends and family. Sure, I was missing events too, but by the end, it wasn’t just wanting to go somewhere, it was wanting to go out. However, I did end up getting through quarantine, and I ended up learning a lot from my experience to keep myself sane.

I think one of the first things you need to do is reach out to friends. I am lucky to have a great network of people to reach out to (as well a couple of friends who also had covid at the time) so I made sure to message them and keep in touch. I think a lot of people feel almost self conscious about reaching out to others, like they feel like they’re bothering the people they love. I can assure you that isn’t the case. Keeping that kind of human connection is crucial to feeling you aren’t alone. That kind of human connection isn’t the same as physically being with someone, but in isolation, that is your best option.

Another important tip is to maintain a semblance of a routine. One of the first things I did after getting up in the morning was put on street clothes and get ready for the day, even if I wasn’t going to be seeing another person. Having that kind of regularity really keeps you feeling human. I also showered at night every day to maintain that sense of routine. Meals can be important too. If you are the type that eats breakfast, lunch, and dinner, keep up with that. One thing about being stuck in the same rooms is that time starts to flow into itself. Day and night can start to blur into each other very quickly, and to keep yourself from going crazy, be sure to keep that routine going.

Now, starting in isolation, I first leaned really heavily into watching tv on my laptop. I probably watched at least 12-24 hours worth of content through my whole isolation tenure. That said, part of the way through, it felt like my brain and eyes were just going to fall out of my head. I started turning to different kinds of ways to engage myself. I started to study more for the GRE math subject test (a standardized test you take in preparation for applying to graduate school) I was due to take in a couple months. I also read for the first time in a long time. I read Dopamine Nation, a psychology nonfiction book by Dr. Anna Lembke. I had been carrying the book for months and constantly putting off starting it, and in isolation, I ended up reading it all in one day. Being able to switch to a different kind of activity was really healing. I also ended up getting a bunch of pent-up creativity. I started writing a short Dungeons and Dragons campaign to play with friends after quarantine. For a long time, I had been thinking about coming up with a story, since I had never been an actual dungeon master before—only a player, and I don’t think I would have been able to really sit down and write a campaign without having that isolation to really gather my thoughts. Switching gears and doing different activities really got me out of my head and gave variety to some of the monotony of simply consuming media on a screen.

One thing to remember about isolation is that it isn’t forever, no matter how long it feels. While covid has no longer put the world on a total hold, it’s still possible to catch it, and if you do, it can mean up to ten days of full isolation. Outside of physical health, it’s important to keep your mental health in check too, because the frustration and loneliness can really set in. Strategies like engaging with creative passions, reaching out to friends, and keeping a routine can go a long way. You’ll be out before you know it ready to take on the world.

Rose Smith is the blog editor of Twenty-two Twenty-eight. When she isn’t writing about the world around her, she is often found listening to music, watching movies, and going on walks with her dogs.

You can find her on Instagram here and on Twitter here.