As many of us decide to stay indoors over the weekend because of the coronavirus pandemic, one writer reflects on how we can make the most of self-isolation, especially when it comes to our relationships and friendships.
You’re probably reading this from the comfort of your bed or sofa, right? Although the UK isn’t on lockdown, many of us have been advised to self-isolate, while others are choosing to stay indoors.
For many, this sounds like a total dream: bingeing boxsets, snuggling up in bed with a bloody good book, staying in your PJs all day long. But for others, it can create a sense of anxiety and loneliness.
As a single woman living in a small flatshare that’s three hours away from any of my family, I am in the latter camp.
Despite showing no symptoms of coronavirus, I need to self-isolate because I was recently in contact with someone who has since tested positive for it.
But I’m here to tell you about all the small, surprising ways this strange situation has put a smile on my face over the last 48 hours − and they’re all to do with my relationships.
Things have changed in the flat since telling my flatmates I need to self-isolate: I stay in my room when they’re here, I need to clean every single thing I touch in the kitchen and bathroom, and there’s just a general tense mood that I feel responsible for.
But after five attempts to do an online food shop (none of the supermarkets are delivering in my area until next week), my flatmate told me to email her my long shopping list.
She went out, bought everything on that list – including a huge bottle of gin – and brought it all back in an Uber. Although I couldn’t even hug her to say thanks, it’s something I’m not going to forget over the coming weeks (or ever, really).
We’re all worrying about our older relatives at the moment, right? That’s why I’ve been calling my mum every night this week, to check in on her and keep her company (she lives alone). And it turns out I need the company too.
It’s made me realise that this is something I should be doing more regularly anyway: not just ringing to moan and ask for advice, but to sit down, properly listen and appreciate our relationship.
I was also on the phone to my younger sister for a solid hour last night. Usually, it’s impossible to keep her on the line for a full five minutes. I know she’d rather have been getting ready to go out with her uni friends, but she stayed on that bit longer to talk about everything and nothing.
Later on, I received a text from her, telling me to download the Scrabble app so that we can play it together.
I can’t even…
Has your WhatsApp also been pinging away even more than usual over the last week? I’m certain that each and every little pick-me-up message is what’s going to get us through this.
Two colleagues told me to – shock, horror – call them instead of texting if I wanted to hear a friendly voice. Friends who haven’t been in touch for a while have resumed old conversations with funny messages, memes and lots of emojis. One pal gave me her Amazon details so that I can rewatch Ally McBeal (don’t judge!). And I must commend the patience of everyone who is letting me live-update general self-isolation musings, my reactions to box sets and the latest coronavirus news.
Yes, it feels like WhatsApp is my new best pal at the moment. But behind every beloved instant messenger app is a hoard of fantastic female friends tapping away at their phones.
Look: I know things feel pretty grim at the moment, and self-isolating isn’t exactly a walk in the park (literally). But it’s times like this when the real strength of our friendships really does come to light. So if you’re self-isolating, or know a friend who is, one quick phone call or text could perk up an otherwise boring and lonely weekend.