'I've managed to turn screen time into something actually quite good for me'christina o'brien for varsity

As we, together and alone, embark on a new abnormal of unspecified length and so many unknowns, it can be easy to forget the small things. From recipe tips and IG account recommendations to a quick dash of pure reassurance, members of the Varsity team give us their tips and thoughts on the unexpected predicament so many of us now share.

Screen time isn’t all bad

My screen time has gone up drastically since I’ve been social distancing. Despite my initial concerns, I’ve found this isn’t something I necessarily need to be mad about. It’s advice you will have heard time over, but set aside an hour or so to take a good look at who you’re following on your most used social media platforms.

Face-time friends over lunch who you would normally see in person around college

On Instagram, seeking out comforting content has been key. For me, this has meant a lot of food and book-related content. My new favourite pick is Florence Pugh’s Instagram: I didn’t know I needed a half-hour long vlog of Amy March making butternut squash soup in isolation, but here I am and here I intend to stay. Small steps like these have helped me feel I have a bit more control over how I interact with the world, and to turn screen time into something that has actually been quite good for me.

– Maia Wyn Davies, Associate Editor

The news doesn't need to be your only soundtrack to reality

In these times of uncertainty, the best thing I’ve done is limit my consumption of news. As someone used to catastrophising every event, mulling over worst case scenarios, the unrelenting COVID-19 news can sometimes feel overwhelming. I’ve gone from wanting to know every detail about the pandemic, to reading about it twice a day: in the morning and the evening. In the meantime, I focus on daily life — the present realities, as opposed to the future possibilities.

I focus on daily life – present realities, as opposed to future possibilities.

Isobel Bickersteth, Associate Editor

Don’t let all your days all blur into one

Try to maintain a sense of routine. It might be tempting to stay in your pjs and binge-watch Netflix — this might be nice for a few days, but it isn’t sustainable in the long run. Try to go to bed and get up at a similar time each day, shower, get dressed and have meals at regular intervals. It might be nice to FaceTime friends over lunch who you would normally see in person around college.

To make sure the days don’t all blur into one, I have started to keep a diary where I jot down what I did that day, my feelings and my plans for the next day.

– Grace Lozinski, News Correspondent

Cooking perfectly combines the mindful and the mindless

To ward off the boredom of self-isolation I’ve been working my way through a backlog of recipes I’d bookmarked over the past year (mostly Meera Sodha’s). It’s been such a source (sauce?) of joy! Cooking during term time can feel stressful and functional, so having the time to get creative in the kitchen has been a blissful escape from the gloom of BBC News.

'Getting creative in the kitchen has been a blissful escape'christina o'brien for varsity

There’s something simultaneously mindless and mindful about sticking on your favourite album/podcast and setting aside half an hour or so to make something from scratch. It doesn’t need to be particularly fancy. The internet is full of fab recipes, but I’ve found these websites particularly useful:

– Maya Yousif, Lifestyle Editor

Don’t expect too much of yourself

Allow yourself some space for self-compassion. This is far from an ordinary situation — as much as you’d like to, you might not be able carry on as normal. In spite of how it might feel, that is perfectly understandable, and trying not to feel guilty about it is the healthiest response.

The point, really, is doing what feels right for you

A lot of advice has been to keep working, to just push through, but it is also important to put your welfare first, not your work. Take time off, do things to distract yourself and give you a bit of an escape. Sometimes stopping work for a while will allow you a more clean-cut transition back into it when you feel ready to. Or try doing just a couple of hours a day at first, and build yourself up to more later if that feels less threatening. Or don’t follow my advice at all! The point, really, is doing what feels right for you.

Gabriel Humphreys, Magazine Editor

Too much ‘relaxation’ can stress you out

I’ve been spending a lot more time reading, watching films, and, supposedly, switching off. Reader, it has not been relaxing. With too little activity and a certain state of mind, I’ll simply fill a movie’s running time with distracted, pointed thoughts, coming out of my down-time the opposite of de-stressed. I (whisper it) sort of do need to be productive — I need something requiring patience, concentration and preferably my hands, to truly unwind.

If, like me, you find passive activities give you too much unwelcome head space, I recommend picking up a new technique that is mildly challenging, but contains a certain logic, a rhythm or repetition you can escape into. Hate to be that bitch with the sourdough starter, but now might be the time to get into bread-making!

– Anna Stephenson, Lifestyle Editor

Recreate a sense of immediacy

What I appreciate most about university life is the ease of friendships — being able to socialise whenever and without having to make arrangements or big time-commitments. FaceTime, Facebook video call or “Houseparty” are the easiest ways to stay in contact with people no matter where they are — perhaps for some company whilst getting work done, or for a drink over video call to momentarily forget that we are stuck at home.


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Mountain View

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Sending your friends regular picture updates allows you to stay connected while getting on with your day. I like sending pictures of what I have cooked, others of their animals or where they are currently sitting: all of these imitate the social experience of university, where we are constantly near to our friends.

Video calling and sending pictures are part of my daily routine at home, permitting me to keep my friends up-to-date on my life by giving them a glimpse into what I am seeing — making me feel as if somehow we are all still present together.

Isabel Sebode, Fashion Editor

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