Surving self-isolation as a teen

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Year 11 were challenged to write a ‘how to’ guide on surviving self-isolation for teens. NHS COVID Director of Behaviour Change has asked for a copy of the best pieces for his team’s research and says “The ideas from them will even feed in to discussions with the Cabinet Office and No. 10.”

Well done to Nick, Dara, Lora and Sophie. Here is their work:

How to isolate without isolating your brain – Nick Frain

Isolation can be viewed as a bad and boring thing but just because you are isolated from people doesn’t mean you can’t keep your brain working. Isolation is a chance for you to try and explore your niche interests without the social expectations or judgements that you may otherwise have felt. Some people may find it weird that you are interested in the coronavirus and how it actually attacks your body but for me it has been fascinating to be able to research areas of biology that I otherwise wouldn’t have. Currently we all are experiencing the effects of this virus but why do we have to view isolation as a bad thing? Every year people go on pilgrimages and such like to further better themselves, maybe we should try to do the same. As a generation who have grown up with smartphones and games consoles maybe we can see another side to life without pressures to post about a party you went to the other week on social media. Instead look at yourself and all those little questions you ask yourself each day but never answer, I’m sure you don’t know how the computers that first landed Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon had less power than the calculators you use in class each day. How is that possible? Maybe you should research it.

You should begin by thinking of something you have always wondered about but never actually researched, these are the types of things that many people ask themselves and are brilliant for conversation. Asking yourself these questions will increase your brain activity by 75% according to a survey by Cambridge University, finding the answers will also give you a hit of dopamine due to the sense of satisfaction. Once you have a good question try and see if you have any books that could be on a similar topic, reading books on even a remotely connected topic will give you a much wider view on and a greater understanding of the topic, as well as making your English teacher very proud that you actually read.

Once you have (hopefully) read some books on the topic or been unable to find a book start to ask your family who you are isolated with about the topic, not only will this stop you losing your mind with smalltalk but it will actually help you bond as well. Children who ask their parents questions are proven to be 90% more creative than kids that don’t, this is massively down to how much more curious you feel you can be when you try to find out about things you are interested in. This gives you even more interests which you can include on your applications for places in sixth form or university, people love talking about niche topics. 

Following asking people in your household and being social, which many people may forget about being you should then use the internet. Using technology such as this as a last resort will really help to develop your metacognitive skills as having a physical experience such as reading a book or a conversation is proven to be 2x as effective as just googling for a quick answer.

Where I previously talked about reading books, if you are really finding the topic fascinating and you think you can cope with taking it further then you can even start to read papers published on it by real researchers, I have been known to do this on occasion to read about various different breakthroughs in cancer treatment. These papers often give you the real inside track on the topic and give you obscure facts which you can outsmart your siblings with.

In conclusion, during this isolation period we may be missing our friends, but you are friends with your friends presumably because you have similar interests so I implore you to find and explore new interests. Breeding this kind of curiosity will allow you to make new friends with new interests and I guarantee if you spent your summer following these steps rather than going on xbox; you’ll be ready to join your dad’s pub quiz team in no time. 

How to Survive in a Self-Isolated World – Elora Cripps

Many people are worried during this time when answers are few and far between. We are told to stay to ourselves. But what does that mean? Coronavirus is a scary concept, but you should make the most of these uncertain circumstances. Here you will find a useful, simple and easy guideline toin how us teenagers can look after ourselves during self-isolation. I, myself am unsure of what is going to happen in the future, but I am going to try my very hardest to make the most of this unusual time. We must stay positive and never forget that this strange period will come to end, and hopefully sooner rather than later!

So, What is Self-Isolation?

This is where many people are getting confused. By its very definition, self-isolation means staying indoors and completely avoiding contact with anyone who doesn’t live in the same household as you. The only people who should be “self-isolating” are those who have corona-like symptoms, have been in contact with someone with corona virus or if you are above the age of 70 (so obviously none of you)! However, even if you don’t tick any of these boxes, there is still an incredibly important thing you should be doing: social distancing. This means avoiding social situations as much as you possibly can. For example, not going to school, using public transport, or attending any other mass gatherings. 

Why Should You Do This?

 In times like these, it is extremely important to remember that there are people more vulnerable than you. If you have the mindset of “Oh I’m young, it doesn’t matter if I catch the virus. It won’t affect me and I might not even realise that I have it,” then you seriously need to think. If you are young and healthy, then yes, you could possibly have, or have had, the virus and not realised, but that doesn’t mean you can’t pass it on to others. Restricting your contact with the outside world is immensely important and can possibly save lives. Wash your hands whenever you can, avoid physical contact wherever possible, and when walking past an older person, turn your face away from theirs to help prevent them from catching the virus.

“The best cure for the body is a quiet mind”

During this time where you are alone for long periods of time, it is easy to fall into having an unhealthy mind. Of course, this is something that needs to be heavily avoided. Here are some ways to keep your head in the right place. Firstly, make sure that you don’t completely stop talking to people. Thanks to different social media platforms, and with the help of our mobile phones, it is incredibly easy to speak to people without being face to face. You can do this via skype, facetime and many more apps! Talk to your friends and family daily, and especially your grandparents, as they could be completely alone for a long time. You can also take up a new activity, for example colouring, which can be extremely relaxing and good for the mind. Personally, I enjoy sudoku, which not only helps me relax, but also makes my brain work hard. I highly recommend it. Another great way to keep your wellbeing in perfect shape is to practice meditation. You can find videos on youtube which you can follow step-by-step, or use apps like HeadSpace to help you. Yoga is also a great option. You can do this alone, or with family members, not only is this a great thing for your mental health, but it is also an amazing way to take part in physical activity (as you no longer have PE lessons at school!) which will keep your mind and body healthy. Never forget about the importance of having a healthy mind.

“Music is life. That’s why our hearts have beats”

Why not learn a musical instrument? It could be absolutely anything; piano, guitar, oboe, recorder, bassoon or the drums. Music is a perfect way to wind down in the evening. Not only is being able to play an instrument an incredibly cool skill, but it also helps you to improve academically and boost your self-esteem. During self-isolation it is extremely easy to just go on your phone or watch TV all day, but this is exactly what not to do. You should never only resort to social media when you’re bored, as this can lead to an unhealthy relationship with the internet, and can lead to addiction. However, phones can be useful in terms of learning an instrument. There are youtube videos where viewers can learn the basics of an instrument for free, and you can also have virtual lessons with a professional music teacher online. Although instruments can be expensive, they are a great investment for someone who is dedicated and has the patience to learn. It can take a while, but during self-isolation you will have a lot of free time at home, and learning an instrument is a great way to fill these slots of boredom.

“Just go outside, nature will do the rest”

Staying indoors all day every day can be very frustrating, and some people think that is all you can do at the moment, however this is not the truth. If you do stay at home all the time, you will slowly, but surely, go insane. But this can easily be avoided. During social-distancing and self-isolation, it is still very important to get outside and enjoy some fresh air. If you are just distancing, then you can still walk your dog, or walk by yourself, as long as you stay away from other people and walk in places that are lowly populated. If you are self-isolated, or in quarantine, you may be worried about having to stay inside all day everyday, but don’t fret. You can still spend time in your garden. You could either sit in the sun and read or even turn your garden into a beautiful wonderland. Fill it with flowers and trees and watch them grow right before your eyes. Plant peonies, poppies and petunias, water them if the rain doesn’t do it for you, and sit back and enjoy the marvellous creation you have made yourself. Believe me, it will not disappoint. 

“The elderly are a treasure for our society”

In times like these, it is very easy to forget about those around us, but is extremely important not to. Elderly people have been heavily encouraged to completely isolate themselves from the outside worlds, so they will be feeling very alone right now. We must remember that they will more than likely be struggling, so there is more of a reason to be helping them. Go to the shops and buy food and other essentials for your grandparents, write them a heartfelt note, buy them some flowers and leave it all on their doorstep. They will appreciate it more than you know. Although you mustn’t stay and chat, you should still show, and tell, them how much they mean to you. If your grandparents live too far away, video call them, talk to them like normal, and see how joyful they will be. As well as this, try not to forget about other elderly people in the community. They might have family who live too far away, so perhaps you could bring them some essentials. They will be so grateful and it will also make you feel better as they won’t be suffering alone. 

“To have another language is to possess a second soul”

Another great skill to work on whilst in self-isolation is learning a new language. This will not only grow your knowledge in other cultures, but will also make learning anything in any subject, easier. Being able to speak multiple languages is a skill many people aspire to have, and since you will have a lot of free time now, it is a great thing to start. It will also mean that when self-isolation is over, travelling to other countries will be very easy as you will know the native language. Perhaps learning a language that is commonly used; for example Spanish or Arabic, so you can put it to good use in many different places. 

To Finish This Off

Overall, you now have many different ways to spend your time in isolation. Just remember, this doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad situation. If you put your time to good use, you can come out the other end a better, more respectful, knowledgeable and mature person. As teenagers, this summer may feel like the worst, and although it is different from the rest, it can still be good. You just have to keep remembering that everything that you are being advised to do is for the benefit of yourself, and others. Don’t be selfish, stay at home, and try and make the best out of a bad situation.

Maybe catching antisocial sickness isn’t so bad for us – Dara Akande

The first things most people think of when they hear the words ‘social isolation’ are ‘I won’t be able to see my friends for months’ or ‘I’m going to starve to death’ or my personal favourite ‘I will die of boredom!’. Now I’m here to tell you that while you likely won’t be able to specifically meet your friends for a few weeks at the last you most certainly will not ‘die of boredom’ or ‘starve to death’ (granted someone’s done the shopping).In fact this whole situation is a rather glorious blessing in disguise, one that you were likely too absorbed by the negatives to see. But fear not you aren’t alone in being a part of these misconceptions after all a study conducted by scholars at the university of Cambridge showed that upon the outbreak of shocking news a staggering 77% of people will continually focus on the negative aspects of the situation rather than the good; but just what are the good aspects of this.

Well the first good thing to come out of this is something I’m sure all of you will be able to appreciate. Ever had those moments in time where you want to, say practice your musical instrument or improve your cooking but find yourself distracted and spend all your time playing games instead? Well this little problem can be nipped in the bud due to social isolation, now you have all the time in the world to improve your instrument playing ability or perhaps become a world class chef! Now is the perfect time to take advantage of your 24/7 confinement in your home; and according to leading experts from the University of Manchester, there is expected to be a 63% increase in people achieving personal accomplishments worldwide! Everyone else is making use of the situation, why aren’t you?

So, you don’t want to spend everyday for the next month or so practicing to become a world class chef? No matter, an even greater thing to come from social distancing is that you can build even stronger bonds with your family. Experts have calculated on average, out of the 168 hours in a week, most families will only spend 14-16 hours of that time actually getting together and building upon relationships which is heavily theorised to have been caused by long school and work hours and a general lack of every family member being together at once. However thanks to social distancing you’ll be able to get to know your family better than ever and share a good laugh and memories; and maybe even convince mum and dad to get you that new phone you wanted so bad. 

Even better than all of the above, social distancing allows for us to finally give the environment a break. Most of the time we are out in our metal pollution machines wreaking havoc but this situation allows us to give the Earth a break and let it cool off from our constant bombardment on it. Images from NASA have even shown that due to this whole situation pollution levels in China have reduced by 22%! A colossal number, especially coming from one of the world’s biggest contributors to climate change. Social distancing is not as big a burden as once thought, in fact it might just save our planet

At the end of the day it is up to each of you reading this to decide what you want to do in the vast swathes of free time you now have access to. However it is imperative that you think, you must decide whether you want to waste the blessing dropped on your lap and merely sit and complain or whether you would rather be proactive, keep healthy and save the Earth and maybe pick up a skill or two. The whole world anxiously awaits for you to make the correct choices.

A guide on staying sane during self isolation – Sophie Tallon

Self isolation may seem like hell on earth – you’re trapped inside with your family and Mcdonalds has shut down. However, self isolation may be a blessing in disguise; literal months where you’reyour in control. No more blaring alarms at 6:30, no more asking to go to the toilet and no more being told what to do andd and when you have to do it. In a weird paradox, self isolation might be a chance for a little freedom.

How to not murder your family during lockdown

Family; love them or hate them, we all have a family of some sorts. You may have two families, a dysfunctional family or your family may be your friends. First of all, you should think of a few boundaries. I refuse to participate in monopoly – squirting lemon juice in my eyes would be less painful than sitting round a table for four hours trying to negotiate with my sister. Guidelines are great; think of two or three things you are unwilling to do and then you are able to experiment with whatever new activities your family suggest. Who knows, you may even discover that your sister is relatively tolerable!

‘Glow up’ time

If you don’t know the phrase ‘glow up’ then you are probably too oldto old to be reading this. If you ever wanted to try a new look or test a new makeup technique or treat your skin, then now is the time. Have a bubble bath, do a facemask, follow a workout video; whatever you fancy. The gyms are closed, sports are off and you can’t go out with your friends so now it is more important than ever to look after yourself and not hibernate in a duvet burrito with netflix for the next month or two. Whether you want to utilise this time to look after your body and have a physical glow up, or you want to relax and refresh and have a mental glow up is entirely up to you. In fact, you have enough time to do both. However adventurous you are feeling, please don’t try and cut your own fringe! Use this time to organise yourself and work on looking after you – you deserve it!

Practise makes perfect

Now we are self isolating the excuse ‘oh, i don’t have time’ is no longer applicable. Stop procrastinating and get practising! There are no excuses. Throw a ball against a wall, practise skills, learn a new skill, draw, paint, start an art project, learn how to do a backflip, get a high score on Mmario Kart. Whatever you are passionate about now is the time to practise! Everyone who became a couch potato will be amazed at your newfounded confidence and skills. 

Learn for….fun?

Learning and fun don’t often go together, apart from in the sentence ‘learning is not fun’. But now GCSE’s are cancelled and we don’t have to regurgitate the same things over and over and over, you have time to figure out what you like to learn about. A level choices and Uni applications are right around the corner so now is the time to explore what is out there and figure out what you enjoy learning about. Learn without the confines of the GCSE syllabus, without worksheets and exams. Learn about the new, the old, the weird, the wonderful –  do an online course or read articles. Learning is more than repeating word for word what a teacher has told you. Learn for fun!

If you follow these tips there is now way you will go insane in isolation! Stay sane and have fun free from school and schedules.

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