Life

People Reveal Their Weirdest Self-Isolation Habits

“We organised the cutlery according to how pleasing the weight of the handles were.”
March 20, 2020, 9:00am
Weird Habits Self-Isolation COVID-19 Coronavirus 2020 VICE
All photography by Bob Foster

This article originally appeared on VICE UK.

This morning, for breakfast, I ate Super Noodles and bits of hacked off cabbage. When I spilled some on myself, laptop balanced precariously on my lap, I just looked at it and carried on. I'll wipe that off later, I thought, before getting up to do some jumps on the spot, noodles dried and stuck to my t-shirt. Later, I plan on celebrating my friend's birthday over Google Hangouts. Tomorrow, I am going to bury a pile of beetroots in the garden.

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Self-isolation – a state that, increasingly, most of us are reaching – is important in order to "flatten the curve" of the current coronavirus pandemic. However it can make us behave in really weird ways, ways that we never thought we'd behave a few weeks ago. And before freelancers pile into my mentions like "you've never wfh and it shows!” I'd counter that this is a bit weirder. The fact that you can't leave the house, not even to buy toilet roll, not even to say hi to your neighbour, is new levels of unsettling and is bound to impact people's daily routine in increasingly bizarre ways.

To that end, I spoke to a few people in self-isolation about some of the weirdest shit they've been doing since being cooped up inside.

“Every morning and evening, I run up and down the stairs five times”

I haven't been going to the gym since this all kicked off and my area's not great for running as it's a busy and polluted street, so every morning and evening I run up the stairs five times. Sometimes if I've got the energy I'll hop over the banister, then run up and hop over again. I'm a big guy so the sound this makes is probably driving my flatmates up the wall, but they're too polite to say so. It doesn't take long and it gets my blood pumping. Jake, 28.

“We organised the cutlery according to how pleasing the weight of the handles were”

As a post-dinner activity yesterday, my housemates and I decided to unpack and combine any rogue cutlery. We tipped all the cutlery out and organised it according to how pleasing the weight of the handles were. We tipped it onto a mat and then went through each one, doing that weird wobbly thing that looks like the metal is bending. I was slightly afraid of the illusion, to be honest. There were a couple of debates about whether gold forks are okay (yes) and whether we keep the pretty-yet-ironic steak knife, given that none of us eat meat. Everyone eventually became exhausted and went to bed. I washed 21 spoons and laid them out on a tea towel, and now it is today. Gia, 26.

“I've been talking to my dog… a lot”

This is probably an obvious one, but I've been talking to my dog… a lot. I used to do that anyway to a degree but now it's turned into full-on conversations. Or, one way conversations I should say. This morning I was like, “So, what does today hold in store for us, Dylan? Let me take you through the schedule” and then later I was like, “Well, well, well, what do you think of all this?” He just stares back at me blankly when I talk to him. I know he doesn't understand what I'm saying, but as I'm isolating on my own it's a comfort to have these "chats" and I think he does like me interacting with him. Rachel, 27.

“I have been dressing up most evenings”

I don't know if this counts as a habit, but my boyfriend and I have been dressing up most evenings to keep our spirits up. We'll go through various themes. Yesterday it was "Lord Byron's dinner party", today we were thinking to go full leather. Tomorrow I suggested "apocalypse chic." Have you seen that TV show The Tribe from the 1990s? Those sort of looks. We do full make-up as well, we take it very seriously. Joey, 24.

“I've completely given up eating breakfast, lunch and dinner at usual times”

I work freelance, so you'd think this isn't so different to usual, but since having to self-isolate my behaviour has changed massively. I used to have more of a routine – get up at 10AM, work throughout the day, eat at the usual times, then maybe go out in the evening and plan around my weekends. But now that meeting others is off the table, I just do stuff whenever. I've completely given up eating breakfast, lunch and dinner at usual times. Yesterday I got up at 2PM and ended up going to sleep at around 4AM after eating a chicken sandwich. As long as I meet my deadlines (which haven't dried up quite yet), it doesn't really matter when I do stuff. I should probably get into more of a routine as this goes on, but that's not happening right now. Thom, 26.

“On the 19th March, 19 things must go in a bin bag”

I've been decluttering things in accordance to the date. On the 19th March, for instance, 19 things must go either in a charity pile or bin bag. This is day four of it. I decided to do this when I flew back to the UK from visiting my mum who lives abroad and got back to find my partner self-isolating! So that gave me the motivation to finally declutter and let go of all our trinkets.

I found it pretty hard on the first two days because I add so much emotional value to the littlest of things, but then with everything going on around us, and having so much introspective time, you kind of start narrowing down the things that matter. I wanted to do it in an orderly way, so I've just decided to do this date-to-date thing. Nat, 21.

@daisythejones