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COVID Diaries

What self-isolation looks like in the first week
of the coronavirus emergency
By Danielle Selbee

The Alberta government has released a list of recommendations on how to self-isolate during the spread of COVID-19.

“If you need to self-isolate, follow these guidelines:

    • Stay home – do not attend work, social events or any other public gatherings.
    • Avoid close contact with other people – especially seniors and people with chronic
      conditions or compromised immune systems.
    • Watch for symptoms in yourself or family members.”

Robert Troyer-Riel found himself having to follow all of these directions, while a co-worker was being tested for the virus.

On March 13, as a precaution, Troyer-Riel’s employer sent him home to self-isolate. Luckily, the co-worker tested negative, but after schools and many businesses were closed, he chose to continue isolating, not so much out of necessity but because there was nothing else to do, he says.

He says he found that, though he normally likes being home and playing video games, being forced to do it can get old very fast.

“You miss the ability to go out and do stuff.”

From Friday to Monday he found himself doing a lot of the same things.


“TV and video games really, study a little bit. It has been difficult to focus.”

Troyer-Riel says he found that, by the end of each day, he was feeling “fuzzy” and it was hard to focus on anything.

To fight the fuzziness, he would “stand on the porch for a little bit.

“Usually to combat that you would go out and do something, but obviously can’t do that now.”

So, for the last five days, to get through the isolation, he has tried to keep himself a schedule.

“Try to get up at the normal time for school, have coffee, enjoy the morning.”

He says the mornings are good. Until lunch, he would play video games or watch TV. After lunch is nap time, and that is when the day becomes fuzzy.

“After that, then you start cycling through the same activities.”

Troyer-Riel’s advice for anyone who may find themselves stuck in this situation is to “make sure that you have a variety of stuff to do. Some work, something to feel productive. Find ways to feel productive while you’re stuck at home.”

Danielle Molenaar, Troyer-Riel’s girlfriend also found herself having to self-isolate. She says she found herself doing a lot of the same things.

“I really haven’t done anything. Did some school work, but didn’t have a lot of it. Try to not be too bored.”

Unlike her boyfriend, though, Molenaar is taking a more relaxed approach to the isolation.

“I just do whatever, usually on my laptop. I’ll try to get up and walk around sometimes.”

She does recommend finding something productive to do, even if that thing is cleaning, or what she calls “pseudo-productive” activities. Find something to do to make it feel like you’ve accomplished something.

“It’s easy to get cooped up, even if you usually stay at home.”

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