MCO: 25 Ways To Spice Up Your Quarantine

Within the past 3 days of MCO, we all woke up and went from simple university students to young adults forced to fend for their lives amidst this pandemic. People are buying and stocking up 🍞 like there is no tomorrow and those with stockpiles of hand sanitizer are price gouging their products to make a buck💰 off of this pandemic.

The MCO has made all of us seem like prisoners in our own 🏠, and idle minds are the easiest way to fall into a deep hole of insanity. For those of us battling depression and anxiety, this time could be even more difficult than that of others. With little to do and assignment deadlines postponed, it can be easy to become bored. However that is not an excuse to go inside. 

The world is suffering from a pandemic, the likes of which our generation has never seen before. It is alright if you feel frustrated and confused by the sudden changes. It is alright if you feel right at home and didn’t have to make many changes. Either way, do stay inside and practice good hygiene.

I’ve compiled a list of things for you to possibly try out during this lockdown, with resources to make it easier for you to start trying those things out. At our age, our ⌚ is generally consumed by part time jobs, heavy academic workloads, societal expectations and readying ourselves for a career. It can be very difficult for us to find the time to do that project we said we’d do during our New Year’s Resolution or that online class we’ve been wanting to take to improve ourselves. Now that we have the time, here is the list:

Study and revise

Illustration of books during MCO

While it is easy to forget amidst the panic that classes will indeed possibly restart after this lockdown, we must exercise due diligence and stay on top of our academics. Create a list of all assignments, tests and quizzes you are expecting to have and begin to work on them. It’s okay to work just a little each day, you needn’t overwork yourself in a time when your body, mind and overall health need to be healthy and in good condition. A small step each day is still a step taken forwards. Create a schedule for yourself and try to set realistic goals about what you can do in a day. This is not a time for you to be stressed and panicking. Sit back, make notes on one chapter or one section or even just one lecture. You’ll get there. Don’t worry.

Read how UTM’s Top Student studies here

Take up drawing or painting

Illustration of art and brush during MCO

During this MCO, my own little brother suddenly took up drawing. He has never pursued art aside from crafts, and now he is well on his way to challenging me in sketching beautiful sceneries and landscapes. During this MCO, I have taken the liberty to draw out this list in the form of a poster. It has been a long time since I picked up my brushes, and I would love to suggest that you try to explore your inner and hidden talents. You need not create a masterpiece. Sometimes, just a memorialisation of a sunset or a beautiful clear spring sky is more than enough. If you have acrylic paints, I highly suggest following Bob Ross: The Joy of Painting. It is an amazing show for beginners and maestros alike.

Start a skincare routine

Illustration of skincare  during MCO

We all know drinking water and less stress are a good way to maintain healthy skin. However, in a time where people are panicking and stress is the only thing plaguing all our minds, it’s a good thing to wind down at the end of the day by spoiling yourself. Skincare routines can be as simple as putting on moisturiser after washing your face or as elaborate as the infamous 10-step Korean skincare routines. Yours does not need to be elaborate. A few important tips I could give you are: exfoliate no more than once or twice a week. Wash and moisturise our face regularly and make sure to use prescription dermatological products at the behest of the doctor’s advice ONLY.

Start a journal/blog

Illustration of laptop and book during MCO

During times like this, it’s easy to lose organisation of your thoughts. Start a journal, any sort of blank notebook works and pen down your thoughts. If you have a Polaroid, turn your journal into a scrapbook! If you are not the type to write things down on paper, start a blog. It could be your chronicle during this eventful period in history, one you can always go back to afterwards. The internet is the oral tradition of our generation and the thoughts you pen out today will one day be memories you can always reminisce later. 

Learn a new language

Illustration of chatboxes  during MCO

We are all required to take a foreign language elective here at UTM as part of our general education courses. However, now that classes are on hold, it is easy to fall out of practice. There are many free resources online to learn languages, and Duolingo is one of the most popular language learning apps in the world. It has 35 languages available to the public, 2 of which may satisfy your inner geek: Klingon and High Valyrian. Just set aside a few minutes each day to practice your vocabulary, diction and pronunciation. Within a few weeks, you may find yourself fluently switching between your native language and Italian. Or Norwegian. Or High Valyrian. It is all your call.

Binge on TV shows and movies

Illustration of tv and pizza, netflix and chill during MCO

MOVIE MARATHONS WRAPPED IN A BLANKET WITH FOOD AND BEVERAGES. THAT IS ALL. Do comment down below with what your favourite show/movie is, and what you would recommend for a long drawn out Netflix/HBO/TV binge. Remember to rest your eyes for a few minutes between episodes and take a long break every few episodes to ensure your eyes are not overworked. If you have glasses with blue light filters, make sure that all screen time is conducted while wearing those glasses to ensure the health and long term care of your eyes.

Get some sleep (MCO perk)

Illustration of sleeping during MCO

There are some of us who sleep in their spare time. Now is their time to shine. Sleep is always good for us, students who haven’t seen the head nor tail of healthy sleep cycles since this semester began. Make sure to catch up on some sleep during this MCO, because once classes restart, sleep will once again become a precious luxury that we can’t afford.

Discover some new tunes

Illustration of headphones

Do you have a long list of songs and music videos that you never seemed to have the time to listen? Now’s the time to let loose and listen to grooves retrowave tunes during cloudy afternoons, and following that with Vivaldi’s Four Seasons as the rains begin. What is retrowave, you ask? Now is the time to discover new genres of music as well. We are often shaped by the music we listen to as teenagers, and often find ourselves sticking to genres we are familiar with. Now is the time to actually browse through Spotify’s Explore section, look through different genres, perhaps you may find solace in a genre you never would have thought that you liked.

Exercise

Illustration of sports bottle and equipment during MCO

Just because you’re stuck at home doesn’t mean your fitness regime needs to be stopped. There are many ways to practice indoor exercise and stay in shape, especially with all the movie marathons you can have with popcorn and fried/microwaved food. Yoga is one of them, a sport to practice flexibility and it can even be done in tandem with Number 14 on our list! Scroll down to check it out! A few other amazing ways to stay fit during this time are aerobics and cardio, HIIT and dancing. All these sports require dedication, and always remember to get enough rests between workouts. Know your body’s natural limit and always stay hydrated throughout your workout!

Cooking

Illustration of cooking utensils during MCO

Now may be the time to bust out all those skills you’ve seen on Hell’s Kitchen and MasterChef. Are you the next Michelin Star chef the world will discover? If you have access to ovens and stoves, you’re quite well off for the occasion. If you live in a dorm and have access to nothing but a rice cooker and a kettle, now is your time to become creative. College students are nothing if not resourceful and trust me, that rice cooker is capable of great things. Did you know you could cook macaroni and cheese in a rice cooker? Or even make chicken curry? Comment down below if you’d like us to release recipes that can be made in dorm room ‘kitchens’!

Spend time with loved ones

Illustration of happy vegetables during MCO

Life and Death do not discriminate between the sinners and the saints, nor do they see the difference between someone who has or has not lived out their life. If you are with your loved ones, count your blessings and spend time with them. You could even do most of the items on this list with them! If you are far away from loved ones, make sure to call. A call can be the difference between feeling alone and letting your family watch you clean your dorm room and share a bag of laughs. Cherish your loved ones. 

Re-evaluate and reflect

Illustration of abstract mind

Now is the time to think. We are university students, we are accustomed to this, after all, we tend to overthink. Instead of overthinking and

Play video and board games

Illustration of games during MCO

Unfinished DLC of the Witcher 3 game? A rematch in chess that was a long time coming? Are you incapable of getting past the last boss in Dark Souls 3? Sit down and dive right into the worlds of Toussaint and Skellige, leaving the outside world forgotten. However, like number 6 above, remember to take care of your eyesight. Make sure to stretch your neck and align your back every now and then, and perform a few full body stretches every once in a while. We are all guilty of spending entire days in bed with our laptop, or at our desk with the computer, trying to figure out how to beat Dark Souls 3. You could stream your gameplay live on free platforms like Twitch and Discord too! Remember that pizza and Mountain Dew may be the food of the champions but water and homemade food are much better for your health in the long run. STAY HYDRATED!

Spring cleaning

Illustration of cleaning supplies d

When time is of surplus and you find yourself browsing through your cupboard and desk, you may find that they have gotten messy compared to the beginning of the semester. Take this time to organise all your belongings, throw out trash and clean through your furniture and suitcases. Make sure there are mothballs among your clothes, so that you can keep your clothes free of pests.

Take an online class

Illustration of PC, online class during MCO

Khan Academy, eDx, and YouTube are only 3 of countless free resources available online. If you’ve ever wondered what to do with that set of art supplies in the corner, or the book you purchased about coding, now is the time to start learning. A lot of the things on this list could be done with online learning.

Photography

Illustration of camera

Did you just purchase a new phone or camera for its specifications? Did you plan on photo shoots during the mid-semester break? Now that we are on restricted mobility, it could be easier to appreciate the smaller moments in life, like the golden rays of a dark sunset touching your hands and hot coffee mug or the droplets dripping down your window during a rainy day. Take this time to fall back in love with your own life, which is a miracle in and of itself. Take note of these passing moments, and immortalise them in your photographs.

Practice an instrument

Illustration of piano and other musical instruments

Do you play an instrument? Or have you purchased an instrument and promised to learn? YouTube and Yousician are two amazing ways to start learning music, from reading sheet music to playing solos. Soon enough, you can tell your friends that music isn’t their forte. Comment down below if you have ever studied music or played an instrument!

E-visit the Louvre

Illustration of E-Louvre during MCO

I personally know many people who were extremely upset that their mid semester break plans had been cancelled. A lot of students who had already bought the tickets and accomodation lost a lot of money as many of the refunds were too late to have been made. So while you’re confined to the four walls of your house or bedroom, you can take a trip all the way across Asia and to Europe, where you could take a digital tour of the Louvre in France. If you are up to it, perhaps later on you could e-visit the Museum of Fine Arts and many museums who have now made e-visits to their locations possible.

Meditate

Illustration of meditation

Relax. Take a guided meditation session and let your mind run free. We live in a world consumed by toxicity and negativity. For those of you fighting depression and anxiety, know that you are not alone. I recommend that you download Calm Harm and Clear Fear, two free apps in the Google play store that have been tailor made for relapses and attacks. Meditation is not just sitting in a corner while a stranger speaks under a theremin. Sometimes meditation is calling a friend and letting yourself be vulnerable. Other times, it is doing the things you are passionate about. You are not alone and please remember that suicide prevention hotlines are available to you. Take this time to slowly recover, and conquer all your adversaries, even if they may be in your own head. The bottom of the page has a picture with the numbers of Befrienders Malaysia, a group of volunteers who offer you support and someone who will listen without judgement.

Learn coding

<Hello world>

Illustration of coding

Code.org and MIT OpenCourseWare have courses on learning how to code. Computer programming is very quickly becoming an important requirement of many jobs in our rapidly evolving job market. You could go on to learn different coding languages and for all you know now, you may not be a computing student but you could still go on to release the next viral video game or mobile application. Give it a shot, you’ll never regret it. And if you are already learning coding, GitHub is your best friend. Peruse its contents to the fullest!

Watch a podcast

Illustration of podcast

When too much screen time has made your eyes watery and dry at the same time (I did warn you, folks), you can lean back and listen to podcasts. Spotify and YouTube have many podcasts about everything from politics, history and philosophy to art, music, literature and cooking. The sensory deprivation of a visual aid to go with the host’s voice can be therapeutic, as you are no longer stressing your eyes with light from the screens. (I told you so!)

Take up gardening

Illustration of gardening

This whole pandemic and its rising toll of infected cases can often feel like a loss of control of our own lives. Did you know you could have your own little garden from the vegetables you have at home? A few potatoes could turn into a pot full of them within mere months, and herbs like rosemary, thyme and oregano can be grown right at your windowsill. During a time when War, Famine, Pestilence and Death, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse have all taken over our world, it is imperative that we find our purpose in breathing new life by nurturing Mother Nature instead of warring with it. With just a few empty tin cans and a pot of soil, you could breathe life to a beautiful garden.

Learn to edit videos

Illustration of editing, youtube

I’ve probably mentioned YouTube here half a dozen times so far. If you are tired of watching videos, you could learn to create your own instead! DaVinci Resolve Project is a free video editing software with no absurd, cutthroat prices like Adobe and Ape software. It is available for a free download and its user interface is much easier to use than that other other infamous bloated programs. With a camera and this software, you are already armed to become a content creator on YouTube. You could talk about your life in the epidemic, your experiences and thoughts or anything that you are passionate about! It’s free real estate.

Explore your spirituality and philosophy

Illustration of holy books

As young adults who will shape the course of history in the years to come forth, now is an important time to explore our values, faiths and philosophies. We are the next generation of leaders and our views will shape the following generation. So what kind of values, philosophies and beliefs are we ready to pass on? Many books on philosophy are available for free online, from the works of Aristotle to the works of influential leaders today. During this MCO, Scribd has made itself completely free for one month, so go on to read all that the website has to offer, for no cost at all! This is a time when we explore who we truly are, and reading is an easy way to expand our thoughts. If you disagree with a certain philosophy or value or faith, you could try to read up on it to understand the perspective from the other side. It is always important to maintain a rational mind when discovering our true self, because culture, society and biased media always have a hand in shaping our beliefs. Remember to make sure that your sources are independent and not sociopolitically skewed.

Relax

Illustration of relaxing during MCO

We tend to forget amidst all this mass hysteria that we should take care of ourselves as well. Sit back, drink a cup of tea, coffee or whatever your favourite drink is, and remember to relax. You have time now. It’s okay to wind down and let your brain get some rest, because what good is a healthy body without a healthy mind?

If you’ve read and made it so far, thank you for sticking by me in this long article. With that, I have listed out 25 things for you to do with all the free time during this MCO. I hope this article has given you some semblance of solace amidst this mass panic and worry. Always know that it’s okay to be scared. It’s okay to put your health and that of your loved ones first. 

Above all, make sure to stay inside. If you live with your family, where there are elderly people, immunocompromised patients or newborns, you must practice extra caution. The youth in many countries said that the virus only harms people with compromised immune systems, not realising they could become carriers themselves. Always remember, even if you think you will survive the virus out real, you may have loved ones who might not be able to do so. Stay safe, happy and healthy, everyone!

[Added disclaimer: My recommendations are of my own accord and I am not sponsored by any of the brands or organisations that I have listed here in the article]

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