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A teen, with pink hair, sits on the couch with a dog. They’re both looking at each other. 

So, you’ve got your test results. After you read the text message from your PCR, or looked at the result from your RAT, one word stuck out: ‘POSITIVE’.

You don’t need this article to tell you it’s not easy having COVID. You’ve already read up on the signs, symptoms and scary medical stuff you’re trying not to think too much about. 

For now, you just want to get through it as best you can. That’s why we’ve put together this handy guide to help you keep your head on your shoulders while you recover.

Don’t spend all your time scrolling

To your dopamine-addicted braina long period of isolation means a long period of constantly checking your notifications. If that's how you use your time in iso, you'll probably see a bunch of posts that will make you feel jealous and sad. It could be your friends’ party photos, people on holidays, or the constant onslaught of bad world news that we have to deal with at the moment. Remember, at the end of the day, doomscrolling won’t make you feel good whilst you're isolating, sick and trying to recover.

On top of this, social media is full of information about COVID and recovering from it which is either misleading or straight up incorrect. Instead, just stick to the advice from your GP and other medical professionals in your life.

If you’re bored and fighting the urge to constantly check your phone, here’s a few other things you can try:

  • Message a friend the weirdest thing you thought today.
  • Write in a journal.
  • Put on some music and have a dance. It’s not like anyone’s going to walk in on you!
  • Go on Wikipedia and click on the ‘random article’ button.
  • Read a book.

Check out our guide to how you can cut down on your social media time.

Focus on your most meaningful social connections

Two things happen when you test positive for COVID. First, you have to isolate, which means staying away from almost everyone you know. Second, you receive messages from friends and family asking if you’re okay. Funnily enough, the second thing doesn’t really help you to cope with the first thing. 

Even though you know people are only checking up on you because they care about you, it can feel a bit overwhelming.

Think about the way you communicate online

There’s nothing wrong with leaving a few messages and emails from people outside your inner circle on ‘unread’ while you focus on staying connected with your more immediate support network. Setting boundaries like this is important for your mental health. If you find this tricky you could let people know how you’re doing in group chats you’re already in, so you don’t have to keep up so many individual conversations.

Remember to recover at a natural pace

We’ve all seen those social media posts telling us we have to ‘achieve our goals’ while we’re in isolation. As we all know, that’s just not possible for everyone, and thinking this way can make life even harder for you during isolation. 

Being isolated from other people is a real challenge. It can impact your mood, and can even change your brain’s chemistry. And that’s not even taking into account what it’s like to have to isolate while you’re also sick. 

COVID develops in strange ways. It’s common to develop new symptoms such as a cough, or fatigue or headaches up to two weeks after you first become sick. Because COVID isn’t predictable, anything you might normally do can suddenly become much harder. 

So, don’t put any pressure on yourself while you’re feeling sick to get that personal project finished or to pursue important life goals. Your health and wellbeing should be your first priority just now.

Our advice? Try to relax, and don’t worry if you aren’t being productive.

Try to find some balance

Being sick and not being able to leave your house (or maybe even room) are two things that will really shake up your lifestyle. 

The best way to find balance in your life is to stick to a routine. Get a sheet of paper or pull out your phone’s calendar, and write down what an ideal day would look like for you, giving yourself time for work or school, exercise, friends and family, hobbies and relaxation. 

One of the problems with isolating in your house or room is that your days can feel uneventful, as if one day just fades into the next. Even if you don’t perfectly stick to it, having a routine can help you avoid that by giving you some structure.

Here are a few tips to help you maintain a balanced routine while you’re isolating:

  • Try to schedule in a short period of exercise each day. This might be something as simple as doing a few jumping jacks, walking around your isolation space regularly, or doing a bit of stretching and yoga. Now’s not the time to go overboard, though: while you have COVID, there are risks to working out too much, so it’s a good idea to talk to a health professional about what’s best for you.
  • If you’ve been working or studying hard, remember to schedule in time off every day to relax. Similarly, if you’ve been watching too much Netflix, create time to do stuff that's more meaningful to you.
  • Try to find some time every day to connect with people you’re close with, either over video chat, text or a phone call.

Ask for help if you need it

While it’s becoming more common for people to have COVID, that doesn’t make the disease any less serious. So, don't feel bad about asking family and friends to help you get the food, medicine and support you need. Remember: you would – and might eventually have to – do the same for them. 

Don’t be afraid to talk to:

  • a friend or family member if you need to chat, vent or discuss what’s going on for you
  • your GP if you need help managing your symptoms, or if you have questions about how COVID might affect you
  • a mental health professional if you’ve been feeling down
  • a helpline such as Lifeline (13 11 14) or Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800) if you’re feeling distressed and need urgent help.

No matter what’s going on for you, if you’ve got COVID, things are going to be challenging for the moment. Remember to stay close to the people you care about, take some time to relax, and ask for help when you need it.

What can I do now?