COVID isolation: Young people share their stories from iso

With high COVID case numbers across Australia, it's natural to feel anxious – especially if you're uncertain as to what it feels like to have COVID or to be in isolation. From being kind to yourself and calling loved ones, to avoiding social media, these young people share what helped them get through isolation.

Image of a care package of food. In the package there is pasta packets, noodles, eggs, fruit, vegetables, and tea.

Quinn's stash of snacks dropped off by friends and family.

Quinn, 21

My household went into isolation when two of my flatmates tested positive. Before isolation, I was feeling generally pretty scared about COVID and worried about the amount of work and classes I would miss. My boyfriend and I tested negative, but we decided to isolate from each other, as well as from our flatmates, to minimise contact across our whole house. Quarantine was pretty hard, but I got used to it and actually found that I enjoyed the down time. I had been so busy before that, it was nice to have a break.

Doing things I enjoy and find fulfilling, like painting, listening to the radio, and talking to my loved ones, kept my mind active and my spirits up. We also had very supportive friends and family who dropped off snacks. Ruminating on whether I had COVID or not was unhelpful. I adopted an attitude of 'whatever happens, happens', which helped me to reduce negative thinking.

Image of Quinn and her boyfriend speaking on FaceTime. Quinn has light skin, long black hair and is smiling at the camera. Her boyfriend has light skin and curly brown hair.

Image: 'My boyfriend and I video called every day.'

My advice to others in isolation is to stay connected with your friends and family, and to share with them how you're feeling. I'd also recommend taking the time to focus on things you find fun and purposeful – making art, tidying your room, playing games, reading, or calling friends.

Tiarna, 22

Before I had to isolate, I was very worried about how my body might respond to COVID as my health hasn't been 100 per cent. I was, and still am, overwhelmed by the case numbers and by the impact they will have on those who are immunocompromised. When I found out I had COVID, I was stressed and panicked. I felt unprepared and wasn't looking forward to spending a week at home being sick and without much food.

Initially, I was really sick for a few days and in a negative headspace. Living alone made me miss the comfort of being with my family. I spent hours scrolling my phone, on social media and Tik Tok, which made me feel miserable. The week was just a blur.

Image of Tiarna, a smiling woman with light skin and dark brown hair. She is wearing all black and sitting in a chair in front of a number of colourful paintings that are leaning against a wall.

Image: Tiarna's advice for getting through isolation is to be kind to yourself.

Then my partner decided to isolate with me. Having someone to talk to really lifted my spirits! It was challenging to take care of myself when I was feeling at my worst, but simple things like a warm shower and a cuppa made me feel so much better.

My advice for others going into isolation would be to go easy on yourself, try to get out of bed, eat if you can, make yourself a nice drink, shower, and if you're feeling lonely, call a loved one or FaceTime a friend!

Aidan, 26

Image of Aidan, a young man with light skin, short black hair and a beard. He is sitting outside in nature, staring peacefully at a plant.

Image: Aidan recommends focusing your energies on the things you can control.

I've been playing it safe during the pandemic, but not because I was concerned for myself – I was more worried about spreading the virus. After one of my housemates tested positive, I tested positive too. Our initial feeling was one of surprise, but I also felt a sense of acceptance and was keen to focus on what I could control: my recovery and maintaining a positive outlook.

I did my own contact tracing, and while everyone was supportive, there were questions and startled reactions.

At first it felt stigmatising, but it gave me perspective to see that people respond to unexpected things with questions so they can understand them, and I could share my experience to help remove stigma.

COVID itself was physically no harder than other illnesses I've had. Having a routine of doing things I enjoyed (indoor exercise, reading, gaming, and chatting with friends and family) helped me to stay positive during isolation.

My housemate works in hospitality, so isolation impacted his income, which was really stressful. Through exploring his options, he accessed disaster payments. While the process took time, the payments reduced his anxiety. Sharing your feelings and asking for support (such as discussing rent reduction with your landlord) can help take the pressure off work and living situations.

My advice to anyone who may be about to go into isolation is to do your best, stay safe and know your options. Also, remember that we can't control everything, and that we can handle any situation we encounter.

Annie, 25

Selfie image of Annie sitting in a lounge room. She has light skin, blue eyes, and long blonde hair. She is smiling widely at the camera.

Image: Annie after she had recovered and was feeling positive.

After catching COVID at the start of the new year, I was pretty disappointed to know that it would mean cancelling my summer holiday plans. I went through a couple of different emotions in the first few days after testing positive. Initially, I was disappointed and felt overwhelmed, as well as a bit alienated in my own home because my parents were there but I couldn't see them face-to-face. However, I quickly realised I had to accept what had happened – it is what it is, and I can get through it. That internal strength went a long way; plus, holidays can always be rebooked.

I informed all my friends, and everyone was extremely kind and helpful. They would check in on me each day, either via Messenger or FaceTime, to keep me company. I found that doing things like keeping my room clean and fresh really helped me to maintain a positive outlook, as I think the environment we spend time in is reflected in our mood.

I ended up spending three days in bed and another four days on the couch. Giving myself permission to rest eased my stress levels. As much as I love how supportive my friends were, on some days I was too tired to respond, so taking the pressure off myself to be available to everyone all the time meant that I could focus on self-care and build up my energy.

My advice to anyone who needs to go into isolation would be to acknowledge that whatever feelings you're having are valid. We're all going to feel differently about having to isolate, and that's okay. You feel how you feel, and you don't need to justify it.

Selfie image of Annie in bed asleep. She is wearing a paper eye mask over her eyes, and a surgical mask over her mouth and nose.

Image: Annie resting during her recovery phase.

Ella, 20

Image of the view from a bedroom balcony. The view is of ocean waves at dusk.

Image: While getting COVID on holidays isn't fun, Ella felt fortunate to be isolating by the beach.

Five days before I tested positive, I became very unwell with almost every symptom of Omicron. I was away in Queensland with my partner, and we weren’t able to buy RATs or get to a testing clinic because they were all too far away and we didn’t have a car. Being far from home and not having access to tests made it really hard and scary at first. We had no idea if we were sick from contracting COVID or something else, and not knowing made us nervous and anxious. Eventually, my sister sent us RATs and we immediately tested positive.

After recovering from being extremely sick for about three days, I was okay with isolation. We didn’t have access to much, but we were in an apartment right on the beachfront, so we had amazing views. And I had my partner, which made me feel better knowing I wasn’t the only one.

Isolating is lonely and slightly scary, but it’s not the end of the world. You will be okay. You just have to take it one day at a time. Finding simple things to distract yourself with, such as drawing and colouring in, will help with the process.