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Coping in isolation: Time to Think
Coping in isolation: Time to Think

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Session 2: Life in a ‘new normal’


This is a photograph of a man standing on a balcony, playing the guitar. His neighbour looks on.
Figure 1 Man plays guitar while his neighbour watches during COVID-19 Pandemic, Turin, Italy 2020

In this second session of the course, you will consider the impact of both time and space on your experience of confinement during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic and explore ways of gaining some control and agency over your situation.

Where you live and the space you live in will significantly shape your experience of social distancing and isolation and your ways of coping during the pandemic. Some of you may be living on your own. Others may live in shared accommodation, with extended family, friends or even strangers in institutions or other group settings. You may be in a city, in a high-rise building or a flat with little or no outdoor space. Or you may be in a village or the countryside with a garden or even some land and the additional freedoms this offers. Wherever you live, and however long you are in isolation, there are inventive ways to make the most of the space you are in and the time you have.

Course co-producers and Open University graduates, Michael, a Republican ex-prisoner and David, a Loyalist ex-prisoner, draw on their past experiences of confinement to suggest strategies for living with this ‘new normal’. These include discovering your hidden strengths, structuring your time and connecting with others.

The following short film, recorded in March 2020, shows some of the ways in which people in Italy responded to confinement under COVID-19, through music and song.

Watch the film at the following link: BBC film [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

Activity 1 Reflecting on the value of community

Take a moment to reflect on your own situation.

  1. Has any act of community solidarity inspired you recently? This could be something you have taken part in, or something you saw or heard others do.
  2. Did that action change how you felt or feel or about your sense of social isolation and, if so, in what ways?
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By the end of this session, you should be able to:

  • consider ways of reframing how you think about isolation and confinement
  • reflect on the ways of regaining some control and agency
  • explore practical ways in which you can begin to structure and use your time
  • consider different ways in which you can stay connected while apart
  • know more about the experiences of Loyalist and Republican Open University students in the Maze and Long Kesh prison during the years of conflict in Northern Ireland.