Home During COVID-19

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Humans beings are, by nature, social creatures. Our biology functions through homeostasis: “[the] drive towards stability, security and adaptation to change” (Matias et al. 2020). From March 2020 onwards however, the “zoonotic disease” COVID-19 spread rapidly across the world and demanded an adaptation to a new kind of life (Suppawittaya et al. 17. 2020).

School children remained inside; adults worked from home, thousands were furloughed, and education went online. Around 4 billion people are said to have been living in social isolation at home during COVID-19 (Matias et al. 2020). When our behavioral homeostasis is disrupted, our “Reset Equilibrium Function” helps us adjust to social changes like isolation, and yet by-produces “feelings of distress, boredom, loneliness and instability” (Matias et al. 2020). Unsurprisingly, the sheer change that lockdown and the pandemic brought, led to a mass mental health decline (Renzo et al. 2020). The home confinement alone inflated the psychological toll within individuals, resulting in poor sleep; physical and social inactivity, and poor dieting (Ammar et al. 2020). A number of people reported feeling depressed (regarding the study run by Renzo et al: 61.3% reported feeling depressed), anxious (70.4%), and having an increased sense of hypochondria (46.2%) and insomnia (52.2%) (Renzo et al. 2020).

The cessation of social contact in favor of social isolation and staying home during COVID-19, ultimately led to individuals struggling to “regulate their emotions, cope with stress, and remain resilient” (Matias et al. 2020), highlighting the difficulties surrounding the ‘home’ during COVID-19.

Within this exhibit, and with the theme of ‘Home During COVID-19’, I wanted to focus on the feelings elevated by social isolation, and the experiences I had with Lockdown in tandem.


Ammar, A, et al. 2020. “Effects of home confinement on mental health and lifestyle behaviors during the COVID-19 outbreak: Insight from the “ECLB-COVID19” multi countries survey”. Biology of Sport.

Matias, T, et al. 2020. “Human Needs in COVID-19 Isolation”. Journal of Health Psychology. Vol 25.7. pg 871-882.

Renzo, D, et al. 2020. “Psychological Aspects and Eating Habits during COVID-19 Home Confinement: Results of EHLC-COVID-19 Italian Online Survey”. Nutrients. MDPI AG, 12(7), p. 2152.

Suppawittaya, P, et al. 2020. “Effects of Social Distancing, Self-Quarantine and Self-Isolation during the COVID-19 Pandemic on People’s Well Being, and How to Cope with It”. International Journal of Science and Healthcare Research. Vol 5.2. April-June 2020. pg 1-9.




Exhibit I: Textbooks and Teddy-bears

As a University Student back home during lockdown, it was difficult not to feel trapped. Most of the time during term I had a sense of independence – I lived away from home and was able to leave my proverbial childhood behind and grow into the adult of my future. COVID-19 ultimately brought that same independence and ability for growth crashing down.

For the ongoing months, a stifling co-existence developed between my adult university lifestyle versus having that same lifestyle reduced to the backdrop of my childhood bedroom; toys and all.

I found my textbooks intertwined with storybooks, and passports; bus passes, utility bills and tenancy agreements sat alongside mementos and teddy bears. It was jarring to say the least. One thing lockdown and social isolation led to was this permanent state of introspection. A constant feeling that my growth and move into adulthood was stunned formed.

As Dr Suess notoriously writes, “Oh the places you’ll go” – isolation, social regression, the kitchen, the bed, and an inability to progress from the past seem to have been the only places available alas.



Exhibit II: Dollhouse

When I thought about ‘Home during COVID-19’, the first image that came to mind was that of a doll house. From an external perspective, you can see into every room and quite literally know them inside and out – your sole focus becomes reduced to the house. As such, it seemed an apt metaphor. As aforementioned, home confinement during the pandemic was much like that for me. The home became the only world I had access to. Much like the popular phrase: “life imitates art”, the art of the doll house itself imitated the life I knew. But perhaps what is most transparent about the dollhouse in question, is that it is empty. For me, the symbolic dollhouse does not merely allude to home confinement, but also loneliness.

One thing I found about home during COVID-19, was the ever-present detachment from humanity and society. Little things I took for granted were suddenly things I missed; I longed for the bus commute, for busy highstreets, for that awkward dance you do with a stranger when neither of you seem capable of moving successfully out of the other’s path. And whilst I was incredibly lucky and fortunate to have been able to socially isolate with my family, the comforting presence they brought highlighted what I was missing. There is after all, a vast difference to ‘hanging out’ with your middle-aged, working-from-home-parents who for some reason massively got into all the boardgames you hate over lockdown, and peers your own age.

I think it is safe to say that if I ever set eyes on the boardgame ‘Catan’ again, I’m going to fit myself into a parcel box and ship myself away.




Exhibit III: Salman Toor

Salman Toor, “Dancing to Whitney” (https://www.ecosia.org/images/?q=salman%20toor%20dancing%20to%20whitney#id=A1390B3D6A1B8F21FEE8CEEFA654389A9C28369A)

Over Lockdown, with the exception of work/school, one typically had nothing to do but think, and think, and think. Like many others, I found myself turning to art and literature for a reprieve, and ultimately, I found myself inexplicably falling in love with the Pakistani artist Salman Toor.

For this exhibit entry, I wanted to showcase the two paintings: Dancing to Whitney, and The Confession. For me, Toor’s work highlighted the act of searching for human connection. And whilst I am not one to believe the foolish expression of the wealthy and popular of “we’re all in this together”, I do believe that almost everyone was simultaneously alone and yet searching for a greater connection to society and others. Toor’s paintings ultimately reminded me of that. It reminded me that although things are bleak, humanity is, and always has been, interconnected.

Salman Toor, “The Confession” (https://www.ecosia.org/images/?q=salman%20toor%20the%20confession#id=7153C7BE32D5094403A6B8871D674E8751FF1045)

Where before COVID, this could be seen through helping a stranger move their car up a hill, or, hypothetically in a very stereotypical ‘drunk-girl’ fashion, hugging a stranger at 1am on the High-street and telling them you loved them, and handfeeding them a chicken nugget for inexplainable reasons (unfortunately I am a very clingy and affectionate drunk). During COVID, humanity presented itself in different ways. For me, I found entire streets leaving books outside of their houses for strangers to collect, with notes of thanks left. When it snowed, I had strangers shouting encouragements and advice on my snowman as I built it in the High-street. In parks, I found strangers releasing their dogs briefly off their leads so people could stroke said dogs whilst socially distanced. I also, actually, finally met my neighbours after living in my house for close to five years.

As mentioned prior, lockdown was – and still to a point – remains a lonely and difficult endeavour. But as much as I hate the phrase, I suppose it is fairly apt to say that we are, in fact, at least all lonely together.




Exhibit IV:  Mirrors and Me

Miss Piggy looking into a mirror (https://www.ecosia.org/images?q=muppet%20looking%20into%20a%20mirror#id=E5C44E1EF5A9F98416A8C0C5D63D13AECE1D2263)

In the 2011 comedy film, “The Muppets”, Jason Segal and Peter Linz sung the song “Am I a Man or Am I a Muppet”, written by singer-songwriter Bret McKenzie. In it, Segal states, “I reflect on my reflection / And I ask myself the question …/… Am I a Man or am I Muppet?”. And whilst the debate into the nature of a Muppet or Man is not something I can personally relate to, the act of self-reflection is.

When one suddenly has a lot of time on their hands and cannot go anywhere or do anything to distract themselves, a lot of thinking ultimately takes place. You start to question things about yourself; and who you are, and what you like versus dislike, and who your friends are, and your relationship with your family and so on and so forth. With all the displacement in the world and society, you start to crave understanding and solidarity with what you can control; ultimately, yourself. And whilst this may not have been the experience for everyone, I did in fact, much like Miss Piggy, personally find myself looking into many metaphorical mirrors and “ask[ing] myself…question[s]”. All that being said, I suppose I should at least be thankful that I never once got to the point where I looked in the mirror and had to ask myself whether I was a “Man or a Muppet”.




Exhibit V: Online lessons

Throughout the entirety of second year and the tail end of first year, like many others my University experience was comprised of online lessons/lectures, and it feels remiss to end this exhibit without talking about such a prominent aspect of my experience with ‘Home During COVID-19’. In the attached photo, my dog Pippin rests alongside my laptop. With the amount of times she slept next to me or jumped onto my lap during lectures, I personally believe she could get us a First and probably knows more about course content than I do at this point.

To put it simply, I found online learning an incredibly difficult experience. Whilst I understood the move towards it, and will never begrudge the shift, I don’t know how to forgive paying full tuition for such a limited and lonely experience. I found it challenging to no longer have that prior separation between ‘work/school’ and ‘home’. It became difficult to concentrate, and increasingly demanding to study. There were classes where my attendance dropped significantly, and I just did not see the point in participating. Essays and assignments became more demanding, and the few tests I did have were strenuous to revise for. Home during COVID-19, ultimately became a constant place of work. And whilst I’ve always understood ‘home’ to be the people you love and not a place, with the increased feelings of loneliness and separation, alongside the inescapable nature of having your place of work be where you live, to a point, ‘home’, almost didn’t exist.




Visitor Activity: As mentioned in ‘Exhibit IV’, I used the song “Am I a Man or Am I A Muppet” to showcase my own feelings of ‘Home During COVID-19’. What song best represents your own experience with Lockdown?

Key hit singles from various friends and family whom I asked include: “That song Donkey sang in Shrek where it was ‘I’m all alone there’s no one here besides me! But you gotta have friends’ and then Shrek shuts him up”; The Sound of Silence by Simon & Garfunkel, I Want to Break Free by Queen, and What’s Up by 4 Non Blondes.

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