What to do when you’re stuck in a COVID-19 testing queue

What to do when you’re stuck in a COVID-19 testing queue

01/02/2022

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Victorians are still queueing up in their tens of thousands every day for COVID-19 PCR tests, despite changes to the rules on close contacts last week and the acceptance of rapid at-home tests as an alternative.

Wait times of many hours have been reported by those lucky enough not to be turned away as site capacity is stretched.

A sign reading “CLOSED – Please come back at 8am tomorrow” outside the St Vincent’s Hospital COVID-19 testing centre in Fitzroy early on Sunday morning. Credit:Scott McNaughton

So, what are people doing with all that time, aside from feeling bored and frustrated?

We asked Melburnians to help out with a few ideas for activities to keep mind and body occupied from the confines of a car or while standing in a line.

Stitch it


“You’ll be amazed at how time speeds up once you actually slow yourself down.“
Tamara Russell, Karhina Textile Art

Keeping hands busy with an art activity like stitching and embroidery can relax and give the opportunity to take time with yourself, says sustainable textile artist Tamara Russell.

Straight stitching lines or creating random patterns is a good no-pressure activity that doesn’t require any special skill.

Tamara recommends making masks. With no machinery required, Tamara offers free patterns and instructions online. Children in the car can also get involved, so long as they are provided looser material and plastic needles for younger kids.

And there’s no need to spend lots of money on supplies; sewing thread can be used along with cloth, old clothing and even stained napkins lying around the house.

Matt Young, director of Melbourne Meditation Centre, meditating in St Kilda Botanic Gardens on Sunday.Credit:Craig Abraham

Loosen up

“For years I’ve used meditation anytime I’m required to wait, even if it’s just to cross the road.”
Mathew Young, Melbourne Meditation Centre

Instead of letting negative feelings of frustration build up, it can be helpful to move the mindset towards thinking of a wait as an opportunity. Mathew Young, director of Melbourne Meditation Centre, says that it’s easier to meditate than we think as it doesn’t require us to sit crossed legged or allocate a set amount of time.

Some meditation techniques one could try in a car include focusing on one sensory thing, such as breathing, hearing or touch. Zero in on the sound of the music you’re listening to, the traffic nearby or even the feel of the wheel.

Another activity Mathew believes is useful is just to ask “where am I unnecessarily tense”? By doing this, a natural release takes place, he says, with shoulders becoming relaxed and grinding teeth coming to a halt.

He also recommends guided meditations that invite focus and mindfulness, which are available online.

DJ Perri Lee

Get musical

“If I had more time in the day, all I would do is search and find new music.”

Perri Lee, DJ

Opening the ears to new genres and artists is a good way to break the monotony.

Melbourne DJ Perri Lee says there are plenty of platforms to find music, with Instagram and TikTok great for finding trending pop music, while Twitch helps with discovering smaller, local artists where you can also search for favourite clubs or venues and stream their resident artists and DJs.

Perri also suggests checking Spotify curated playlists and following record labels for people wanting to find music similar to what they’re already listening to.

One uplifting artist Perri recommends is Bob Sinclair who she assures is bound to get people in great spirits while waiting in the car.

Sarah Kinsella, director at The Decent People

Get creative

“When we’re playing improv or when we’re telling stories it’s a really great opportunity to be as silly as we can.”

Sarah Kinsella, improviser at The Decent People

There are a number of games to play solo or with friends if you have a love for words and storytelling.

Sarah Kinsella, an improvisation aficionado who holds corporate improv workshops regularly, recommends Word at a Time as a good group game, if you’re queueing with the family. Each person taking turns saying a word to form a story with the starting word being a verb like ‘jumping’ so the story starts out lively.

If waiting alone, then a classic game of word association which involves looking out the window and pinpointing an object then saying a string of related words can help occupy the mind.

Read

“Between work, family commitments and socialising, reading is done in the stolen hours before sleep at night, on public transport or if we are lucky, on holiday.”

Diana Johnston, Hill of Content bookstore

Get lost in a new world by picking up a book that will open the mind and let the imagination run free. Diana Johnston, manager of Hill of Content bookstore, suggests picking up Small Joys of Real Life by Allee Richards. Set in Melbourne, this book is about how the life you have can change in an instant – it’s about friendship, desire, and growing up to accept that all you can do is be in the moment and look to find the joys in between.

For a light read, Diana recommends You and Me on Vacation by Emily Henry.

For a murder mystery that can’t be put down, she says The Way it is Now by Garry Disher is the way to go.

Anna MacDonald and Robert Albazi from the Paperback Bookshop also share the bestsellers at their store: Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro and The Cost of Living by Deborah Levy. For shorter queues, they recommend The Miracle Cures of Dr. Aira by César Aira, which can be read in an hour.

What do you do to pass the time in a queue? Tell us in the comments below!

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