Tips on Coping with Isolation
The current pandemic may be affecting us all in different ways: physically, emotionally, financially and socially. It is normal for us to be experiencing fear and anxiety, given the situation and number of uncertainties, worries or losses we may be experiencing. It is easy for us to get caught up in worries about what might happen in the future, or the challenges we are currently facing. However, most of these worries will be focussed on what’s not in our control, as we cannot control how the government manages the pandemic, or what happens in the future.
The best way to try and manage at the moment is to focus on what is in our control. You can focus on what you do each day, in the here-and-now. And remember that we have far more control over our behaviour, than our thoughts and feelings.
Consider what you can do to help and connect with others. This could be helping people in your own home (e.g. cooking a meal together, playing a game with your child, or looking after someone who feels unwell). If you are feeling well, consider helping out your neighbours – e.g. checking in on your elderly neighbours, or posting a note through all your neighbours’ doors with your phone number offering your help if they need it. Throughout the day, think about what you can do – no matter how small – to help yourself, those you live with, or your community.
Illustration by Lena Yokoyama
It is helpful to follow a daily routine, with regular sleep, exercise, work and eating patterns. Whilst what happens in the future is out of our control, we can control our daily habits and give our day-to-day lives structure. Structure will also encourage you to stick to healthy habits. If you are working from home, ensure you take breaks and keep your surroundings clean and tidy.
Balancing time and creativity
Consider how you are spending your time indoors. How can you vary your day to include a mix of screen time (working, watching television, browsing online) with other activities? Consider cooking some new recipes, trying different exercises and physical activity, reading books, and engaging fully with other meaningful activities that interest you. The Open University are offering over 1000 free online courses, which come with certificates after completion: https://www.open.edu/openlearn/free-courses/full-catalogue
Consider doing some artwork, such as drawing your favourite photograph or a scene from your local area. If you like singing or music, could you join an online virtual choir or band? You could also try and learn a new language, with the free DuoLingo app.
Picture by Ruth Braidwood
We are in a unique situation; our lives have been put on pause. Along with the challenges it is inevitably bringing, it may also allow us space to reflect upon our life more generally. Perhaps you could write down some of your experiences and reflections during this time. Is there anything you have learnt about yourself, that you want to remember when this pandemic is over? Are there things that you now realise how grateful you are for in your ‘normal’ life (e.g. going to coffee shops, meeting friends, exploring new places)? Writing these down may help you to look back on this period, and take forward any learning points or reflections you’ve made, to live your life to its fullest in the future.
Acceptance and opening up
Not all days will be good days – there will be ups and downs. It’s OK to have days off, days where you feel like you have achieved nothing, or where you accept the negative feelings you are experiencing. Be kind to yourself, acknowledge your feelings, and talk to someone if you can. Remember you are not going through this alone, and things will be different in the future.
Smiling Mind – free mindfulness app
Couch to 5k – free training programme to get you from the couch to doing your first 5K run
Strava – free app to track and share your daily exercises with your friends DuoLingo – free app to learn a new language
Calm – mindfulness, sleep stories, and breathing exercises. Free premium features at the moment.