Tips for Self Isolation
Self-isolation (or lockdowns) where people are not leaving their homes is likely to result in an experience of ‘cabin fever’. We would expect people to feel a bit lower in mood and an increase in restlessness during a period of isolation. That is a normal emotional response to staying indoors for several weeks at a time.
However there are a few things you can do to make your time in self-isolation” a little bit easier.
1) Take care of your Four Pillars of wellbeing. Diet. Sleep. Exercise. Relaxation. These are your basic needs and they provide the foundation for our wellbeing. If one of these pillars gets wobbly, any additional stress that gets piled on top is likely to wobble too. Don’t just comfort eat lots of sugar but increase your intake of fruit and veg. Find some way to exercise in your house – walking up and down the stairs a few times is good! Have times of proper relaxation when you are not glued to your phone but genuinely resting.
2) Activity association. When we go into lockdown we condense our lives down from having different ‘zones’ for different activities (e.g. office to work, gym to exercise, home to relax etc.) to having to do all our activities in one space. Our brains like to associate different places with different activities because when we enter those places it triggers our brain to work a particular way. So, if you are not leaving the house, consider which rooms you want to use for which activities and try to stick to it as much as possible.
E.g. Bedroom – Only for sleeping
Living room – Only for relaxing
Dining room – Only for working
The more you stick to these zones, the more you will start to identify different areas of the house with different activities and it will help you to focus when you need to, and relax when you need to.
3) It’s important to have some variation and structure in your day. This can be harder to achieve when we are indoors all the time, so we need to be more proactive. Find a diary planner (or app) that breaks days up into hourly or 2 hourly chunks and sketch out a plan for your time. Plan when you will do home office, and when you will stop work. Stick to that time! With the rest of your time, you want to make sure you have a mixture of activities you have to do and activities you want to do. Consider the ACE goals: Achieve, Connect, Enjoy. Have you got a sense of achievement that day? Have you connected with people? Have you done something you enjoy?
4) Don’t stop connecting with people – use technology! Just because we might have to self-isolate doesn’t mean we need to stop interacting. Use skype, facetime, phone calls, landlines. Anything that helps you to connect to others. Speaking to others verbally and ideally with camera is better than simply texting when we are not seeing people face to face.
5) Use this time to your advantage. If you are not well, use this time to really rest and let the body heal. If you feel up to it, use this time to exercise your mind. Maybe there is a book you never got around to reading or a skill you’d like to learn? Maybe you want to spend more time with God? Have a look at the Resource Page for ideas of things that will feed you spiritually.
The way we view a time of self-isolation will have a big impact on the way we feel about it.
If we see it as a prison sentence it will feel like one. If we see it as an opportunity to learn a new skill, or to rest and recuperate the time will go faster: we will feel less afraid and may even get round to doing that thing you’ve always wanted!
(thanks to Beth Kretzschmar for this advice)