What can I say? What a weird situation we have all found ourselves in… I don’t really know how to begin this blog post as I don’t think I’ve properly gotten my head around what’s happening in the world right now. In the UK we’re currently on day one of full lockdown but many people have been self-isolating or working from home for a few weeks. I feel very dissociated from it all; like I am almost watching it all go on rather than actually living it myself. However, the unfortunate reality is that this really is happening and these can be scary, frustrating and unnerving times, not to mention having to spend lengthy amounts of time cooped up in our houses has the potential to send us all a little stir-crazy. Now, as a vet, I can’t really work from home but we are facing team splitting, shift changes and reduced contact with both other staff members and the general public. Thankfully, I do not have any Coronavirus symptoms at present so have no need to isolate, but it’s certainly not off the cards for the future. As an incredibly social being who lives alone, away from family, I rely on work and seeing friends for social interaction and although I am at peace with my own company, I am anticipating finding the coming weeks very hard. So, I figured, in addition to my usual blog content I’d write a few things surrounding the current predicament we all find ourselves in, starting with some top tips for coping with self-isolation to hopefully help some of us survive being cooped up with ourselves for the foreseeable future.
1. Keep Moving
Just because you’re self-isolated doesn’t mean you can’t keep active. At the moment, if you’re fit and well you are still allowed to go outside in the UK once daily. Look at working from home as an advantage and take a long lunch break to go out for a walk. For those of us who are in true isolation or if your country or city is in full lockdown, there are still ways to keep moving. Even in the smallest of spaces you can practice yoga, build up stamina, work on flexibility and use all those stock-piled cans of food you bought as weights (Is it too soon to joke about this? I don’t know…). My top tip would be to look on YouTube; there are so many fun and engaging work out routines you can easily do at home to cover every taste be it cardio, bulking up, building tone or stretching out. Also, check out your local gyms, yoga studios and fitness clubs because many are planning on streaming lessons from home.
2. Keep in Touch
Just because you can’t physically see people doesn’t have to stop you socialising. We live in a fantastic age where technology can keep us close so, in times like this we need to put it to good use! Call your mum, Skype your nanna, and create group chats with friends to touch base and keep each other entertained. Use this as an opportunity to have a nice long chat to someone you haven’t spoken to in a while. We can all put more effort into socialising and this is the perfect opportunity to reconnect.
3. Stick to a Routine
Although it is very tempting to vegetate, remain shrouded in PJs and live in your bed or on your sofa for days on end, you really shouldn’t do this long term. Sure, temporarily revel in the novelty of having a duvet day, have a lie-in and spend a well-deserved day on the sofa binge-watching your favourite series. But, after that try and stick to a routine. Get up at a reasonable hour, get dressed, make your bed and make a to-do list for the day. Schedule your time as you would during a normal working week including breaks, a lunch hour and a finishing time. Allowing your days to blur together through not having a routine will have you feeling sluggish and de-motivated, having a plan each day will help the days tick over with a purpose and look after your mental health.
4. Focus on the Perks
It’s easy for us all to focus on the negatives, but let’s try and exercise that positive mental attitude and look at the things we’re enjoying about this situation. You can spoil yourself with an extra hour in bed, enjoy the lack of commute to work, maybe you don’t have to see annoying colleagues and don’t have your boss breathing down your neck ensuring you’re working. For some of you, social distancing may mean you can have fun spending more time with family and the loved ones you live with and if you’re not working, just focus on enjoying a well-deserved break from work. Yes, in some instances this situation sucks but we can’t do anything about that. What we can do is focus on the good things which will make the process go by with much less of a sting.
5. Use it as an Opportunity
How many times have you wished you could learn something new, have the time to do house renovations or start a new hobby but told yourself you don’t have the time? Well, now you have lots of free time to fill so donate it to doing some of those things on your to-do list. There are sites such as SkillShare where you can sign up for a month of free courses on almost anything you could possibly want to learn about. Start working towards that summer bikini body for when we can all (hopefully) get back out into the world again or start the re-decorating process you’ve been putting off. Use this time as an opportunity and utilise the time instead of moping around feeling sorry for yourself.
6. Stay positive
As mentioned above, this situation is not ideal, but it’s the hand we’ve been dealt so we, therefore, have to work with it. Now, we can choose to battle it with a smile or go down kicking and screaming but it isn’t going to change things. Being miserable and wallowing isn’t going to accomplish anything so try and think about all the things you’re thankful for. If you need that extra kick to stay positive try starting a gratitude journal or at least writing down 3 things per day you’re thankful for.
7. Let Some Light In
You may be in self-isolation but that doesn’t mean you can’t open your window and let in some light and fresh air. If you’re working from home try to set up your workspace somewhere bright and airy, where you can see outside because this will work wonders for your mood and health. I have spent this morning rearranging my apartment so my desk is now next to the window and I already feel better! If you are still able to go outside, get out into nature as often as possible ( though please remember to practice social distancing and take any necessary precautions advised by your government and health care professionals).
8. Try to Have Breaks From Technology
Social media is great for keeping in touch and providing us with much-needed entertainment during this time of social distancing, as is Netflix, Now TV and all those other streaming platforms. I am currently thanking the stars that Disney+ has launched in the UK, as this will keep me entertained for weeks! However, though the temptation is to sit in front of some sort of screen all day scrolling and vegetating, try to take regular breaks from it to be present in the real world, even if you are by yourself. Read a book, get some exercise, write a journal, get out in your garden, there are many things you can do to break up your screen time.
9. If You’re Struggling, Tell Someone
We are facing a very unusual and difficult time. The uncertainty, worry for loved ones and social isolation can be a potent cocktail to flare up mental health issues so please be aware of that and look after yourselves and others. If you know someone who may be at risk during this situation keep an eye on them and if you yourself at all feel overwhelmed or anxious don’t be quiet and suffer in silence. We are all here to look after each other so please remember that if you’re struggling and reach out to someone you trust.
10. Support Each Other
It has deeply saddened me to see some of the animosity in the shops, the selfishness of people bulk buying and the downright disgusting human beings who think it’s appropriate to start trying to make a profit out of people’s insecurities and needs. However, it’s not all doom and gloom. Good people have come out of the woodwork to pick up shopping for their elderly neighbours, donate food to food banks and assisting other charitable causes where possible. If you are in the fortunate position where you can donate time, resources or money to people in need right now, they are in more need now than ever. Not only will doing some good help out those in need it will give you a purpose during this time when many of us feel we are lacking one.
So there you have my top tips for social isolation. I hope this post has been helpful and I would love to hear what you guys have been doing to keep occupied, motivated and healthy, as well as any top tips of your own how to stay sane during this bizarre situation we’ve all found ourselves in. Right, I’m off to binge-watch Disney+ now ( whilst being a well-rounded individual and following all my own advice too of course!), see ya real soon folks!