How to Cope with Self Isolation
So, as we're all aware, lockdown is in place. And it has been for quite a while now. Before lockdown was put in place, P and I had to go into self-isolation for 2 weeks as we both displayed symptoms so it's been a long ol' drag for us. I've spoken about it in a couple of different blog posts you can check out, from the effects on someone with anxiety to my own experiences of it.
I thought I'd publish this post as a kind of guide/ kind of advice, on how to best cope with it, and how to keep yourself pre-occupied with what to do.
I found that dragging myself out of bed was the first step towards maintaining my mental health. It didn't matter if I didn't make the bed, or if I was just moving to the sofa to play a video game or read a book, it was movement which was enough to inspire me into even a small task- and remember, when your mental health is fragile (everyone's is now) accomplishing a small task is JUST as productive as a big one. A task to do is a task to do. Even if it's just reading a book, it's teaching you about new things, inspiring you, educating you. If it's a video game, it's putting time into things you love. So don't stress the big stuff, especially right now. Down below are several tips on how to spend your time to best, whilst keeping your mental health in mind. Forget getting a six pack and finally learning French, these are real techniques to keep you sane and happy ( as we can be) right now.
Find a TV show that won't make you feel down or depressed
Obviously, some TV shows are fantastic, but they're so bloody dark. I'm talking Game of Thrones levels of gore and beloved character deaths, or The Handmaid's Tale's painful empathy we feel with all women in the TV show. Find yourself a TV show that you enjoy watching, and that will uplift you when you do. Think wholesomeness, like Friends, the Good Place or a classic sitcom.
Find exercise you actually enjoy doing
There is no point slogging yourself out for a run if you'll hate it, especially if you're self conscious (like I am). Find yourself a form of exercise you enjoy so it'll make you want to do it more, and keep you motivated. Exercise is crucial right now (as much as I dislike to admit lol) for your mental health and to keep your body healthy whilst in lockdown. So, for me, it's an easy-going yoga channel on youtube or an hour long walk at my own pace, with no pressure, listening to a great podcast, along beautiful streets in Richmond or the Thames. Whatever works for you.
Find a mindful activity that won't make you bored
Whether it's a colouring book or calligraphy, try out a few different activities you can do to help your mind out; for me it's embroidery.
Find yourself something to listen too
As I said above, I love a good podcast and there's so many good ones at the moment, from the High/Low, to Louis Theroux's new one, and lots and lots covering many different niches- there will be something for everyone out there, for free too! If that isn't your thing, there are literally millions of audiobooks around or, turn to an album you love. Not a break-up album though, nothing to bring you down, something more uplifting that reminds you of happier times.
Find a book (or series of books) that will lift you up
Now is the time to read, more so than before. Think about it, you're stimulating your brain, you're educating yourself, and you're providing your mind with a form of escapism that can be so great for when things right now feel like too much.
Find a recipe that is a comfort food, and easy to cook
Ask your mum how she made your favourite childhood meal so you can make it at home, or finally get into baking and that banana bread everyone is making! Cooking is another form of mindfulness and an art form in itself, and I absolutely love it. It's so calming and you get a delicious meal out of it as well! If you want to explore the culinary world yourself, two recipe books I seriously recommend are 5 Ingredients by Jamie and Simple by Ottolenghi, both famed for the ease at which you cook the book but the great quality food you get at the end.
Find yourself a (lax) schedule or sorts
It doesn't matter to anyone in the world but you what time you wake up, so for all means, yes, go for that lie in! But, it does affect your mental health, especially messing up your sleeping schedule. So, feel free to relax the 9-5 schedule in this time, but don't go crazy. There's nothing more disorientating than waking up at 2pm, getting dressed for the day at 5pm and going to sleep at 4am. Even if it means waking up at 10 am now and going to sleep at midnight, with a quick cat nap in the day, make sure you're sticking to roughly a similar schedule as before, because when things go back to normal (which they will, trust me!) adjusting back to your normal schedule will be easier.
Find something (semi) productive to do
I don't mean writing a novel or creating craft beer (if you like that though, then go for it!), I'm talking about small things like completing a short course (I found one that was 4 hours long! How little commitment does that need?! Guess it was aimed at some of the men I've dated) or painting a picture, or finishing a jigsaw. Whatever small thing it is, accomplishing it can make you feel invincible right now, and might inspire you to tackle some bigger things you could have lined up.
Talk to family and friends regularly, even if it's just to check in
Remember, we're all in this together. You don't have to take part in furloughed worker's pub quiz every Friday with your work, but send your nearest and dearest a text every couple of days to make sure they're coping okay. People would love to know they're being thought of right now in these times, and a Facetime here and there will help you stay connected with the people you love.
Shower/Bath every day (and wash your face)
Gosh, this is a surprisingly hard one to do when you're not leaving your house, but trust me it really does help your mental health to stay on top of cleanliness. Again, doing this could be considered a task and once you do it you could be motivated to do other things, too! Also, your skin is taking a battering right now being stuck in the same (often dry) atmosphere all day, so it really helps.
Other things to consider, if you feel like undertaking bigger tasks;
-Update your CV and cover letter
-Create some art, any art! From photo manipulation and digital drawing on your computer to a good old pen and paper, express your feelings right now, whether good or bad..
-Keep in touch and stay active with your friends through online games such as WordFeud or Cards Against Humanity online, or by doing quizzes together on House Party
-Home improvements, even just putting up a poster or tidying that one corner of a room you never touch can really help you feel productive and improving your living space really boosts your mental health
-Cleaning and tidying; check out my article for Flux Magazine on how to re-vamp your wardrobe!
How are you keeping your mental health in check in these times? What are your tips? Would love to hear all of your thoughts!