Isolating well

Isolating well

Many people are more afraid of the isolation requirements of COVID-19 than they are of COVID-19 itself.

 

Most people will not have to deal with the more severe effects of COVID-19; but almost everyone will have to face isolation. It is important, then, that we have some idea of how to face isolation well in order to minimise the mental health impacts of this important health intervention.

 

Have a Plan

Working out what to do with yourself when you’re distressed and sick is really difficult. Writing a plan up when you’re well will make the plan more effective and the episode less stressful. At the same time, it is important to be flexible as each infection can be quite different, and it would be impossible to plan exactly what will happen. But having some pre-determined idea of how you would like to face COVID-19 can be helpful.

 

         

 

Keep a routine

It can be tempting to let routine fly out the window when all your plans for the week have crumbled to dust. But do not lose heart: routine is still important. Our bodies work best in a rhythm. Keeping your rhythm healthy now when your ill will give you the best chance of recovering quickly. Don’t stay up too late and don’t sleep in too much. Don’t nap too much; and when you do, limit your naps to no longer than 30 minutes at a time. Remain productive during the day and relax a bit at night. Keep your life rhythms going so when you get back to normal life you won’t miss a beat.

 

Do some exercise

What exercise you can do may be limited by the size of your place of confinement. But there are exercises that can be done in all sorts of spaces. Be creative and keep moving when you can, as this helps keep you healthy.

 

Indoor exercises covid         

 

Get some rest

In a piece about what you can do to remain healthy through isolation, the most important thing to do may be to do nothing at all. Technology allows us to continue at breakneck speed, even when confined at home. But remember that COVID-19 is a serious illness, regardless what symptoms you may have. It may be tempting to keep working from home or do a dozen home-improvement projects while you’re stuck at home; but remember that when you are unwell, you need rest.

 

Enjoy something beautiful

In an age of entertainment we have forgotten the art of enjoyment. We are too easily satisfied with trashy shows and mindless reels. A little bit of candy is ok, but remember that it does nothing to uplift the soul. In a time when you are imprisoned in isolation, your soul needs to be lifted more than ever.

So be selective about what you consume. Don’t settle for just any old show; find a good show. Find something that lifts your spirit, that makes you want to cry for the beauty of it. Spend an afternoon watching the sunset out of your window. Read a good book. Enjoy your favourite craft or hobby. Choose to enjoy the beautiful things of life.

 

       

 

Beware the excess

Enjoying yourself is important; but beware the excess. Some see the week of isolation as a chance to binge-watch their favourite shows. Cake is wonderful; but by the fifth one in an hour you will have lost most of that wonder. Keep your joy alive by pacing yourself. Don’t let an addiction spoil your joy.

 

Have some variety

Variety is the spice of life, and can help keep your joy delicious. Cycle through a range of good things to do. Not everything has to be amazing. Letting yourself do a variety of things will help the uplifting things remain more effective for longer.

 

Look forward to something

Hope is necessary for humans to thrive. Having your plans ruined and being locked up in your own home may be devastating, but remember that COVID-19 isolation is only temporary. Fuel your hope with the things you look forward to. Keep lifting your eyes to the better future that you long for. As long as you can keep your eyes up, you will be able to move forward.

 

Keep connected

We have unprecedented technology for unprecedented times. We had none of the communication technology that we take for granted in the last global pandemic a century ago. Take advantage of this and stay connected with those you love. Talk; see each other; play some games together. It may not be the same as seeing them face-to-face, but it is better than nothing.  A disconnected human is like a fish out of water. Connection is a fundamental need of our human condition.

If electronic communications is not quite your thing, there’s nothing wrong with going the old-fashioned way! Write letters. Craft a gift. Remember your loved ones and channel that love into something creative. You might be surprised what you come up with.

 

Reflect on your experience

Whether you find the isolation experience restful or horrible, it will be one full of emotions that need to be processed. Talk with someone about it. Write on it and reflect on what you have experienced. Don’t waste the opportunity and just box it up and forget about it. Reflection will help you transform this challenge into something that will make you a better human being.

 

Show yourself some grace

Isolation is hard. If you find yourself losing your cool, that’s ok. If you find yourself not being able to do all the healthy things you think you should be doing, that’s ok. If you find yourself unable to rise to the challenge, that’s ok. It’s ok to be human.

 

         

Your doctor is always here to help. If you are in need of any support from your GP, telehealth consults are available at our clinics.

Contact our clinics today

Thank you to Dr Vincent Lee of Greenslopes Clinic for writing this blog. Dr Lee has developed a special interest in mental health and wellbeing, and has now focussed his practice exclusively to the provision of mental health care. Learn more about Dr Lee here.

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