There are only so many hours you can watch looping news bulletins and read articles on the developing COVID-19 pandemic. Self-isolation is a time to plan for the worst and hope for the best. Without a bit of strategy and reflection, self-isolation may feel like a never-ending stretch of boredom and cabin fever. Managed in the right way, self-isolation can be a time of physical distancing, but deep social connectedness with your family, friends and community.
There are lots of great ways to make the most of this time. These include:
Keep things in perspective
The best we can do is to follow the public health guidelines we’ve been given to slow the rate of community transmission, and know that no matter how stressful and terrible the situation feels now, this too shall pass.
Once the health crisis has peaked (as it already has in some countries), our global community will emerge from lockdown restrictions and resume public life. If you are finding it hard to feel reassured by this at the moment, anxiety counselling can help you to regain and maintain a healthy perspective. Try your hand at what you can do at home with keeping panic and feelings of fear in check with evidence-based techniques like cognitive reframing.
Look for the helpers, and be a helper.
If the news cycle or constant conversations about COVID-19 feel overwhelming or anxiety-inducing, seek out some good news stories online about people looking after each other in this time of unprecedented worldwide social distancing. Check for community groups and charity posts on social media and see if you too can pitch in and help in some way.
By seeking out messages of gratitude, community and human decency, you’re more likely to put yourself in a ‘can-do’ state of mind- this helps clear brain fog, or brain freeze, and clarifies what you can do in your given situation.
Stay connected to your network
Plan to support other people you know who are in more challenging situations as well. Schedule a regular call or text to a friend or neighbour who is in isolation on their own. Research shows us that helping others has not only a positive impact on the person receiving it- but the person providing support too. Commit to keeping in contact with others.
Get creative with your personal goals
Make a list of everything you would like to achieve or do during this time. During the days of hectic weekly schedules and bustle, our usual mantras begin with something like “If only I had the luxury of time, I would…”. While this current health crisis is far from a ‘luxury’, there are definitely some opportunities here if you seek them out.
Whether it’s home-based tasks you’ve been putting off, or something you’ve always wanted to try but never found the time to do – now is the moment to start planning and exploring.
Some ideas include:
- Watch a series or have a mini film festival each night of the week (choose your favourite genre, actor, director, era).
- Even starting a Netflix party and watch shows together at the same time, long distance. Netflix has enabled a group chat function to use while you watch.
- Listen to a new podcast, read the book that you bought but never started
- De-clutter and clean each room of the house, organise the garage or storage space
- Learn to draw, paint, sing, dance, learn a new language! There are some excellent free classes and digital communities of creatives to discover online.
- Teach yourself to cook new meals, experiment with whatever’s in the pantry – it doesn’t have to be fancy, there are even articles online dedicated to dressing up instant noodles in dozens of delicious and nutritious ways.
- Develop a business plan for your passion project and connect with others already in that industry online. Find yourself a mentor in your chosen field – others are at home and looking to network as well.
- Connect with family and friends by phone and online: organise group chats and virtual dinner parties using video apps like Zoom, Skype and FaceTime. Teach older members of your tribe how to use the technology (surprisingly easy), and include any littlies in the fun, too.
In all reality, you now have an unexpected opportunity that you most likely never have in regular day to day life… an abundance of time. Think about all the different ways that you will make the most of it.
Mahlia is the CEO of Life Supports Counselling and has been advocating within the mental health industry since 2013. With a tertiary studies in Science, Psychology and the Arts, she is innately curious about human behaviour, neuroscience and psychology and translating the frontiers of scientific research into real-world business application.
Mahlia has a passion for building socially impactful businesses that help people thrive, and is responsible for leading and developing all aspects of the Life Supports mental health service, vision & purpose.