Social Isolation during a pandemic is about keeping you and the community physically safe, yet mental health during isolation can easily suffer. It’s as if the world has changed overnight, and we’ve all been forced to adjust to a new world of government restrictions, masks, sanitizer, and quarantine. But the problem is this: Human beings have long operated in communities and tribes, and overnight many people have had to made a radical and swift adjustment to so many areas of life – and to operate in much greater isolation throughout it all.
Extended isolation can bring about feelings of disconnection from friends and the community, loneliness, boredom, and even frustration. In the climate of a worldwide pandemic, fears for health, finances, the future, and the world as we know it can create massive anxiety and deep uncertainty. On top of that, cabin-fever can set in for those working from home. We can feel cooped up and disconnected without the usual social ‘get-togethers,’ plus those extra ‘Covid kilos’ may leave us feeling podgy, unfit, and just plain unhealthy.
But with some simple changes to your day and to your mindset, you may be able boost your mood and your mental wellness. Here’s 10 tricks for thriving during isolation:
Stick to a routine. Wake and sleep at a reasonable time, and aim for balance: Time for work, time for fun, time for others (whether that be via telephone, social media or in person where possible), time for yourself, and time for food/sleep.
Move your body everyday: Exercise daily – even if this means walking around your garden, the block, following a YouTube video in your lounge, or engaging in some hearty housework with the music cranking!
Limit exposure to the news: Too much exposure to the news can be counterproductive to mental health. While it may be important to stay informed, saturation of heavy news stories can leave us feeling gloomy and hopeless. Try watching just one segment a day, and reserving any other media time to material that is inspiring, humorous, or uplifting.
Get out of the house once a day: Whether it be taking a seat on your balcony, going for a walk in your courtyard or garden, the park, or just out to water some plants. The fresh air and sunshine will offer some springtime Vitamin D and clarity of mind.
Stay connected: Make time for connecting with friends or loved ones who you maybe can’t see in person at the moment. Pick up the phone, facetime a friend, or meet over Zoom. For you extroverts, try hosting a ‘Zoom’ party with a theme. Try for at least 30 minutes a day.
Designate quality, uninterrupted time with family: Schedule time to watch a movie together or play a board game together. In a usually hectic and disconnected world, see this time as an opportunity for quality, uninterrupted time with your close loved ones.
Start a project: Immerse yourself in a creative or household project that you can chip away at over time. Let yourself become mindfully absorbed in a task, and lose yourself in the state of flow. The sense of achievement and satisfaction you may gain might create a little boost of ‘feel-good’ chemicals in the brain.
Reach out for support: This is a time to reach out for support if you’re struggling. The world may be vastly different, but community supports and mental health services are available and operating. Mental health clinicians can offer phone or video conferencing options if you prefer, or if you have been advised to self-isolate.
Remember: We’re in this together. EVERYONE is in this – right now, and together. Open up a conversation with your loved ones about how they are feeling, and don’t be scared to talk about your worries of feelings with others. Check in on a neighbour. Start a conversation. Know that you’re not alone right now – that humankind is sharing this new strange reality. There can be a comfort in knowing that this is a shared experience.
Reflect on the positives: How might this time change you for the better? With these forced changes, have core values changed within you? Perhaps you have learned to value a less hectic lifestyle, savor solitude, or re-prioritize your health. Or perhaps you have realized the value of quality time with loved ones. What’s good about this time, or how will you move forward in your life differently? This is a time to make room for growth and evolution – for mankind, and for you too.
For Mental Health Services, call Pine Rivers Private Hospital – 07 3881 7222 – Strathpine, Brisbane.