At a time like this, the words' crisis' and 'isolation' are flying through the air left, right and centre. For some, this sudden change in circumstances has been a much-needed reset, but for others, particularly those who are not used to spending time on their own, it may not seem so easy.
For some advice on how to deal with isolation – and a whole lot more ‘alone time’ – we’ve called on qualified counsellor Megan Sanderson. Here’s what she recommends:
There are ways in which we can stay connected, healthy and well. If you are at home on your own and looking for ways to help maintain your wellbeing, here are some of my top isolation buster tips.
Sleeping is the body's time for repair and renewal - a time for the mind to process and get rid of any
emotional and mental waste. According to the sleep
foundation the average adult should be getting between 7-9 hours of sleep each night1, so make sure you
prioritise and create a healthy relationship with sleep.
If you have allowed anything less than this to become your 'norm', look at things you're doing that have allowed this
to happen (Netflix, scrolling through social media, working late), change the behaviour and let 7-9 hours become your
Humans thrive on connection, so make sure you maintain your relationship with friends, family and colleagues.
Face-to-face contact and communication may not be viable right now, but we live in a modern world where technology
has provided us with many alternatives, so utilise them. Send an email, chat over the phone or organise a video
Look at things you can do to build a positive attitude. Science shows small things like keeping a daily gratitude journal boosts the release of dopamine (our happy
hormone) from the brain, helping to maintain emotional agility2.
Food can be a 'go-to' for comfort at this time, so try to be aware of this and manage as best you can. Remember
recommendations for a healthy diet have not changed - but there may be new challenges you face to achieve this;
whether that's motivation, budget or finding ingredients. When deciding on a meal (or snack) aim for eating a
variety of foods including vegetables, fruit, whole grains, meat (or meat alternatives) and dairy.
It doesn't have to be fancy or complex to be healthy. On the flip side, you might find yourself with lots of time to be creative - so why not have some fun with cooking? Make a cooking video to share with friends, enjoy a virtual meal with others, try new recipes or a cuisine you haven't experienced before.
Headspace, a global mindfulness and meditation organisation, found in recent studies that 10 days of meditation reduced stress by 12%, irritability by 27% and 3 weeks of it reduced aggression by 57% and increased compassion by 23%3.
Regular meditation can lead to physical, mental and emotional benefits. Create a zen space and find some quiet time each day.
We have a simple, guided mediation video you can use here.
Try and exercise for at least 30 minutes a day. Exercising helps increase the release of our feel-good hormones and encourages the body to get rid of excess stress hormones. Get creative with your exercise routines and mix them up to keep you engaged.
Routine is key to building and maintaining a healthy and robust mindset during this time. Fill out a daily/weekly
routine planner and be self-disciplined with it. A routine will help you stay productive and driven, keeping you
motivated and on track with your priorities.
Ensure you have a healthy emotional outlet regime. An emotional outlet is an activity you use to release trapped emotion. It helps you process things and understand yourself and life circumstances better.
Try a verbal outlet, like speaking to someone online or over the phone. Or you could try a non-verbal outlet like journaling, engaging in active relaxation practices or smashing a cardio workout that releases excess stress hormones.
Get creative in your home! Clean out that closet you've been meaning to get to for the last year, pull out that guitar you've wanted to play or try new recipes in the kitchen.
Let this newfound creativity keep you busy. You may discover sides of yourself you never knew existed.
Knowledge is power. As demonstrated through recent studies by Psychologist
Martin Seligman, engagement with new educational material boosts happiness and overall wellbeing4.
Maybe you could enrol in an online course that sparks your interest. If you are not sure what to study, but have a few interests, there are a lot of educational resources available for free - it only takes a quick google.
Simple, straightforward and pretty basic stuff, right? What I've shared with you are probably things you already know you should be doing.
Still, sometimes we need the reminder to be consistent and persistent with the simple daily tasks necessary for human survival – especially when you're going through something like this on your own.
If you or someone you know is struggling with social distancing, you’re not alone and there are several places you can
turn to for help.
This article contains general information only and does not take into account the health, personal situation or needs of any person. In conjunction with your GP or treating health care professional, please consider whether the information is suitable for you and your personal circumstances.
1 Sleep Foundation - How Much Sleep Do We Really Need? (2021)?
2 Greater Good Magazine - How Gratitude Changes You and Your Brain (2017)
3 Headspace - Research shows Headspace works (2018)
4 University of Pennsylvania - Authentic Happiness (2011)