Since we’re currently in the middle of a global pandemic in the form of Coronavirus, self isolation is a step that many of us are being advised or instructed to do to slow down its spread.
Dealing with this level of self isolation and social distancing can be difficult, especially for people who are vulnerable to mental health difficulties.
If you’re taking the steps to self isolate or distance yourself from others, it’s essential that you take care of your mental health and wellbeing to remove any added stress from this already stressful time.
Taking care of ourselves will help us to minimize overwhelm and make this confusing period a little easier to cope with!
What is self isolation and social distancing?
Social distancing is the act of creating physical distance between yourself and other people by withdrawing from certain activities.
This could look like working from home, not attending large events and cancelling unnecessary outings. If you want more information on how to practice social distancing you should follow your own government’s advice.
Taken one step further, social distancing becomes self isolation. This means completely isolating yourself for a period of time and not leaving the house at all.
Self isolation is recommended for people who have symptoms of Coronavirus or people who have knowingly come into contact with somebody who has the virus. But again, make sure to check your own government's guidelines for social distancing and self isolation.
Social distancing and mental health
For those of you who suffer with mental health difficulties such as depression and anxiety, you probably already know the struggles of self isolation.
You may have experience with self isolation as a coping mechanism, and you’ve probably felt the negative effects that isolating yourself can have on your condition.
But for others of you, this may be completely new. Perhaps you spend a lot of time with others and never allow yourself to spend time alone, and now that you don’t have a choice you don’t know how to cope.
The truth is, humans are sociable beings and we thrive in community. It’s natural for us to experience things like loneliness and low mood when we’re disconnected from others.
Even the most introverted of us can experience loneliness if we spend too much time alone!
And what’s more, is that at this time we're not just experiencing the struggles of social distancing, but the struggles of social distancing in a pandemic.
This means that on top of the effects of isolation, it’s completely normal for people to also be struggling with health anxiety or fear.
It’s a very strange time for many of us, and one where we’d normally turn to community for reassurance and comfort.
Whatever you’re feeling during this time, know that your experience is valid and that there are steps you can take to make dealing with self isolation a little easier.
15 self care tips for dealing with self isolation
1. maintain a routine
It might sound pedantic, but routine truly is amazing for our mental health.
Having structure allows us to go about our day with purpose and it offers meaning in our lives when times are difficult.
If you’re self isolating or social distancing, maintaining some kind of routine is going to be beneficial for you.
While it may be tempting to laze around in bed and spend all day in your pajamas when you’re off work, your mental health will soon feel the effects.
Keep your alarm set for your usual time, get up as usual and get ready as usual. Do all the things that you need for a productive morning routine and your mind will thank you for it.
But at the same time, don't beat yourself up if you have an off day! It's totally okay to be unproductive at times, particularly in the current climate.
If you're feeling less than productive, don't force it. If you're procrastinating, then just allow yourself to fully relax instead. Come back to productivity when it feels right.
2. Let the light in
Things can get a little doom and gloom when you spend too long cooped up indoors, and unfortunately artificial lights just aren’t enough to brighten our mood the way that natural light does.
What’s more, our bodies have their own circadian rhythm that is affected by daylight. If we never see the light of day, we’re likely to feel sluggish which can definitely worsen our mental health.
If you’re staying indoors, make sure to open your curtains or blinds. Even if it’s not sunny outside it will make the world of difference, trust me!
If you know you struggle from seasonal depression and being inside is going to be difficult for you, it might be a good idea to invest in SAD light specifically designed for this purpose.
3. Get some fresh air
Our homes can also get stagnant and make us feel low in energy if they’re not circulating fresh air, particularly if you have air conditioning or central heating on.
Make sure to open a window or door to let that flow of air in, even if it’s just for a short while.
Better yet, get outside! If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, make use of it. You can also go for walks in nature if this is not restricted where you are.
Never underestimate the power of movement! Exercise is a huge mood booster and movement in general can help us feel more energized.
While you probably won’t be able to attend a gym, there is nothing stopping you from doing some at home workouts.
Now would also be a great time to check out some free 30 day yoga challenges to keep you moving while also lowering stress levels!
Yes, binge watching Netflix sounds like a good idea at first, but there comes a point where even that becomes boring.
Even if reading isn’t your usual cup of tea, it’s a great way to pass time and relieve boredom. Not only this, but getting lost in a good book can help you to cope with any anxieties you might be experiencing during your isolation period.
If you’re likely to be isolating for a lengthy period, a kindle is an awesome product to have instant access to new books.
I also have a list of 60 amazing books on spirituality that can help you ponder the workings of the Universe during this time!
6. Start a new hobby
A period of self isolation or social distancing is a great time to pick up a new hobby. With extra time and energy to invest, you can really develop your skills.
Why not commit to doing something new that you’ve always wanted to try?
Skillshare is an amazing platform where you can do just that! They offer tons of online classes in just about anything that you can think of, and you can get a two month free trial, which is bound to keep you busy!
Meditation can be an amazing tool for dealing with self isolation and can simultaneously help you to calm the mind of added stress from health anxiety and other worries.
Even taking ten minutes out of your day to meditate can have a huge impact on your mental health.
And if you’re completely new to meditation, that’s okay - now is the best time to learn! Check out my free beginners meditation guide to help you get started.
8. Use technology mindfully
While you may think that scrolling social media is a great way to deal with boredom, it will actually increase your boredom in the long run as your ability to be mindful and live in the present decreases.
As well as this, constantly consuming media during a global pandemic is also not wise to do if you’re prone to fear and panic. The things you read online will often increase your fear more than anything else.
This is particularly true in the mornings! Do not go on your phone in the mornings - I cannot stress this enough!
Instead, look at developing healthy morning habits to start your day off mindfully.
9. Get on the phone or video chat
This is one area in which technology is actually our friend. Even in times of self isolation, we are able to interact with our loved ones remotely.
If you’re socially distancing or isolating then make sure to take advantage of this technology and stay in contact with others to reduce feelings of loneliness.
Phone calls are great but video calls are even better! You can even do fun activities over video calls like cooking or watching a movie together!
10. Stay healthy
It’s more important now than ever to keep on top of your nutrition to make sure you stay healthy. Not only will this boost your immune system, but it will also improve your mood and mental health.
If you’re unable to go and get food, look at having it delivered or a friend or family member getting some for you. Focus on nutrition dense foods like fruit and veg and steer away from “comfort foods” that will do more harm than good.
Of course, drink an adequate amount of water, take supplements if necessary and practice good hygiene (hand washing in particular!)
11. Keep your mind active
One way to reduce feelings of boredom is to keep the mind active and engaged. Passive activities like watching TV or scrolling social media won’t keep you fulfilled as long as something mentally engaging will.
A challenging puzzle is a great way to keep your mind focused as well as your hands busy. And if you’re isolating with family then board games are a great way to pass the time!
Journaling is a powerful tool for mental health that you’ll hear me talk about a lot. It really is amazing at helping you process thoughts and emotions, even if you have nobody else to discuss them with.
Use your time self isolating to keep a journal. This will help you release thoughts rather than letting them linger in your mind, and journal entries are also great to look back on once a difficult time has passed.
13. Practice gratitude
While it may not seem like it currently, there are always things to be grateful for! Practicing gratitude can help you look on the bright side and keep a positive mindset during challenging times.
Why not combine gratitude and journaling into one step and start a gratitude journal?! These gratitude journal prompts will also help you ensure you never run out of things to express gratitude for!
14. Practice affirmations
Similarly, positive affirmations can help you to stay on the bright side and reduce fear and anxiety. Not only do affirmations work with the Law of Attraction, but they also take advantage of neuroplasticity and can help us rewire our neural pathways to think positively.
If you’re prone to feeling fearful, these positive affirmations for anxiety can help you shift your mindset and find some relief.
15. Get organized
If nothing else, this is the perfect opportunity to get organized. If you need something to pour your energy into, having a huge clearout of your home or doing some planning is a great way to do it.
This can give your mental health a boost by making you feel productive and giving you some purpose during this confusing time.
I understand that these factors alone may not be enough to completely relieve the stress of the Coronavirus pandemic. However, they can definitely make dealing with self isolation a little easier.
So if you’re stuck at home, remember these tools to look after yourself, look out for others and remember - this is temporary!
Don’t forget to pin this post to spread the word!