With a near-global clamp down surrounding coronavirus, many of us are now in a position of self isolating and social distancing.
In such a time of uncertainty, it’s not surprising at all that anxious feelings are emerging among many. But while it’s true that we should be taking this seriously, it shouldn’t get in the way of your overall wellbeing and it doesn’t mean we should forget about what potential our current climate is for creativity and positivity.
Here is a guide to coping with anxiety and isolation.
1. You’re not alone!
Remember that we’re in this together. It’s been a long time since society has come together, and this is an opportunity to stay connected and support the ones you love. With social media at our fingertips, use the internet to start or read warm threads, share helpful information and check in with friends and family.
2. Consider online therapy
Many therapists are trained and accustomed to working online, and many therapists have come together to provide extra online support for anyone self-isolating. If you’re already in therapy, consider asking your therapist if they can offer this. If you’re searching for a therapist, consider finding one who offers this service. With many options at our disposal, such as Zoom, Skype, What’s App, email and phones, you don’t have to miss out on therapy. Just make sure that you source somebody with the appropriate credentials and qualifications, from a legitimate site, and avoid any ‘pop ups’ that might appear purporting to offer this service.
3. Get creative
Make a new music playlist, get cooking, read, sew, start writing a journal – we are living in an unprecedented time right now, which means we are making history. Use this opportunity to document your experiences through words, art, or anything else expressive. What would somebody in 20 years time like to know about life today? You might start a YouTube channel, set up a new podcast, write a book or simply catch up on rest and sleep. In this internet age, all the tools you need to get started are just a click away without need to step foot outside of your home.
4. Indulge in the right kind of fiction
It can be a hard task trying to separate reality from fiction when it comes to finding appropriate guidance online. But that doesn’t mean you should ditch fiction altogether. On the contrary, indulging in some healthy escapism can be a helpful way to manage anxiety. If creating something yourself isn’t your idea of escapism, simply get your favourite boxsets, podcasts, TV and Netflix ready – there is a lot of great entertainment to take your mind off things, from classic romance, to fantasy, to comedy, to life affirming drama. Life doesn’t have to be all about the news.
5. Exercise and keep motivated
One way of doing keeping up morale in the home is through gentle exercise. There are countless online and YouTube tutorials offering anything from Yoga to Zumba depending on your space. Or ditch the internet entirely and do some sit ups, push ups, squats. Text your friends and set goals for each other, or set your phone to speaker phone and be each others’ personal trainers. Motivate each other.
6. Get your home in order
We know the drill by now – wash your hands. And why stop there? Cleaning can have some great therapeutic benefits, so take the opportunity to sweep, clean, scrub floors, or clear out some stuff you’ve never quite got round to doing before. Create the surroundings you want – re-arrange the furniture, add some cushions to your bed, do a spot of DIY as long as you’re doing it safely. Just try to see it as something enjoyable rather than a chore or a task. Remember, you’re not on a deadline. You have the time and space to get into it in your own pace.
7. Create your own personal spa
We know that different scents can have an impact on our moods. Take a look in your cupboards and consider what sorts of bubble baths, bath bombs, shower gels, scrubs or other toiletries you have that you rarely make use of. Now is the time to make use of them. And take your time. For once, there is no rush to hurry out of the shower or bath to get to work. If you’re having a bath, why not take in your favourite book and a cup of tea. Play some gentle music while you wash.
8. Notice your surroundings
Sometimes, in the chaos and rush of the day to day, we forget what’s around us: the sky, trees, birds, insects, all continuing on as they always have with no knowledge whatsoever of this virus. Each morning, open your window and spend a good 10 minutes each morning taking it all in – from birdsong, to a squirrel nibbling on a piece of debris, to a spider making an intricate web, it’s incredible what you notice when the hustle and bustle of life subsides and the quiet sets in. If you don’t have the option of a window view, simply notice your home. Name five things you can see, four things you can hear, three things you can smell, two things you can touch, and one thing you can taste. Doing this will get you in tune with your sense and help you to ground yourself.
9. Consider the value of distance
Slow down, take stock. Self isolating and social distancing isn’t just about the people we’re surrounded by. Social Media can be an overwhelming place, and with 24-hour news coverage feeding our fears, we can feel fatigued just hearing about the virus. Don’t be afraid to take time offline if you need to. Switch off the news, or limit it to a certain time of day. Pick up your phone instead and talk to loved ones, or FaceTime somebody in another country. Don’t look at the news or check your phone before going to bed.
10. And breathe…
With your feet on the ground, close your eyes and imagine being connected to earth. Draw in a deep breath, drawing the energy up through your legs from the ground. Pull the breath into your body until it reaches your lungs. Then as you breathe out, imagine the air coming out through your arms, into your fingertips and back into the air. This will remind you of your connection to the world around you, and that everything you need is there for you.
We are potentially at the cusp of an exciting time for change, one that connects us together emotionally, even if we’re physically apart.