COVID-19: Coping with Isolation

isolated woman, standing alone near window

COVID-19: Coping with Isolation

Daily life has changed a lot over the last 2 weeks.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, many of us are working from home, limiting contact with other people, stocking up on food and supplies, and trying hard to minimize the fear and anxiety that so readily overwhelm our thoughts.

While social distancing is necessary to protect vulnerable populations, it takes a toll on our well-being; humans are social creatures, after all, and many of the things that make us happy and healthy require engagement with the world outside our individual homes.

Here are some tips for coping with the social isolation and maintaining healthy habits in spite of it:

Staying active

1. Take advantage of apps and videos for at-home workouts.

Whether you’re into yoga, HIIT, or strength training, there’s an app (or video) for that.

In particular, consider dance videos — it might seem silly, but dance can be a really great way to lift your spirits during this stressful time.

2. Stand and stretch regularly, throughout the day.

Consider setting an alarm every hour to get in some movement, or alternating between sitting and standing from one meeting to the next.

Another simple yet powerful hack: Do 2 push-ups (modified, if needed) every time you go to the bathroom.

3. If possible, walk or run outdoors.

Some fresh air and natural light can make a huge difference in mental state and overall well-being.

Connecting with others

1. Hold Skype sessions with friends, family, and/or colleagues.

Whether to chat or simply to keep each other company while working, take advantage of Skype or a similar platform!

My favorite ways to connect over video-chat:

  • Cooking with my mom and twin over Skype—we find a new recipe and make it together, chatting along the way.
  • Movie nights with friends and/or family—one person will share their screen and audio, and we’ll all enjoy bonding over a shared movie experience.
  • Remote workout sessions—I’ll pick and share a workout video, and enjoy the company and conversation of a fellow human while sweating it out.

2. Keep in touch with your parents.

Or other loved ones who are older and/or immunocompromised.

These folks are in a tougher spot than you are. Reach out to them, and do it often.

Eating right

1. Stock up on healthy, non-perishable foods (within reason; don’t hoard).

Examples: frozen fruits and veggies, frozen grains, canned beans, dehydrated veggie chips, dried fruit, nut and seed butters, roasted/raw nuts and seeds, dry grains (oats, rice, quinoa), dry legumes (beans, lentils), canned/jarred sauces (e.g., salsa, curry), and spices.

(Not sure what to do with these things? Google it, check out this post (particularly the Resources section), or email me with questions.)

2. Prepare healthy meals.

At this point, most of us don’t have the choice to not eat at home. While it’s easy to resort to frozen dinners and other processed foods, it would serve you well to take advantage of any extra time on your hands to prepare healthy meals (or learn to do so).

Managing emotional state

1. Read a book.

Reading Children’s Literature, in particular, can offer a much-needed respite during stressful times (I’ll be reading Harry Potter). Remember that even if you can’t go to the bookstore or library, there are tons of e-books and audiobooks available online.

2. Start a new project.

Starting a project can be a great way to refocus ruminating thoughts, to clean up your to-do list, and/or to encourage an atmosphere of growth (an important component of long-term happiness). From writing a novel to cleaning out the garage, the possibilities are endless.

3. Practice gratitude.

It may seem trite, but this is a powerful, mood-lifting strategy for many people.

Personal gratitudes: the ability to work from home, a cozy apartment, a stock of healthy foods, a partner to keep me company, large windows that bring in natural light, and the luxury of being young and healthy enough to not seriously worry about fighting the virus if I were to contract it. 

4. Write in a journal, draw, or play music.

Pick your favorite medium for expression, and use it often. The more your outwardly express your emotions (in a productive way; not by yelling at someone), the easier it is to manage them.  

5. Let boredom do its thing.

Boredom often breeds creativity.

6. Harness your inner child.

Speaking of boredom, do you remember being bored as a child? Do you remember how you dealt with it?

When I was a kid, I spent many a day cooped up in my house. But I got creative. I built forts, I wrote plays, I explore my backyard, and I pretended to be a horse.

Chances are, you also did a lot of fun things as a child, despite having limited space and freedom.

Well, now is a great time to revisit your childhood pursuits–consider engaging in activities you enjoyed as a kid, or simply encouraging your inner child to get creative and seek out fun in your own space.

7. Embrace self-care and take breaks often.

Regardless of how much you have going on outside the coronavirus development, it’s critical during this time to prioritize self-care and take breaks often; neglecting personal well-being will only lead to burn out. If you need ideas (in addition to those above) for how to take a break, check out the infographic here.

. . .

Now, more than ever, is a time to take care of yourself—not only to protect you, but to protect others as well. 

While being stuck at home with serious things to worry about surely makes healthy living challenging, there are many things we can do to make the best of a bad situation.

So reflect on the ideas above, and come up with your own for coping with social isolation, stress, and whatever other uncomfortable things you’re facing. And if you need extra support during this time, particularly with maintaining healthy habits, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Stay healthy, everyone.

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