Self-Isolation Is Difficult: Lessons From Day 3

We are lucky enough to work from home so we have plenty of opportunity to keep our minds active. In fact, my workload especially has increased. That said, there are still times when it is difficult to stay in the house constantly. Just as a reminder, there is an enforced isolation where I live with fines for unauthorised trips outside the house. We went shopping yesterday with the downloadable authorisation forms to find police officers checking cars for people who might not have the form. The streets are deserted and the shutters are down on the shops. It feels like the end of life as we know it.

While I appreciate my own situation, I can fully imagine that there are people who are at home with not much to do. They might have lost their jobs or are freelancers who have had work stopped. They might be self-isolating due to symptoms or being forced to because other family members or work colleagues have symptoms. These people may well have to deal with depression or anxiety about their situation at present. Let us hope the governments of the world do the right thing by these people.

We are learning day by day to cope with the enforced isolation we are under at present. My schedule is set and I am finding more time to catch up on projects that I usually find scant time to do, including writing and spending more time grading assignments for the university I work with. I fall into bed at 10.30 to 11 pm tired and ready for sleep. My wife’s schedule is a little more flexible and she has had to bring in special measures to cope. I help as best I can but the effects of isolation, even after three days are starting to show on both of us. A certain ‘cabin fever’ is descending upon us as our usual routes of ‘escape’ are closed off.

We have decided to take each day as it comes and try to split that day into sections that contain what we need to keep going. That includes periods of production (work), periods of relaxation (reading, meditation) periods of discussion and connection where we talk about not just the situation we are in but how we are feeling. We also check on each other for symptoms, especially as I travelled widely before the isolation.

We also have brought in a regime of maintaining healthy eating and sleep. Our diet is vegetable based and we are lucky that supplies are plentiful at present. We go to sleep early and wake up early. We take exercise as often as possible by taking a walk (with forms) daily.

The most important aspect of self-isolation is the issue of mental health. I have never seen anything like this in my lifetime and if you take a moment to ponder on that, it can be terrifying. Being together in isolation gives us the chance to help each other get through as best we can. We check frequently on family members and avoid the doom stories in the press. Stephen Covey stated in his book ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ that we need to concentrate on issues that we can influence directly rather than global events that we cannot. The virus is a global event that has hit us all in some way but concentrating on what we can do for ourselves and our loved ones is essential.

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