The Week That Was; Notes From Forced Isolation

I work from home and even under the best of conditions, rarely go out apart from the one day I call my weekend…usually Saturday. Then I either go walking or spend the day with my wife relaxing and doing what we do. This coming weekend will be the first when that won’t really happen. We are on enforced lockdown with permission needed to go out. I have never known anything like this in my lifetime. The closest I have experienced was the energy crisis in the 70’s in the UK when electricity was not available after a certain time of the day and a three-day week was enforced. I remember as a teenager going to the shops with my parents and people complaining about other people buying more than they needed. I don’t even remember how long that lasted but my family were never closer before or after! There can be some positive aspects to a ‘bunkered-down’ situation.

Later today, I will attempt to get to the supermarket and stock up on supplies. I refuse to stockpile, preferring to believe that supply chains will continue to work. It saddens me to see people doing so and angry when you can make the safe assumption that some of that stock is being sold on at greatly increased prices.

It has been a strange week for us. There is a sense of abnormality around everything. Despite being at home most of the time anyway, I found a desire to go out. We are all permitted to go out and walk within a two kilometre distance of our home and I did so yesterday with my wife. The streets are deserted and our small medieval town is like a ghost town. Most people are observing the strict rules except for a small minority and there is a sense that the town authorities have things under control.

The hardest thing is to keep ourselves positive and free from ‘cabin-fever’. As I stated in an earlier post, we have built a routine to ensure we engage in productivity, relaxation, discussion and ‘me’ time. Has it worked? I would say after the first week yes, but I am looking at from the view of someone who has a heavy work schedule that defines much of what I do and plenty of work that I can catch up on and dig out of the pile marked ‘for later’. I see my wife as a good example. Living where we do, she was often out of the house and her movements have been greatly restricted, much more than mine. This is a more typical example of the effects of isolation.

It also mirrors many of my clients who are either working from home under isolation or are feeling the effects of increasing government intervention in countries where enforced lockdown is yet to be brought in. Many are anxious about the future and where we are heading and find it difficult to focus. Some are alone and rely on social media to relieve some of the boredom and isolation. My wife approached me with the idea of offering free calls to anyone who finds themselves struggling and I felt it was a great idea. I dealt with my first two calls this morning after posting last night.

Many people will be living with partners or family that suffer from anxiety and depression and the isolation for them will also mean supporting family members as well as keeping their own mental health above water. For anxious people, sometimes just telling them that everything will be ok is not enough. Anxious people like a rock they can lean on when the world becomes overwhelming. The people around them can help by ‘being there’ through anxiety attacks and exhibiting positive behaviour traits such as self-care and keeping an optomistic attitude.

We have found that taking one day at a time truly helps and making sure that day has a routine that is as close as possible to normal. Highlighting any positive aspects of being isolated together helps. I am of the strong opinion that under such conditions, relationships can improve for the better.

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