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  • Writer's pictureMaria Alda Gomez Otero

8 Tips for self-isolation

Updated: Mar 25, 2020

Our Prime Minister was very clear yesterday about the coronavirus and our need to self-isolate. We all need to stay at home to avoid spreading the virus. Some of us have experience of working from home and spending a lot of time in the house. But others might be used to go to work, do evening activities, and meet up with friends. Especially if you live on your own, being at home all the time can become boring and depressing. To avoid developing symptoms of depression: general low mood, withdrawn behaviour, outbursts of anger, tendency to isolate, poor concentration, it is important to be aware that this can be a difficult time for you.

This post is inspired on a video circulating in whatsup. In the video, a lady who is in her 3rd week self-isolating in South Korea gives four tips to avoid developing symptoms of depression. It is also based on my past experience of over 10 years working as a self-employed translator from home and practically not seeing anyone during the day.

1) Keep a routine

What I often tell my clients, to their dismay, is that our bodies love routine. For our physical, as well as mental, health, keeping a routine is essential. Our bodies love waking up at the same time, eating at the same time, sleeping at the same time day after day. Even if you are no longer working, it would be a good idea if you could keep your routine as much as possible: get up at your usual time, engage into activities for a number of hours, as you used to do at work, have lunch at approximately the same time, live your life as you used to, except from your home. Of course, too much routine can bring boredom and depression, so it is up to you to find a right balance between routine and spontaneous breaks of routine. You can still treat weekends as a special time when you break your routine and do something special.

2) Stay away from the news

You will be inclined to read all the news about the coronavirus, share videos, express your opinion, get immersed into this turmoil that is carrying all of us. If you can, it would be a good idea to keep your news scanning to a minimum. Just check what is going on at a particular time in the day, and then switch off. Populate your mind with other thoughts: your dreams, your wishes, your creative endeavours, your loved ones, yes, even your favourite Netflix series. Anything that doesn’t remind you of the virus, as your whole life does not revolve around this virus.

3) Exercise

There is nothing that our bodies welcome more than exercise for our well-being. Go to youtube or any other video platforms that you have access to, and follow your favourite exercise form videos. My favourite exercises for mental wellbeing are tai chi and qigong exercises. They are very meditativeand and you can also do them when not feeling too well, as they are very gentle. Here is a video of some qigong exercises to enhance your immune system. It is in French for all my French-speaking readers.

4) Dress to impress

Being at home does not mean that you need to wear your pyjamas or joggings all day. In fact, you will feel better if you dress as if you were going to work. You might even want to choose a special occasion attire for your weekend. Take your time choosing your clothes, have fun, make-up, try different hairstyles, and enjoy your reflection in the mirror. This is a time when you could be re-acquainted with yourself on a deep level, accepting who you are inside and out.

5) Spend time outside or let the outside in

A counsellor in Exeter recommends a very interesting practice, not only during this crisis, but at any time in your life. However, this self-isolation time sounds like a brilliant opportunity to test it. He reckons that 15 minutes outside every day will make a difference to your mental well-being. If you have time, extend it to 30 minutes or even an hour. Get out into your garden or your balcony. Open your window and feel the freshness of the wind and the cold breeze. There is not better healer than fresh air.

Check the suggestion about sitting outdoors here:

6) Keep connected

Being away from your family and friends does not mean that you can’t communicate with them. Social media helps people stay in contact. Continue posting your favourite songs, ideas, articles in FB, sharing your picts in Instagram, creating groups in whatsup and sharing videos and stories. You can also use Messenger, zoom, whatsup, skype or any other platform to video talk to your friends/ family. And don’t forget the outdated phone calls!!! Or send audio messages instead of text messages. There is something really special about hearing your loved one’s voices. If you miss having a party, you can download House party app, which will allow you to host a virtual house party with different friends, each one at the other side of their laptop.

You can also plan your self-isolation with a friend. Especially if you live on your own, you can agree with a friend to self-isolate together so that both of you are in contact, visiting each other on each other’s houses, but not spreading the virus further. It makes self-isolation more doable if you live alone. If you are a family, you can self-isolate with another part of your family or another family friend of yours. You can both offer support to each other this way. Unfortunately, this might not be such a great idea for people who are high risk.

7) Enjoy your hobbies or take up one

Singing, dancing, playing an instrument, drawing, painting, incl. walls, restoring old furniture, making jigsaws, playing boardgames, exercising, cooking, baking, ceramics, mosaics, felting, crocheting, knitting, reading, writing, doing crosswords, sudokus, origamis, watching TV, playing videogames, meditating, de-cluttering, tidying up, (errr, wait a minute, these last two are not a hobby, but maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad idea), creating songs, recording funny videos, taking indoor pictures, creating photo albums, recycling old things and creating something new, you name it!

8) Sleep

After such a busy day self-isolating, please find time to sleep as much as you can. Sleep is the best thing you can do to restore your body to health: it will boost your immune system and repair all the tissues that need attention in your body. If you have trouble sleeping, you might wish to try to take some calming herbal teas, listen to a progressive muscular relaxation, guided meditation or similar audio, etc.

I hope these tips will help you in these strange times we are living in. If you feel overwhelmed by your situation, please reach out. There are many good counsellors at the other end of the phone, skype or zoom. If you are unsure about counselling online, just check it out. It might surprise you how lively it is. I try to make sure my clients have a normal experience in as much as possible. Best of luck!

If you liked this post, you might want to sign up for other similar posts in I usually publish about one post per month, although in these extreme circumstances, you might see more than that.

© Alda Counselling - Online, Exeter & Teignmouth

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