How to stay well while self-isolating
Updated: Mar 27, 2020
As we adjust to working from home, 'social distancing' and periods of self-isolation during the COVID-19 outbreak, there are things we can all do to make it easier and to improve our wellbeing over the coming months.
Ways to stay mentally and physically well while self-isolating
Prioritise routine and structure
As humans, we crave routine and it is a great way to soothe our sense of uncertainty and unease. Wake up at the same time each day, get dressed for work even if you're at home (resist that urge to stay in pajamas), take a lunch break, finish work at the right time, and go to bed about the same time each night.
If you're not working, split your day into portions of activity e.g cleaning, reading, meal times, phone calls with friends and family, and relaxation.
If you have a large enough home, spending different portions of the day in different rooms is also a good way to create a more varied routine and provide mental stimulation.
Separate work and life
As I work from home, I know this is a tricky one! The best way to do this is to create an "office" for yourself that is separate from your main living space. If you don't have a spare room to do this, even creating a small area in your lounge or kitchen where you can have your work set up, that is not where you would normally sit to relax, will make a big difference.
It's so tempting to sit on the sofa with your laptop, but it can make it very challenging to switch off mentally when you're finished with work.
Use a "transition" activity
To signal to your brain that you're done with work and you're now moving into down time, it's useful to plan in a "transition" activity. This could be meditation, exercise, going for a walk or cooking dinner. Even changing out of your work clothes into something casual will help.
Connect with others
Connection is so important to our wellbeing and overall health. Learning new ways to connect with others during this time will build your resilience and support your mental and physical health.
Texting is good, but FaceTiming or another form of video chat, or a phone call, is even better. Plan these calls in and focus solely on catching up with that person during your call.
Group chat platforms like Zoom allow you to catch up with multiple people at once. You could try a cyber "dinner" or "exercise class" where you all eat or work out together virtually!
Help support elderly, vulnerable or isolated neighbours to stay connected too, by checking in with phone calls.
Take time each day to relax
The best way we can support our immune system is to reduce stress (not super easy in the midst of a pandemic though, right?) Use activities that move you from mind to body and let you focus on the present, like meditation, breathing exercises, creative activities like drawing, yoga, reading or taking a bath.
Headspace is a fantastic resource to help you learn meditation and they're currently providing free meditation practices for all.
Even if you're self-isolating, the UK government is currently advising that you can go outside to exercise for a short period once a day (you will need to take all precautions not to come into contact with others, and avoid public spaces).
Being outside, in the fresh air and sun, is linked to numerous benefits for our mental and physical health. You can also keep windows open to let fresh air in when it's warm enough. If you're lucky enough to have a garden or balcony, spend time out there when you can.
Get moving daily
Continuing to exercise, whether it's jogging on the spot, an at-home yoga practice or bodyweight resistance exercises in your living room, is essential for our physical and mental health. It's also a fantastic way to support your immune system too. If you're not able to go outside for a walk, pick an "at home" activity that works for you.
Yoga with Adriene has brilliant Yoga practices for all levels and abilities, including specific practices for older people or those practicing in a chair. You will definitely get your quota of calm from her videos too!
Finally... focus on what you can control
Although we cannot control a lot of this situation, focusing in on what you can control while self-isolating during the outbreak is very helpful. Look after yourself and your family by incorporating a lot of self care and talking about what you're grateful for. We will come through the outbreak by working together and supporting each other.
You can also control how much news you consume. The amount of coverage on COVID-19 is overwhelming! Try limiting checking news reports and social media to once a day to stay up to date, but prevent the endless scrolling that can increase your anxiety.
If you'd like to talk through any concerns you have about how to stay well while self-isolating, maintain healthy habits while working from home, or discuss practical steps to take to improve your family's health and wellbeing during this time, I offer a free 50 minute consultation, and now hold all sessions with clients over video chat or via phone.
Get in touch to schedule your appointment.
Of course, if you are struggling emotionally, please reach out for support from friends and family or speak to your GP about professional support from a therapist. If you choose to seek help privately, the Counselling Directory offers details of counsellors and therapists, many of whom can provide appointments online so you don't need to leave your home.