So like a lot of people, to practice good social distancing, I’ll be working from home for the next couple months. I’m going to miss the faces of my co-workers, and of all of the students who come into the office. All of my upcoming D&D sessions will probably have to be postponed or moved online. And my cat will (inevitably) interrupt many zoom meetings.
But as someone with an anxiety disorder, my mental health will probably be impacted too. I’m a massive introvert, but even I can see that 2+ months of isolation is going to be very lonely and very difficult. And it’s all too easy to get stuck scrolling through twitter. We are getting bombarded with new information every day, and all it takes is getting caught up in it all to send you spiralling.
Tips to keep your Mental Wellbeing in Check during Self-isolation
So here’s some ways I think you can make social distancing and self-isolation a little easier for yourself.
Reorganise Your Space
First of all, reorganise the space around you so that you feel as safe and comfortable as possible. Now is the perfect time to change your bedsheets, give your space a hoover, and open the windows to let some fresh air in. You’re going to have to exist in this space for a while longer than you normally would, so take your time with it. If you’re going to be working or learning from home, set up a space to do so. I’ve thrown together an improvised standing desk at my kitchen counter, perfect for making sure I’m not spending all day sitting down. This also gives you something to do that’s not scrolling through twitter threads and catastrophising, so you’re able to pull yourself away from the information overload for a while.
Maintain a Routine
Secondly, try to maintain a routine. I’m not saying you have to have an early rise every single morning, but having a time that you wake up and a time that you go to sleep helps to maintain a semblance of normalcy. And while you’re at it, try not to spend every day in PJs either. People like to say that they dress for themselves, so now is the time to do it! Really dress up if you want to. Wear something that you’ve been nervous to wear out. And on the days you choose to wear PJs, change into a different set when it’s time for bed.
Keep Fit Indoors
Sadly, we’ve had to close our gym at Strathclyde, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t keep active. If you’re practising social distancing, go out for a walk or run around your local neighbourhood or park (if still permitted). Not only do you get a bit of exercise in, but also some much needed fresh air. I also find that going a walk in my local park always helps clear my head a bit, so if you’re feeling overwhelmed it can be a great way to disconnect from everything and just relax. If you have to self isolate, you can also get in a bit of exercise at home. You might feel a bit silly doing a workout in your home at first, but there’s nobody there to judge you so just go for it! You can find great tutorials online as well as free Apps to get you going.
Keep in Touch
Social distancing doesn’t always mean that you can’t be social. A lot of people are talking about having zoom and skype meetings with advisors or co-workers right now. But you can use those same platforms to talk to your friends as well. Even though my D&D sessions can’t happen in person, that doesn’t mean I can’t have a game over skype or discord. And if you have elderly or immunocompromised friends and family, give them a call to check-in and see how they’re doing.
Give Yourself a Break
Probably most importantly, take breaks from social media. It’s important to stay informed, sure, so seek updates and advice from reputable sources like WHO and CDC when you need to. But there are other things that you could be doing other than falling down a rabbit hole of information. Take up a hobby. Watch that movie you’ve been meaning to for a while. Listen to some podcasts. I would even recommend blocking words that you’re finding particularly triggering right now.
So yeah, the next wee while is probably going to be difficult for a lot of us. But we need to keep looking after ourselves. Now is the time to step up our self-care and really look after ourselves.