How to Maintain Your Mental Health in Self Isolation
Right now, we’re going through a weird and lonely time. Isolation is not a state of being that many of us would choose to enter optionally. But it’s the state we’re currently in, and therefore we need to find ways to maintain our mental health in self-isolation during coronavirus.
I wanted to write this post as I am someone with diagnosed generalised anxiety disorder, who has had therapy to help me manage it, and who is struggling as much as the next person with self-isolation and the lack of knowledge surrounding coronavirus, or when this ‘new normal’ will be over.
But this is how I maintain my mental health during this pandemic.
Focus on your physical health
It sounds so simple, and yet it is true. To stay mentally healthy right now, we need to stay as physically healthy as we can. I don’t mean start doing yoga at home and running laps around the garden – although if you want to, by all means! But by following the guidelines, such as washing your hands, maintaining social distance where possible, and avoiding cross-contamination as much as is humanly possible. If you do what you can to avoid getting yourself and others sick, then you’re in control.
Talk and socialise as much as possible, not about coronavirus!
Now is not the time to worry if you’re being too clingy or bothering someone. If you need to talk to someone, phone them, FaceTime them, email, or WhatsApp. Whether it be a work colleague, a friend, a family member or your next-door neighbour over the fence. Talking and maintaining your social life as much as possible will help you eliminate some of the loneliness we’re all undoubtedly going to feel during this self-isolation period.
Turn off the news and mute your social media
The news is just full of horrible things right now. Instead of looking at the number of people who have caught the virus and have recovered, they’re focusing on broadcasting the number of deaths and the growing sense of unease. Turn off the news. And mute your social media, if you can’t delete it outright because of socialisation. On Twitter I’ve muted words like ‘pandemic’, ‘corona’, ‘panic buys’, and ‘virus’ as I don’t need to see this every time I work or check my socials just before I sleep.
Sleep, and don’t look at your phone before bed
To avoid stress dreams and insomnia, I highly recommend you don’t look at your phone for at least half an hour before you turn out your light and go to sleep. Put your phone in another room if you can, to make sure of it. The last thing you need to see before bed is news that the virus is spreading or that another country has gone into lockdown. It will make you restless and unable to sleep well, and then in turn you’re mentally weaker the next day to dismiss any further anxiety that arises.
Think about what you can do, and only what you can do
Stop worrying about everyone else, and what everyone else is doing. Think about what you can do. You can wash your hands, you can self-isolate, you can batch-make food, you can order things online. You can read a book, you can talk to friends, you can help your neighbours by leaving a food parcel or dropping them a note with your phone number for emergencies. Just be sensible.
Our mental health is just as important as our physical health, and now is not the time to be ignoring it. Doctor appointments are still available over the phone if you need to discuss medications or help. You can also call 111 or Samaritans if you are feeling very very low.
No matter what, remember that you’re not a burden and everyone is going through this together. So we have to be here for each other.