Humans are social creatures by nature, so if you’re told to stay at home for up to 12 weeks, it will naturally be a challenge to stay focused and positive, while keeping the worry and anxiety caused by this unsettling period in check.
Psychologist and life coach Jivan Dempsey shares some valuable tips on how to cope with self isolation and build resilience for when we emerge from this difficult time:
Keep a routine: It’s easy to become a couch potato binging on boxsets. A routine is really important to stay mentally alert. Try to get up at the same time, work and remember to take breaks. If it helps why not get dressed as if you were in the office? Make quiet time part of this routine to contemplate and recharge your batteries.
Set up virtual social time: Videoconferencing is a great way to stay connected while we are working from home but why not use it to connect with your friends too? Hold regular virtual get togethers and maybe a weekly party. It’s not quite the same as being together in the same place but a great alternative way of having fun. Be creative!
Be a friend: Look out for your friends and colleagues that seem quiet or isolated. They may be struggling and need support. Listen to what they’re saying and challenge any negative thinking or catastrophising. This will help them see things in perspective. More importantly be a friend to those who aren’t engaging or talking and reach out to them. They may need your help more than anybody.
Daily mindfulness: Even if it’s only for 15-20 minutes per day it will help to ground you and calm any feelings of stress and anxiety. It also gives you the personal space you need if you’re cooped up with your family all day long.
Have fun with your kids: Now that the schools are closed and the kids are also at home we have to find a way of working and rubbing along together that’s going to be productive. It’s going to be hard on you, but it’s also going to be hard on them. Let your kids into your work space and encourage them to do their ‘work’—draw pictures or read a book—while you do yours. Set in breaks so you can interact with your kids, comment on their work, praise them and give them lots of positive strokes. You will find a pattern that works for you all over time. Remember it’ll be frustrating for them as well. After this initial period of adapting and upheaval, things will settle into a routine for you and your children. And if all else fails, there is always children’s TV! Try to structure your work routine around the kids and the interruptions—this should help to make it a more positive experience for you all.
Stay fit and well: It feels like it’s getting harder to go out and get fresh air. But it's important that we can go out for some exercise to get the endorphins pumping. Set up a makeshift gym in the garden, check out virtual exercise classes like yoga and try to do them outside in the garden or balcony where you can, but with distance from other people.
Prepare for the other side: It’s important to remain positive, this is temporary and business will bounce back. If you’re an entrepreneur, it’s a scary time. Think about your business and how you could remodel it. Can you take your business online? What additional value can you offer to your clients? What new services or products could you offer? If you’re an employee now is the time to really focus on what you want to do. Perhaps it’s a new career or more training? Maybe now is the time to write that book?
Jivan is leading free daily mindfulness classes at 1pm called '20 Mindful Minutes’ on her Facebook page. She also works with clients with social anxiety issues and low self confidence to offer support through this time.