This isolation thing seemed like a dream holiday for major-introverts at the beginning (yassss!).
But when week 2 rolled around, and I woke up Monday morning to another week at home… that cheering had disappeared.
As I stared down the face of another week in isolation I felt confused. What was I feeling? Was it… grief?!
And then the anxiety about our new way of living… visiting our local supermarket replete with rubber gloves.
I’m not nearly as jolly as I was last week.
And apparently I’m not alone.
Chatting with Lizzie the daytime host on Star FM for a segment on her show, she and I both realised we were feeling a bit of grief.
It’s heartbreaking to see what is happening to our community, to people, to individuals, to families, to countries, to friends, to neighbours, to local businesses, to ourselves…
There is plenty to be sad about. And yes, plenty to be grateful about too.
But right about now, lots of us are struggling to focus on the positives.
My psychologist told me yesterday that most of her clients are having a harder time this week, whereas they’d mostly been fine last week.
I guess the reality of our predicament, and the fact that there is no short-term fix has finally dawned on us all.
Our lives are changed for now. So how do we make the most of what we’ve got?
Here are 5 tips to help you banish those isolation blues for good:
1. Name It – “That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief”
Lizzie sent me a link to a super-helpful article on the Harvard Business Review website – entitled “That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief.”
Apparently all the folk working at HBR are feeling the same. So they interviewed a grief expert.
He suggested that understanding the 5 different stages of grief would help – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
The stages don’t happen linearly, you can move back and forward between them.
But just knowing what they are – and why you’re so angry one minute, then depressed the next – might just help you to treat yourself with a little more compassion during this really difficult time.
2. Keep Your Mind On This Moment – Practice Meditation
If ever you needed a good reason to motivate you to finally start a habit of meditation – take this as your sign, it’s time to start today.
Meditation helps us practice focusing on the hear and now, not worrying about tomorrow or yesterday. And there is nothing to be gained by worrying about where this pandemic will be tomorrow or next week or next month, it’s just going to cause you stress.
As a Jesus-loving gal I’m always reminded of the words that we should focus on today and not worry about our tomorrows.
Tomorrow is not something we can control, and worrying about what it will look like is not going to make it better.
It’s going to make you feel worse, cause anxiety and tension.
So grab your phone and head to your app store and grab a guided meditation app like Calm.
Start today with even 3-5 minutes of meditation and make it a daily habit.
The more regularly you meditate, the calmer you’ll feel, and the more aware you’ll become of your mind when it runs off into future worrying, or ruminating on past problems.
3. Start A Journal
For starters, if nothing else, this is a historical moment we are all living through right here.
No, it’s not a world war, but it’s the closest thing to it for this generation at the moment.
The Olympics have never been postponed before, but they have been in 2020.
Your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are going to read about this pandemic in their history books.
You have the opportunity to record your thoughts for them now.
And the best thing is – journalling helps you to identify negative thoughts and see problems building up and then you can do something about it.
I talked about this and more ideas in my blog post – 31 Super-Useful Things To Do During Isolation.
Including things you’re grateful for in the journal is also a fabulous way to boost the impact of this practice – studies show that gratitude journalling improves our mental health and strength.
4. Get Outdoors and Breath Slowly
I’m pretty sure I’ve seen more people outdoors walking during isolation than I’ve ever seen before.
It looks like people really are putting down their devices and getting out for some sunshine and vitamin D.
If you’re doing that, keep it up! Don’t underestimate the impact you’re having on BOTH your physical and mental health.
Physical activity is medicine for your body and mind.
One thing I’d add to that is your breathing – while you’re walking you’re probably breathing well, taking in big breaths of fresh air and breathing out clearly.
But then you sit down at your desk or on the couch, hunched over, and your breathing isn’t as efficient as it could be.
For those with anxiety, your breathing becomes shallower.
So we need to practice slow breathing – breathing in slowly, breathing out slowly.
When you do that, you’re telling your body that everything is okay and it can shut down the anxiety response.
The act of slow breathing literally causes biochemical changes that benefit your body, and turn off the chemical signals that worsen feelings of anxiety.
So practice breathing slowly in AND out, if you notice you’re feeling anxious or out of sorts.
5. Treat Yourself With Compassion
Maybe you started isolation with great plans to spring clean the house from top to bottom, or to complete every list on the to-do list you’ve been collecting for the past year.
But here you are, sitting on the couch, with no energy, feeling guilty because you can’t be bothered.
Sometimes we need to give ourselves a boot up the jacksie and get moving.
And sometimes we just need to treat ourselves with compassion and let it be.
Self-compassion is an important part of taking care of ourself, and if we’re not compassionate to ourselves it’s definitely going to impact your ability to eat intuitively and take care of yourself.
So there’s no better time to start treating yourself with compassion – check out this blog post of mine for more ideas on why it matters so much.
We’ll get through this one day at a time.
P.S. Do you feel like your eating has gone a little crazy during isolation? Grab a free copy of my PDF, The Ultimate Guide: 16 Reasons Why You Overeat And How To Fix Them.