Suddenly the world has come to terms with this new word of the year “isolation” – self-isolation, forced isolation, quarantine, and lockdowns – due to COVID-19.
Being in isolation does not however mean that you need to feel isolated!
Loneliness and reduced social contact can lead to depression and we want our fellow Aussies to feel connected at this time of massive change and adjustment.
So being an entrepreneurial type, and having a few of my clients experiencing the isolation, I’ve put together some helpful, fun and creative ideas for you to try. Just by opening your mind to the idea that isolation could be a relaxing or fulfilling experience to help reduce your stress rather than increase it, and help you to feel more in control and less overwhelmed.
What are some of the ideas myself, clients, colleagues, family and friends have created in the last few weeks? Well the list is long!
Find the Opportunities in Isolation
1 – Gardening is something that can be fun. Look outside at your yard or patio, you might give it a go trying to give yourself some greenery and maybe some herbs, veges or fruit for the future. Your yard isolation might include a total renovation of the yard, remember buy online, let them drop it at your front door, don’t go out if you are supposed to be isolated.
2 – Call a few close friends and family, ask them if you get stuck if they can help out. Rather than wait till you feel nervous about running out, just ask them in advance. Planning support is really important and remember, you cannot greet your friends, you must remain inside and wait till they leave before you pick up whatever they drop off.
3 – Most people in isolation have realised their home base is a bit neglected. Have you looked at your windows closely? Have you really had time to mop, clean the fridge or pantry or even scarier … what about the garage? Okay, realistically I just created about 6 weeks of activities, but try one or two and that way when you are out of isolation then these jobs will help you feel more in control of your home space.
4 – It would seem teenagers have expertise in isolation … that is if you can find them under their belongings in their room at the end of a gaming console. Some parents have decided to learn to play with their children. The words I hear are: “I wasn’t that bad and I got to see my kid laughing at me trying”, “I didn’t realise how hard this game was till I tried”, “We spend time together after the house work is done and I found it fun”. While we hear lots of bad things about gaming addiction, now is a good time to turn it into a family “isolation” activity. Move the console into the family room so everyone can have a go.
5 – Long lost friends – we all have friends’ numbers in our phone, on our facebook, in our emails that we … well … forgot about. Why not pick out one each day and call someone? After a few years that cousin living in some remote place you haven’t seen for 8 years might like a chat. Normally we don’t have time to chat but why not? Just try it!
6 – Arrange your photos – this one is on my list. Thousands of photos on my phone, they need organising. Most need deleting. Why do I really have so many photos of the new lounge I wanted to buy 12 months ago? Allocate 30 minutes each day to photo organising. Easy done!
7 – Exercise is a bit of struggle. The gyms are closed, so lots are feeling unhappy about the options. Some of my clients have invented fun ways to exercise at home: jog around your own yard, make the most of a hill, steps are fun on a real step, play some music and dance, find a workout online and give it a go. No fancy equipment needed, just try something new. I tried out yoga online the other day and found it easy enough.
8 – Holiday planning. Now this is a strange one given the travel ban, however when society comes back around and we travel again it might be nice to have researched what is fun to see, fun to do. Create an itinerary of somewhere you might like to go and just keep it for a rainy day in the future when life returns to normal. This will help you feel like you have a goal, and help you to adjust to the idea the limitations are for a time and that you just have to get through them now.
9 – Board games . Time to dust off the board games and make your mind work harder! Young people might not even remember that we had real games without a console, but why not have fun and give them a try. A pack of cards can lead to hours of fun. Remember if you are in isolation you can only play with those in isolation with you.
10 – Learn a course online or teach yourself. As an entrepreneur, I love time to learn stuff. Stuff might include how to make a website, how to use the internet, how to use Office/Excel, learn a language or an instrument. The list is never ending, you really can be isolated for years and never get to the end of things you can learn.
11 – Music. If you play an instrument now is the time to spend the time to improve your skills; if you listen to music make a few playlists. Music is a wonderful and energising activity that helps relax our minds, gets us away from the mundane.
12 – Food. It seems the world is preoccupied with starving for some silly reason and panic isn’t helping. Last time I checked lots of local organise food producers did home delivery and could drop off some top range food right to your door. Why not try to boost your health by eating healthy, find that recipe book and try your hand at something fun or different. Imagine if you tried out a new recipe every day for 14 days. You will feel accomplished, you will eat well making your own food from scratch, and one day when we can again socialise you might repeat that recipe and invite over a friend or two.
13 – Stress Management. Read a self help book or two. What can you do to manage your stress and improve your health? Stress is like a dripping tap. It’s not that the stress is bad, but constant chronic stress runs our body down. Excessive stress may also lead to mental health issues. Plan to curtail your exposure to ongoing stress. Our counselling centre even offers Isolation Counselling. We found that our clients wanted more counselling but not long sessions for mental health. Short quick sessions over the phone when they feel overwhelmed seemed a better service at present. Read more on the topic if that suits you needs and if you normally wouldn’t have considered counselling an option.
14 – Craft. Whether you are into woodwork, knitting, painting, making cards, presents for Christmas … Just have a think about what you have in the back of your cupboard and pull it out for fun. Even colouring in can be great fun.
So you have a busy 14 days even if you are stuck at home in isolation!
What might a Day in Isolation Look Like?
In the morning get up when you normally do, eat a healthy breakfast, go for a stretch in the yard with the yoga video on your tablet, water the garden.
Come back inside for some music and meditation, then pull out that annoying cupboard and sort it out, stop for a few healthy snacks and then get stuck into your photo library to sort that out.
Call that friend you found on social media, chat for ages about how they are going.
Text your partner and send a fun pic or two, especially that new trick you taught your pet.
Make that healthy lunch, now study, study, study so you know a bit of French for your next trip to Europe, look up some information on travel, and then dive into that course online on making a website/blog.
Too much thinking, so back outside for some sun. Ring mum and see what she is up to while you walk around the yard, water the herbs you planted yesterday. Now you’ve noticed the kitchen window is filthy – give it a clean, put on the washing and while the ironing has never really been done, now is the time to conquer the pile!
It’s now dinner and you are trying a French recipe because today is a French type of day and you are feeling inspired after learning some new phrases in the language. Using your online order and a few things dropped off earlier that day by your friend down the road, you are ready to master that recipe on MKR you never thought possible. So it took them 50 minutes … but roughly 2 hours later you have your masterpiece!
It’s important to update your “I’m in isolation save me” Instagram, so post the photo of your meal. Now all your friends are super jealous and want to come over, but they cannot and you are not sorry because you have promised them a dinner at your place in a few months with the same dish!
Ready to relax and catch up on Netflix (after a brief look at the news that you are actively avoiding), find a good book, text a few friends telling them you are bored but coping. Look forward to the new workout you saved for tomorrow, the garage needs a bit a love and your friend from school wants to chat when they get home from work tomorrow. Plan your day ahead and you will soon have made the experience of being at home and in isolation, far more enjoyable!
Author: Vivian Jarrett, B Psych (Hons), MAPS, MAICD.
Vivian Jarrett is the Clinic Director at Vision Psychology in Mt Gravatt and now M1 Psychology at Loganholme. She is passionate about providing high quality psychology services to Australians from all walks of life.
To make an appointment try Online Booking. Alternatively, you can call Vision Psychology Mt Gravatt on (07) 3088 5422 or M1 Psychology Brisbane on (07) 3067 9129.