We will all now be familiar with the mantra “Stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives”. On the face of it this instruction sounds relatively simple and straight forward. But what is the reality of having to stay at home and not have contact with people?
I feel fortunate to live with my husband and daughter but I am missing social contact with my wider network of friends. I miss seeing my counselling clients in person. Although zoom has enabled us to still see each other, it is no substitute for being a room with someone. I miss my pregnancy yoga class and the little chats I have with other expectant Mums. I miss my Mum friends who share in the same trials and tribulations of dealing with a strong willed toddler. I miss going to sing with the Military Wives Choir, where I get to escape doing bath time/bedtime for one evening a week and have a sing song with some wonderful women. I miss popping in to see my neighbours for a brew if we are passing and have an hour to spare.
From the moment we are born, we are programmed to attach to our primary caregivers. By forming a relationship, we ensure our physiological and emotional needs are met. The need to be in relationship with others continues throughout our life. In essence we are social beings; we gravitate towards being with others and need to feel part of a community to thrive. In the words of John Donne, “No man is an island”.
There is no sugar coating it; being in self isolation is hard. But there are things we can all do to manage it as best we can.
- Stay in contact with people – We are lucky to have a range of technologies to keep us in contact virtually such as Facetime, Skype, Zoom. Of course it’s not the same as physically being with someone, but they can help bridge the gap. I have been spending much of my more time messaging and speaking to people on the phone. I have heard from people whom I haven’t heard from for a while and it’s been just great to re-connect.
- Keep a routine – Whilst it might be tempting to get up late and stay in your pj’s until lunch time, don’t do it! Continue to get up at a reasonable time, stick to meal times and try and keep things as normal as you can. If you are used to going to the gym for an early morning workout, you can still do this by accessing a virtual class or following an exercise class on youtube.
- Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t – Try to see this as an opportunity to spend time doing jobs which usually get pushed to the bottom of the pile. Tackle those little DIY jobs, reorganise your wardrobe, sort through the big stack of paperwork which has been sitting on your desk for far too long.
- Practice self care – If there is one thing I can recommend everyone does right now, its self care, self care and more self care! Whatever you can do to shift your focus away from the Coronavirus is imperative. Read a book, watch a film, have a bath, take a walk, use meditation apps such as Headspace or calm, practice yoga, take some deep breaths.