There is a lot of advice going around for how to deal with the pandemic we are all still facing, and the isolation this entails for many of us. The rules and laws of our country or region may require quarantine or we may be choosing self-isolation for self-protection.
The fact that the virus has taken hold again and that this ‘second wave’ has come in Europe’s winter months makes it seem especially hard to bear for many people and there are serious concerns about mental health for all age groups. If you are finding it difficult to cope don’t hesitate to get in touch with a medical person or helping organisation. These UK links have helpful advice for people of any country: Age UK and Mind. Always remember that it’s okay and sensible to ask for help when we need it.
Others may not feel they need such professional help but are nonetheless finding these times trying. For them some strategies for everyday coping may be useful. See also my previous post Emerging With Resilience
I loved an article by Brooke Anderson last year called “Six Daily Questions to Ask Yourself in a Quarantine”. They are :
- “What am I grateful for today?” The impact of gratitude on our mindset is becoming more and more recognised. Cultivating it can be really helpful if it doesn’t come naturally. You can keep a gratitude journal. Or every evening make of a note of three good things that happened that day and how they made you feel. A friend of mine does this then pops the notes in a jam jar which she opens at the end of the month so that she can read the notes again for a mood boost. See also my November 2018 post on Gratitude and Heart Health to read about the positive impact of gratitude on our health.
- “Who am I connecting with today?” Like Brooke Anderson I do not like the term ‘social distancing’. We need to keep physically distanced but need social contact as much if not more than ever. Hopefully there is someone you can connect with somehow every day, so try to make sure you do. If you feel you can’t call on the same people too often, then think whether there is someone, a neighbour or friend, that needs you to check on THEM. There are also countless online organisations, webinars, Zoom presentations, lectures etc that you can join that allow you to connect with others, often for free. If you are new to these ways of connecting, just have a try and you may get used to this different way of having company.
- “What expectation of ‘normal’ am I letting go of today?” This is an interesting question as some advisers recommend hanging on to normal routines in the home and ‘keeping busy’. Some even say make a schedule for your new quarantined days. Brooke Anderson suggests simply working out what is really important to you and focusing on that. I think this question is actually about self-kindness – that if you haven’t lived up to your usual standards go easy on yourself, you are managing challenging times.
- “How am I getting outside today?” Fresh air and a change of scenery is good for us physically and mentally. If you are fortunate you may be able to get close to nature which uplifts us all. You may have woodland, water, a park or a garden which is easily accessible. All of these things nourish and calm us. But just getting out of your home for a moment, even to look up at the stars and the moon, will be good for you.
- “How am I moving my body today?” EVERYONE advises us to take care of our physical health by keeping moving in whatever way we can. There is a chance that in quarantine we do less exercise than usual. So we need to consciously build it into our day somehow. When we are feeling low or anxious, physical exercise also gets us out of our over-thinking heads and into our bodies. It makes us feel good mentally as well as physically.
- “What beauty am I creating, cultivating or inviting in today?” A great question, and obviously open to many ideas, even if you do not feel you are creative yourself (though I bet you are!) Creativity can be found in so many different ways, in gardening, sewing, decorating your home, cooking or writing. When we immerse ourselves in something creative we can lose sense of time and thoughts about our worries. It’s worth quoting Brooke Anderson here: “Beauty is a powerful antidote to despair. Recognizing the beauty in the world and bringing it into our lives is an affirmation of the life that still exists and is worth fighting for. Becoming creators, not just consumers, of culture gives us agency and power. So, let’s write about our lives, draw our dreams, sing our sorrows, plant gardens, cook for our neighbors … and create culture to survive the hard times wherever and however we can.”
Brooke ends by saying the idea is that you ask the questions and not over-stress on the answers, and wonders what other questions would you ask yourself every day?