Coping In A World Of Isolation.
Although the introduction of the government road-map has alleviated a lot of the stress of the unknown and given the nation a common goal to work towards, it doesn’t make the prospect of isolating a less harrowing one. The road-map focuses on the 4 steps towards a new ‘normal’. (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-response-spring-2021/covid-19-response-spring-2021-summary) However, in all of these steps, there is still some form of isolation, whether it’s a ‘Stay At Home’ order or reviewing the chances of being able to hug our loved ones. This is why it is important that we understand how to cope in a world of lockdowns and isolation.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, the definition of isolated is: ‘having minimal contact or little in common with others.’ (https://languages.oup.com/google-dictionary-en/) – Whether you are living alone or with family, you are still being isolated all the same. Missing those cores sectors that requires humans to thrive in an environment. It’s important to ensure we are self-aware of how much social time we are losing, within each sector, and how this may impact us and our feelings of isolation. The sectors are:
· Work: Rather than an office atmosphere, working from home means to face-to-face interaction with our peers. Already that is approximately 40 hours in a week where we miss quality social interaction time. Working from home stints quality team building, task turnaround time and a ‘team’ atmosphere.
Health: With gyms being closed and the number of people/households being allowed to meet minimised, interaction cannot come from exercise. No running groups, gym classes or establishments have been able to open. According to NHS research, we should ‘do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity a week.’ (https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/ ) This is approximately 2.5 hours of a week, that could be spent in a gym or with an exercise group.
Social time: Non – essential establishments have been closed for the majority of the past year. Meaning extracurricular activities or social time (such as coffee, dinners etc) have not been able to go ahead. Experts suggest seeing a ‘good friend’ is necessary once a week. On average, 2 good friends in a week where on average a lunch or dinner takes 3 hours. That’s 6 hours of social time lost.
Family: Relaxed schedules means that although families are working from home, they might not be available for conversation. Alternatively, open schedules can result in meeting pushed later, to cram more into a day. To average this, losing 2 hours in extra work, later meetings and ‘let me just answer this’ mindsets.
Already that is 50.5 hours, a week where we isolated from our usual routine. This doesn’t include the times when we decide to choose solitude (also known as voluntary isolation). This is why it is important to remember our circumstance and try to find ways to stay engaged. We have taken the time to research and implement ways to cope with isolation. These are some of the way we have found work the best:
· Change your mindset: Vocabulary is a strong tool. The words we choose impact our thoughts, emotions and perception. Swap the term ‘social distancing’ for ‘physical distancing’. Remind yourselves that, in this day of age, not physically seeing someone does not mean any chance of interaction is impossible. Consider using ‘distant socialising’ – highlight that it is still socialisation and we are in the lucky position that this technology was developed before the pandemic. It is just now, a tool rather than new ios feature.
· Quality time with family: This seems like the most obvious solution and many are well versed in the art of occupying family. Even though schools are back, use the evenings to spend this time together. More for yourself. Do not forget that you still need to make sure you are not feeling isolated.
· Take a break from the news: Many people have decided to use lockdown as a time to take a break from social media, even deleting the apps from their phones. This positively impacts our lives as less time can be spent looking at the news, statistics and an entire populations worth of opinions. This will eventually lead into a mind-set of ‘waiting for this to be over’. Take advantage of the time you have and consider the positives you have gained because of lockdown. Limit your intake of, you can still stay informed without engrossing yourself onto shocking headlines and scary predictions. Remember, always use trusted outlets. Facebook and Twitter should be used as primary news collection but never as secondary research.
· Practice Gratitude: Simply, finding something to be grateful for, every day, improves your mood.
· Create something: There is a reason artists immerse themselves in their work. Expressing yourself through a creative means can be therapeutic.
· Voluntary Isolation: This can also be referred to as mediation or ‘chosen solitude’. There is many occasions where you may choose to be alone and is a healthy way to ensure that you are finding time to adjust or reset. This can be done during completing menial tasks (cooking and cleaning) or setting aside time like reading or watching a film.
Coping in a world of isolating is imperative in the success of the road-map. Not feeling cooped up or stuck means that everyone is more inclined to take the advice to the fullest extent. Staying home, where possible, reduces the risk of spreading COVID-19. If we all continue to adhere to the guidelines, less trips out will ensure the decline in spreading of the virus. So remember:
‘Let’s take the next step, safely. Hands - Face – Space – Fresh Air’
Here are some links to other articles and blogs that we found useful: