Updated: Jul 20
I think we can all agree that this is a very strange and worrying time we are all going through. You may be surrounded by family and find yourself really busy trying to work from home as well as educate and entertain your children. You may be living alone and seeing very few people. You may still be going out to work as a key worker who is helping to keep the world turning and make sure the rest of us are being fed and cared for. Perhaps you have had to separate from your family to keep them safe while you do this. Whatever your particular circumstances, this is a very worrying time for everyone and we will all have had our usual routines and daily life disrupted in some way. For some, it feels as though their whole life has been turned upside down.
So, what can we do to make this time as bearable, maybe even as enjoyable, as possible?
Do Something Fun and Rewarding
Do you have a hobby that you enjoy? Is there some gardening or DIY you could be getting on with? Is there something you’ve always wanted to learn, such as another language? Now is a great time to do all those things you never previously had time for. Sit down and write a list of things you have always fancied trying and then search the internet for lessons. There are plenty of people currently sharing their skills and expertise for free so go online and explore. Get excited about the possibilities.
Some great free sites to explore are:
Or search Youtube for some great videos to get you started on other skills such as drawing, painting or learning to play a musical instrument (if you have one!).
Create a Routine
It's important to make sure you are using your time wisely and not slipping into anxiety or depression. It's tempting to get up at noon, sit around in your pyjamas and watch Netflix whilst bingeing on cereal and crisps, but it honestly won't make you feel good long-term. Don't be tempted to slip into those habits!
Instead, get up at the same time every day and follow your usual morning routine. Have a shower, get dressed and eat breakfast and plan to start your work or other activities by a certain time every morning.
Set a schedule and stick to it. You might be working from home, so set your schedule for the week and plan in all the tasks that need doing. If you have decided to spend time learning a new skill or practising a hobby, then decide how much time you will dedicate to that and schedule it into your daily routine.
Try to eat your meals at the times you would normally and avoid snacking through boredom. If you are keeping yourself busy, that will reduce the temptation to snack. If you have noticed that your diet has gone downhill since you've been home, what are you snacking on? These decisions start when you go shopping, so think about the food that you’re bringing into the house. If you don’t have it available, you can’t be tempted by it. Instead of stocking up on crisps, biscuits and chocolate, buy fresh fruit and vegetables and have nuts and seeds to snack on.
Instead of just sitting back and watching TV, occupy yourself with something that keeps your hands busy so that they are not free to snack.
When you have finished your evening meal, brush your teeth to signify to yourself that you have finished eating for the day.
Keep busy during the day and don’t be tempted to nap. This will interfere with your usual sleeping patterns.
Spend some time outside in your garden or go for a walk. If you are unable to do this then at least open some windows to make sure you are getting fresh air.
Try to do some kind of physical exercise every day. You could go for a brisk walk, run or go for a cycle ride outside if you are able to. You could try an online exercise programme, such as Joe Wicks’s daily workout. If you prefer something more gentle, find an online yoga or Pilates class that suits you. Even putting on some of your favourite music and dancing around the house will help. A great project is to create a "Happy Songs" playlist either by yourself or with the family. What would you have on your playlist?
Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time in the morning. We are creatures of habit and we love routine.
Stop using screens at least an hour before you go to bed. If possible, don’t even watch TV before bed. Read a book, take a hot bath or shower, listen to a fun podcast, radio play or some relaxing music as you wind down for the night. You could also do some meditation or hypnosis. Please try this session that I recorded last week. It is also available to download on the Free Audios page of my website.
If you really can’t sleep then get up for a while and go into another room. Get a hot drink and read a book or magazine until you start to feel more relaxed and sleepy. Don’t lie awake worrying.
It is completely normal to be experiencing anxiety and worry right now. There is a lot to think about and none of us knows how this will all pan out in the end. Everything has been put on hold and nobody seems to know when we’ll be able to make plans again. You might be feeling anxious about your health and the worry of catching the Covid-19 virus. You could be worried about family and friends becoming ill. Many of us are anxious about finances and job security right now. Perhaps the isolation is making you feel lonely and creating feelings of anxiety and even panic. The first thing to do is to recognise that feeling and accept it. Understand why it is there and don’t try to fight it as this will only create more anxiety. Notice where you feel the anxiety and imagine it changing. This video might help.
Then you need to accept the fact that you cannot predict or plan for an unknown future. You can do as much as you can to keep yourself safe but there is a lot that we can’t control and there is something very liberating about giving into that lack of control and just going with the flow. Focus on what you can control and let go of everything else for now.
What Can you Do?
Go out only when needed
If you go for a walk, keep at least a two-metre (6 foot) distance from other people
Wash your hands regularly
Connect with friends and family online or via a phone call
Stay in the moment as much as possible by practising mindfulness
Practise daily gratitude and focus on what you have, rather than what you don't
Watch the news for only a limited amount of time a day and then go and do something else
If you go on social media, focus on the positive messages and fun videos and memes. Avoid people who are scare-mongering or spreading negativity and doom
When your mind wanders off and you start to make scary predictions about the future and feel that anxiety rising, just bring yourself back to the present moment and focus on the here and now. Keep reassuring yourself that you are safe and well. All we ever really have is the moment we are experiencing and that hasn’t changed. Keep an eye on where your thoughts are going and see if you are falling prey to any of these thought errors.
What are your top tips for self-isolation? What have you been doing to stay healthy and keep a positive mindset? Have you discovered any new skills? Please get in touch and let me know or come and post them on my FB page to inspire others.
Please stay safe and well. If you'd like to talk about how my Hypno-coaching package could help you, please book a free strategy call.