Covid-19 has upended our lives completely. We now find ourselves in a new world of reduced social contacts, struggles to keep work going at home and losing jobs and keeping our distance from other people. While this might have been an interesting experiment for a few days, the prospects of doing this for weeks and even months without an end in sight is particularly challenging.
Below are 16 tips to help you cope:
- Accept your new reality
Rather than just focusing on what you have lost or the disruption to your life, make a choice to go with the flow and adapt to your new reality. Ask yourself, how can I make the most of the new situation I am in?
- Make a plan
Make a plan for each day as well as each week. Set a couple of goals you want to achieve each day and a couple of things you would like to have done by the end of each week.
- Keep a good routine
Just because you are at home self-isolating, don’t give up on a normal routine. Get up at the normal time, and get dressed in the normal way and set regular times for meals, work periods and leisure times.
- Include some exercise in your day
If you can, make sure to get out for a walk or a run. A bit of fresh air and exercise will make all the difference. If stuck indoors, focus on doing indoor bouts of exercise, such as press-ups or squats or yoga stretches. Take a moment to stand at an open window or on a balcony to breathe.
- Make the most of mealtimes
You probably now have to cook more. Make the most of these times. Try to enjoy the challenge of cooking healthy meals. Are there new recipes you want to try
- Plan some time for leisure
Plan something fun and interesting each day. This could be as simple as reading a favourite book, playing music, cooking a new meal, doing a crossword, starting an online class (there are lots of these now), listening to an podcast, or watching a boxset.
- Reach out to people
Make sure to phone/ video call someone important in your life. Use all the benefits of social media to keep in touch with friends.
- Alternate your tasks
Divide the day into manageable units of time (eg, 30 mins) and allocate your daily tasks. For example, you might alternate between meditation/yoga (one unit), breakfast (one unit), work (five units), reading a book (two units), phoning your mother (one unit), going for a walk (one unit) etc.
- Say hello to neighbours
When going out to the shop, be polite and warm with shop assistants and say hello to neighbours from a safe distance. Even simple chats with strangers can boost your mood.
- Think about how you can help someone
In crises it is the people who help others who cope the best. Ring an elderly neighbour or a front-line worker to see if they need anything when you go shopping.
- Watch your mental health
Notice early if it is all getting too much for you. If you find yourself getting depressed or anxious reach out for support from friends, family or access the sources of help online or on the phone. Be gentle on yourself and realise that hard times will pass.
- Accept your feelings
Accept that you are likely to have good days and bad days. Some days you are going to feel fed up, frustrated, anxious or depressed. Listen to and accept your feelings. Remember that you are not alone.
- Limit news and social media streams
While keeping up with the news is important, avoid over-exposure or obsessive tracking of news coverage which can leave you depressed or anxious. Make a routine of only checking at certain times.
- Keep a journal
Keep a journal each evening. Take a break from the screens and use a pen to write and reflect about your experiences each day. The simple act of writing can help you put your experiences into context and can be enormously satisfying.
- Practise gratitude
Each evening take a moment to note something good that happened that day that you are grateful. This could be as simple as a pleasant chat with a colleague, friend or neighbour. Write about the things you are grateful for in your daily journal.
- Focus on silver linings
As well as the challenges, focus on the “silver linings” of self-isolation. What is good about what is happening? What are the opportunities? Perhaps it has provided you with time to slow down or to learn and do new things.Prof John Sharry, originally published in The Irish Times in March 2020. Read more of his articles here.