Guardian Carers Feature on Sky News

Coronavirus & self-isolation: How to cope with loneliness

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The recent coronavirus pandemic has sent shockwaves through the world. Countries have imposed safety and security measures for their citizens. Whole countries have gone on lockdown, imposing self-isolation and social distancing measures. The UK is one of these countries.

People ranging from working professionals to vulnerable elderly people are now self-isolating at home for an undetermined period of time. Self-isolation and social distancing lead to the feeling of loneliness, which can leave a mark on a person’s mental health.

Focus on the present

The best thing to do in self-isolation at home is to keep present. Focus on the present moment and what you are dealing with currently. Do not let your mind wander off into the future. Our mind has the tendency to make up its own scenarios, especially in crisis situations.

Living in the present moment allows you to have control over your decisions. While in self-isolation at home, you can choose what your plan or routine is for the day. For example, you can decide what you want to eat for breakfast, what type of music you want to listen to or whether you want to exercise that day or not. Having the option to make your own choices and to have control over your decisions offers you a sense of stability in this time of uncertainty.

While in self-isolation, one trick you can use to keep grounded and maintain this sense of stability during this time is breathing. Breathing exercises help to bring you back to the current moment, as well as offer a sense of calm. Whenever you feel like your mind is drifting off, during this time of self-isolation, try breathing in and out for at least one minute. This is a good exercise to remember for the future, not just when you are self-isolating. You can do this whenever you are feeling overwhelmed.

Stick to a routine

If you are one of the people who are stuck at home in self-isolation, laying out a routine and sticking to it is the best way to get through this self-isolation period and keeping loneliness at bay. Imagine you are still going to the office and layout your day as you normally would. You are simply in the comfortable environment of your home. Embrace it.

While being alone when self-isolating may make you feel like things will not end soon, trying to keep the same work-life balance, that you were keeping before, will help you feel balanced and keep these fears away.

At the beginning of the day, write down in a notebook the daily tasks you want to complete. Make this an accomplishable plan. Write down the tasks that you know you will be able to complete that day.

While self-isolating, it’s also useful to keep a daily journal where you can jot down your thoughts and feelings. This will allow you to feel in control of your life during self-isolation and proactiveness over the situation.

Keep informed

This does not mean that you should read all the coronavirus articles that the media is feeding us, during self-isolation. But you should aim to keep informed while in self-isolation. Offer yourself 10 to 15 minutes daily of news updates.

Besides keeping up to date with the goings-on in the world, being informed about the best ways to stay safe, as well as health advice has been proven to improve your psychological function and resilience.

While in self-isolation, in order to combat the feeling of loneliness, it’s essential that you avoid negative news. There are so many good news outlets who offer readers reassurance and reasons to smile every day. Once again, avoid getting sucked into the media vortex of news - this will make you feel overwhelmed.

Keep active

Even if you are not a person who practises sports usually, you should certainly consider taking up one form of physical exercise while in self-isolation. Physical exercise is often overlooked, but physical health goes hand in hand with mental health.

Practising one form of exercise daily, or even twice or three times per week will improve your mental health and will also keep the feelings of loneliness at bay, during this period of self-isolation at home. Find a sport or physical exercise which works for you. This can be yoga, pilates, jogging, anything which will raise the endorphin levels in your body.

There are many ways to exercise and thus keep your mind happy during self-isolation. If you are unsure about what works for you, have a browse on YouTube or try a work-out app. If none of these work for you either, simply go on a fast-paced walk.

Keep connected

We’ve kept this essential point for last. Keeping in contact with your loved ones while self-isolating at home is absolutely essential. You should normally keep connected, as it improves your mental health, but especially now that you are stuck at home, self-isolating, it’s even more important.

Of course, it’s obvious that you cannot go outside, for your safety and the safety of the ones around you. But there are so many ways in which you can keep in touch. Call your parents, brothers or sisters! You can video call with your best friends.

There are so many ways to keep connected nowadays. We live in a digital world, all connected online, so the possibilities are almost endless. You can use Skype, Zoom, WhatsApp or Facebook Video, only to name a few.

If you are feeling more traditionalist, you can even send a letter or a card. Who wouldn’t love such a surprise to come through the mail while in self-isolation?

While self-isolation, social distancing and lockdown measures persist it’s down to all of us to enforce these measures as much as we can. While it may take a toll on us, it’s down to all os us to beat this virus.

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