The UK is now in lockdown for three weeks to manage the spread of Coronavirus, but while our physical safety from the virus remains paramount, our mental health during isolation is now a concern for many people working from home.
In the traditional sense, working from home can be a dream. You’ve got your solitary home office where you’ve got everything just the way you like it. You can take a walk on your lunch break, or if you’re feeling fancy pop to the local deli to grab a sandwich. You can have elevenses snacks without anyone telling you how many calories are in it. And it’s just you.
But, working from home in the current self-isolation situation is far from dreamy. You’re attempting to work and homeschool your children without considering putting them up for adoption. Snacks are limited because you dare not drive to shops in case chocolate or biscuits isn’t seen as an ‘essential item’. And you’ve quickly realised your partner has some annoying work habits of their own, including leaving dirty tea mugs about the house and using the phrase ‘let’s circle back’ more times than you would like to hear.
It’s enough to drive anyone crazy, as we’re all locked away with our nearest and dearest for an inevitable future of self-isolation.
So how can you maintain your sanity, and not end up just sitting in your car to get some peace?
To help you survive self-isolation we’ve rounded up the top things that help us make it through the week.
Break up Your Day
A big thing we miss when our world gets turned upside down is routine and structure. Most of us thrive when we are in control of our day, so when it all changes this can be scary and cause us all sorts of anxiety.
To retain your sense of control and order, establish a routine that helps you to break-up your day, and help you to feel less trapped.
This could be starting the morning a little earlier before the kids wake-up to work on essential tasks that need your focus and attention.
If you’re stressed about getting your work done with the kids being about, perhaps spend some core time with them in the day, and then work again in the evening once they are tucked up in bed.
Building a structure will not only help you, but it will also help your family feel at ease with the new home life situation as everyone knows what to expect and when.
Embrace Quality Time
With the children being off school, it can feel overwhelming trying to juggle work at the same time. But if you have the flexibility with your work, try to spend some quality time with the kids during the day, so when you need to focus, they will be less likely to distract you as they’ve had some of your time.
It’s also good to try and embrace this time with them. Self-isolation is an unusual experience for us all to be in, but using it to your advantage and creating precious memories with your kids can help you to feel less stressed and enjoy the time together.
Your children will be picking up on how you react right now, sensing your emotions and the way you behave, so teach them resilience and a positive mindset by showing them that even bad situations can be turned into a positive experience.
Tag Team the School Duties
If both you and your partner are trying to work from home while the children are about, think about tag-teaming to help with the school duties, so one of you can work while the other one entertains and teaches the kids.
By supporting each other with work and looking after the children, you will get more done on your focused work hours, and be able to enjoy teaching the children without feeling pressure or stress that you should be working.
Ease the burden of childcare and share the duties – you’ll feel much happier.
Move Your Body
Exercise releases happy chemicals called endorphins, and we could all do with some of that when the world feels like a dark place.
Build regular exercise into your daily routine, and even get the kids involved if you can. Whether it’s a bit of morning yoga to stretch out the body, an afternoon walk, or a dance party in the evening, think about how as a family, you can all workout together.
There are also many free online classes suitable for children and adults available online. So look at what you enjoy doing, and add it into your day.
When you move your body, your mind feels better too.
Plan Your Evenings
The day-time of self-isolation can feel like a constant battle with work and your children, but nothing feels never-ending than an evening which keeps you locked inside. After all, there are only so many Netflix binges you can do in one week.
To help you feel less like self-isolation is a never-ending nightmare, plan your nights ahead with things that you can all look forward to. This may include a film night, a family quiz night, or even a bake-off.
It can also be good to think about the activities you would like to plan once self-isolation is over. So ask the children where they want to visit, or the holidays they want to go on. By looking ahead, you can provide yourself with something to look forward to, and a sense of hope.
A bored mind is more likely to worry; whereas a busy mind is too busy to worry on what may or may not happen.
By all means, ensure that you rest and relax during self-isolation, but don’t sit around and let negative thoughts fester.
Make a list of all the things that need doing in the house. Yes, even the crap draw you’ve never touched could be a great place to declutter.
Good deeds make us feel good, and there is always someone else far worse off in these situations than us.
Doing a good deed and helping others not only makes you feel good, but it also makes you grateful for your life and the people or things you have in it.
During a crisis such as this, there are many people who need help—especially those who are vulnerable or disadvantaged.
Get in touch with local charities to see how you can help locally, or just simply start helping your neighbours.
Avoid the News
Keeping updated is essential during the Coronavirus pandemic, but what’s not okay is becoming overly absorbed in the news and continuously watching it.
Limit your consumption of the news, and any other negative spaces such as social media.
Our brains are there to absorb information, feelings and emotions, and if negativity is all you’re going to feed it, then you can expect to start feeling pretty rubbish.
Instead, try to continue to have positive conversations with those who lift you up and read positive news or fun articles.
We may be apart physically, but that doesn’t mean we are disconnected from those we love.
Make time during your day to speak to friends, family and even colleagues to help you feel connected with those around you.
In particular, if you live alone, this is especially essential at a time like this, as it is easy to feel lonely.
Continue to schedule wine o’clock on FaceTime, birthday celebrations, and even a cook along. There is so much fun you can have with going digital, so make it an experience and keep communicating with those around you.
Our Favourite Things to do in Self-Isolation
- Online fitness classes
- Learning something new