Whether you are someone in the high risk category, you have some symptoms or you are someone who wants to prevent your exposure to the virus, self isolation may sound like a pretty sweet deal!? However, if you are more like me, you may find it really tough. As humans, we weren’t meant to be caged in and you might find that cabin fever will set in.
Just the very prospect of being shut into my house for 3-4 months fills me with dread. I love my freedom. The idea of not being able to interact with people, the idea of not going into shops and seeing people, not being able to grab a few bits and pieces from my local store has already become overwhelming. I am someone who loves my independence in spite of having MS.
With that in mind, and realising that someone of you might be the same, I have put together some tips on how to protect your mental health during this difficult time. Firstly though, we might want to have an understanding of what isolation is!?
I’ve looked up on the public health England website and they suggest that self isolation is staying at home for 14 days where you should not
- Go into work
- Go out into public places such as shops or the cinema
- You should not meet friends for coffee and cake
- if you exercise, you should go to a wide and well ventilated space such as the countryside and stay at least 2 m away from people
- You can have friends and family deliver things to your home, and if you have symptoms, make sure they leave items outside
- Ask friends and family to carry out errands for you
- Sign up to an online pharmacy delivery service if you can so that you can have any regular meds through the post
When it comes to things that you can do whilst you are self isolating, my recommendations for staying sane include
Watch your favourite tv and find some great new series on Netflix or Amazon Prime. There’s so much to see these days. If you can bear it, throw a few quid at some of the paid for streaming services and there’s so much brilliant content. If you are an amazon prime member, not only will you get free deliveries on your parcels delivered straight to your door, the video and film content is excellent. I reckon that Netflix is my personal favourite for content – I am not going to list all of the great shows here as it’s your personal choice and taste. I love great documentaries and dramas, but of course everyone loves some trash sometimes!!
You might also be able to use a VPN to trick some of these services into thinking you’re in another country. This would mean that if you are watching prime or Netflix, you might be able to get content from the USA that we don’t get here in the UK. I can’t condone doing something illegal – but I know that others have suggested this as an option.
Get FaceTime or a video calling service and call your friends and family. I regularly meet my friends for coffee and cake – since being diagnosed with MS I find it difficult to do some of the other social things that I used to do so meeting friends was my lifeline. Not being able to do this will be a real challenge for me. I am going to be setting up dial ins for those regular catch ups!! I have a couple of friends who are pregnant too, and I don’t want to be missing out on those amazingly precious days!
Limit your news watching to a single or two sessions a day to prevent anxiety and panic. I have set myself a limit of two sessions, one in the morning when I read online and another in the evening when I watch the BBC news.
Start getting fit! Perhaps you can use some of these great apps that are now available, or you can do some yoga in your home, you might be able to take yourself out for a walk in the countryside where there are fewer people. Whatever takes your fancy, this is a good a time as any to focus on yourself.
Do all of those self care things that you never have the time to do! I’ve bought hair masks, face masks and I am going to start looking after my nails!
Listen to some new music – you never know what might take your fancy. I have Apple Music and it enables me to listen to all sorts of different things. You might have Spotify or another service – or just be someone who listens to videos on YouTube. Whether you have a free or paid for music service, use this ppportunth to relax. I remember when I was younger and used to listen to my tunes for hours on end. I am going to do similar now and fill my time with beats!!
Take up a new hobby or get back into one that you’ve not had time to do – Perhaps you were someone who loved writing, playing the guitar or the piano, or someone who loved drawing. Maybe you want to decorate your house or do the garden?
Take the opportunity to have a massive clear out! You may have some time on your hands to go through all of your belongings and work out what you need and what you don’t ready for donation to charity once we can stop self isolating. You might be able to get the charities to come and collect from your home?!
I know that I will be finding my self isolation difficult but I will be using some of my own tips above to try and stop the madness setting in. If you’re someone like me (or the polar opposite and you love being cooped up inside!) I’d love to hear from you!!