Currently we have have the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the world. Here in New Zealand we are currently in lockdown – what this means is that we Kiwis are required to stay at home.
Not go out – except to get groceries or go to the pharmacy.
What this actually means is that we are now at home with our families – but only our families. I am an extrovert… I love interacting with people. My lockdown is a bit different than most:
I recently travelled to Canada and returned to NZ on Friday 20th March and went into “self isolation” – as the NZ Government decreed any international travellers had to self isolate for 14 days. I had a friend who had an empty apartment so was planning to stay there for the 14 days – so as not to accidentally infect my kids – who then might infect their grandparents (who are over 70..).
So I stayed by myself 30 kilometres (20 miles) from my family. However NZ went into lockdown 6 days into my self isolation so I made the decision to go home and self quarantine myself in 2 rooms (one of which had a ensuite bathroom). Luckily my main client has allowed me to work remotely which has helped my sanity greatly and means I’m not unemployed….
I am now 12 days into my 14 days and I thought I would share how I, as an extrovert, have coped and managed my isolation – from people.
These were my things that I came up with – yours will be different so these are only suggestions. Like the pyjamas suggestion – for me I need to have a state change to get into work mode
- Stick to a routine
Go to sleep and wake up at a reasonable time, write a schedule that is varied and includes time for work as well as self-care.
- Still dress well
Get showered and dressed in comfortable clothes, do the normal things you did. Don’t wear pyjamas all day (but you know what – if that works for you – do it.)
- Go outside for some fresh air
Get out at least once a day, for at least thirty minutes. If you are concerned of contact, try first thing in the morning, or later in the evening. Remember you only need to keep 2 metres or 6 feet away from people.
Even just opening a window and letting in fresh air helps.
- Talk to people
This was a huge one for me and I had some wonderful friends who WhatsApp video chatted, Teams “meetings” and even employees at my client site who regularly contacted me to talk. It was a massive difference to my wellbeing.
For you – you might not like video chats – but please keep in contact with people via text messages at least – it will let them know you’re ok. Or if you’re not OK then you have a way of interacting with your support network.
- Be silly
I have a friend who sends me a picture of a beer every day – a different beer and his description of that beer. It has made me laugh and kept me slightly sane – because I’ve had to think of witty replies back. Gold.
- Eat well
Stay hydrated and eat good food. This one may seem obvious, but stress and eating often don’t mix well, and we find ourselves over-indulging, forgetting to eat, and avoiding food. Drink plenty of water, eat some good and nutritious foods, and challenge yourself to learn how to cook something new!
- Spend time being a kid
If you have them – spend time with your kids – being a kid.
Spend extra time playing with your kids, or if you don’t have any – go play some games, do things that you normally wouldn’t that might bring some playtime to your life. Play is cathartic – for kids and adults too.
- Respect each other
Have a space – it’s yours to retreat to.
It is important that people create their own separate space for work and for relaxation. For children, help them identify a place where they can go to retreat when stressed. My house currently has 3 “forts” built that the kids use to “get away from it all”.
- Kids will be kids
And adults will be grumpy.
Kids thrive on routine and that routine has likely been upended – same deal for adults. So expect behavioural issues with kids and adults too – expect increased anxiety, worries and fears, nightmares, difficulty separating or sleeping, testing limits, and meltdowns. Focus on emotional connections with your close ones. They need you as much as you need them.
- Self-acceptance is key
We can too easily be hard on ourselves..
..be a bit easier on yourself, accept that you might fail at some things. These are huge unprecedented times and accept everything about yourself, your current situation, and your life without question, blame, or pushback. You cannot fail at this.
- Exercise – if its your thing..
I setup a small gym (weight bench and 4 dumbbells of various weights) in one of the rooms I am quarantined to. I have to say that doing weights has helped my state of mind GREATLY. For you it might just be a 30 minute walk out in the fresh air to get away from things. Exercise is good – you don’t have to run a marathon – just that physical state change.
- That thing you keep putting off..
You probably have a project that you’ve been meaning to do but haven’t (I know I do – there are a heap of things on my rural property I could be doing that don’t require me to leave it!!). Find something that will keep you busy, distracted, and engaged to take breaks from what is going on in the outside world.
- Reach out for help
We’re here for you, we care.
Keep up your medications and if you do them – therapy sessions the best you can. If you are having difficulty coping, seek out help for the first time.
- Chunk it out
Take each day as moment by moment. Break your day or tasks up into manageable chunks. It’s like the analogy of eating an elephant – you do it bite by bite (BTW please don’t eat elephants – they’re awesome creatures!!)
- This is temporary…
It might seem like this will never end – and uncertainty is worrying. Although this is scary and we’re in difficult times it will pass in time.
- Most of all – be you
…and remember to converse with others – however works best for you
We’re in this together.
- Let’s chat
Do you know me? Reach out and say hi.
Don’t know me? Reach out and say hi – I like to talk, listen and make people laugh.
And please – remember:
and most importantly: