Tips For Staying Sane in Self-Isolation

Photo by Fabian Mardi on Unsplash

I never thought I would be grateful for my fairly-dull day job, but as a writer, I know I’m extremely fortunate to have one in these uncertain times.

Unlike so many people, I already work from home, so I haven’t had to make a significant adjustment. For those that do, I wrote an article a while back that may be useful.

(TL;DR: don’t stay in your pyjamas or work in your bed, and stick to a routine!)

But now that our city has entered a significant shutdown, here are some things that I find helpful for this period of self-isolation. Not that these aren’t endorsements, just ideas.

Exercise

I’d finally started making myself go to a daily fitness class and was ALMOST enjoying it, so now I’m doing Heather Robertson’s 30-minute workout in the mornings. I get bored with the same routine but she has a different one every day for 12 weeks. Here’s hoping we’re not cooped up that long…

Where I live, walks/runs in the park are also allowed and may the only way that you can leave the house, plus keeping your fitness levels up boosts your immune system and mental health, both of which are going to be more vital than ever.

Entertainment

You probably know about Netflix, but have you heard of Mubi? It’s a platform for curated arthouse, classic and cult films — the selection is limited to 30 (every day one is added and one is removed), so it cuts out the endless scrolling.

In excellent news, a bunch of museums and theatres have also moved to the virtual world. And if you’re never known the beauty of audiobooks, you’re going to start loving being read to.

Fostering

We got a new doggo to keep us company through potential months of shutdown. Fostering or adopting saves a life, improves mental health and gives you a permitted reason to leave the house as well as hours of completely acceptable procrastination.

Just make sure you go to a local rescue group and not a large shelter (read about my awful first foster experience here.) But be quick — I’ve heard anecdotally that many places are actually running out of animals for foster!

Learning
I’m so glad that my guitar teacher is still able to give me lessons online — plenty of music teachers will be offering virtual classes so look around for options. My choir (along with others) has also moved to Zoom and is accepting new members — that way, you can sing in your lounge room while feeling connected to a harmony of voices.

I also use an app called italki for languages: it connects you with a teacher on the other side of the world for video lessons at VERY affordable rates.

Mental health
I feel that there is a lot of pressure to do something “productive” with this time — and I’m trying to remind myself that it is okay to prioritise mental health during a pandemic (and always) rather than beating myself up because Shakespeare used his time in plague quarantine to write King Lear.

What works for me is daily journalling, which I do first thing in the morning instead of watching the news. While it’s important to be aware of what’s happening in the world, it’s probably not helpful to be watching or scrolling the news all day. And in Australia, online or phone counselling sessions are about to be covered by Medicare — hopefully by as soon as this week.

Socialising
Despite not physically seeing friends and family, I find myself in contact with them more than ever before. Yep, my phone is ringing like it’s a landline in the 1990s.

To stay connected and stave off loneliness, I’m trying to chat with at least one person every day. I’ve also discovered the joys (and technical woes) of playing virtual board games via Steam.

If you have more ideas, drop them in the comments below!

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