Staying at home is something we often associate with rest and relaxation. But if we are directed to isolate at home for any reason, we might find ourselves feeling lonely, worried or bored.
Although there can be challenges, looking after your wellbeing in ‘iso’ doesn’t have to be a major struggle.
Here’s a quick summary of some useful strategies:
- Be compassionate with yourself – spending time alone can be hard and it’s OK to say that. What would you say to a friend who was struggling in this situation? Say the same things to yourself.
- Set up a routine with some structure – simple and easy routines around sleep, food and movement really help.
- Practice some grounding or mindfulness exercises – Smiling Mind has some great recordings to get you started.
- Break tasks down – for example, focus on the bit that comes next. Small steps are easier to take.
- Mix up activities to combat boredom. There are lots of things to do at home when we put our minds to it.
- Notice any progress you make and tell someone about it, no matter how small.
- Keep a journal to create a sense of order to your day – it might feel weird to start off with but it has great health benefits. Check out the student blog for some inspiration.
- Think creatively about how to connect with friends or family – it might be eating a meal together online or playing a game. There are lots of ways to connect.
- Plan things to do outside with friends once the isolation period is over – it’s helpful to have things to look forward to.
- Order some food online that you’ve always wanted to try and opt for a COVID safe delivery.
- Re-frame being “confined” to doing your bit for everyone’s health – quarantine can be hard but you are doing a great job to help the community.
Common worries and tips to handle them
I’m not motivated to do anything
Don’t wait to feel the motivation – it doesn’t arrive first but comes from doing things we enjoy. Getting started is the trick. So do 1 small thing now. Take a shower, pick up a book or turn on a podcast. Whatever you do, pause reading this page and do that 1 thing now.
I feel really frustrated by this situation
Yes, it can be boring, difficult or infuriating to be asked to quarantine but our willingness to follow health advice is helping everyone come back together. Our actions can have a significant impact on the health of others in the community. Think about the valuable part you are playing in a global effort to get the world moving again.
I’ve got decision paralysis
Don’t know what to do first? When we feel stressed or “meh”, we can spend lots of time looking for a “perfect” tip to help us feel better. Here’s a hot tip - there is no magic exercise or ideal app so start by picking one thing to focus on and try to keep your planning simple. Try picking a small change or a strategy you want to try and make a plan to put it into practice. Think of it like a “sprint”!
Schedule a few short sprints, or 5-10 minutes activities around a wellbeing theme and space them throughout the day.
- Listen to a 5 minute meditation before lunch or dinner
- Plan a 7 minute work-out.
- If you have a back garden or quarantine safe space outdoors, go out there and jump around for 5 minutes when your energy is low or you need a boost.
- To improve sleep, pick a sleep meditation and set an alarm to remind you to listen to it before bed tonight.
- If you want to keep up to date with the news, limit yourself to the latest updates, once or twice a day from a few reputable sources.
Your mind might try to get you off track so anticipate this, thank your mind and do what you had planned anyway. Afterwards, check-in with your mind and what it has to say.
I feel everything at once! It’s exhausting
Uncomfortable or unpleasant emotions don’t feel great. We may try to avoid them, push them away or distract from them. Counter-intuitively, this can make them bigger and cause more anxiety in the long run. Here are some alternative ways to manage uncomfortable emotions:
- When you feel something difficult, think of how you might respond to a friend feeling the same thing and let that mental dialogue be the way you speak to yourself
- Acknowledge you are having a difficult feeling and let yourself feel it knowing that like a wave, it will pass
- Our feelings often tell us about the things we care about. What do your feelings say about what you value in the world?
Check out these resources from Beyond Blue around mixed emotions for some more info.
Being alone doesn’t need to feel lonely. Whilst we can’t see other people whilst in quarantine, we have heaps of ways to connect online. Take the initiative and give someone a call. Sometimes friends or family don’t reach out because they think we’re fine. It’s OK to ask for help, to reach out for support or simply to ring someone because you feel lonely. If instead you know a friend who is in quarantine, get in touch with them and help them feel connected. From virtual exercise classes to games, movies and chatter, there are lots of things we can do online to pass the time with each other.
I’ve run out of food or medication
When we can’t leave home for a period of time, we might need help to get essential items. We’re not talking about lollies or magazines but there are a few things that we shouldn’t do without. If you take regular medication, have a pet that needs walked or have a very short supply of food, ask for help early. Start with your social or family connections but also reach out to the University who might be able to help or signpost to a relevant support service.
If you want to reach out for support, here are some services that can help
- Beyond Blue - phone and web chat services alongside some great online forums around this topic
- Lifeline Australia – 13 11 14
- Mensline Australia – 1300 78 99 78
- Reach out
- Mindspot – telephone line 1800 61 44 34