Please note that if you suffer from mental illness, be absolutely sure to contact your doctor, counselor, or a help line ( call 0800 111 757 or text 4202 in New Zealand) if you are in distress! This list has been collated based on my personal experiences, musings, and experiments coping with mental illness and loneliness.
COVID-19 has done a darn good job of making 2020 a very complicated year. During the New Zealand Level 4 lockdown, I was surprised at the amount of people having a hard time self-isolating. As an introvert I personally reveled in the opportunity to hide away for a few weeks! But everyone is different, and to some people isolation is torture. Thankfully, many countries are able to ease up on pandemic restrictions, but there are still many places that don’t take COVID-19 seriously and allow the virus to run rampant. So whether it’s cabin fever, loneliness, or just plain boredom that has you itching to go out into the big wide world prematurely, here is a small list of things that might help you get through.
LEARN TO ENJOY ALONE TIME
Humans are social, tribal creatures. Hanging out with our friends and loved ones is important for our health and happiness! However, it’s also important to know how to be alone. Learning to enjoy your own company, and enjoying the freedom to do things by yourself and at your own pace, can build a lot of strength and independence. Most of us are probably sharing an isolation bubble with others, be they flat mates or family, but there are many who have to endure this time by themselves and that can be scary. Loneliness is difficult to deal with, and loneliness over an extended period of time can be detrimental to our quality of life and mental health. So how do you go from ‘lonely’ to ‘independent’? BE KIND TO YOURSELF. Positive affirmations and self-care can strengthen your confidence and help stave off anxiety, making it easier to feel independent rather than alone. Take time to do some of the following in your routine each week:
- Breathe deeply. If you struggle meditating, just take the time to focus on taking a few deep breaths. Inhale through your nose for five counts, hold for five counts, and exhale through your mouth for five counts. I find it does wonders for anxiety and anger.
- Recite positive affirmations. There are so many resources for this online, but even just making a little list of all the things that make you great and reading them aloud each day is enough! Remind yourself that you are enough, and that you are beautiful. I’d recently discovered this binary hypnosis video by Danielle Pioli online and found it really effective with staying positive and building confidence.
- Do some physical self-care. Wash your hair, shave your face, scrub your body, soak your tired feet, soak in the bath, paint your nails. Anything that involves taking care of your body.
- Do something you can’t do around others. If you love singing and dancing but you’re self-conscious or shy doing it in front of others, take the time to do it in your alone time! Remember when you were a kid and you sang in front of the mirror and pretended you were in a music video? Don’t deny it, Mama Madi knows. And I love it. And so do you. Keep doing it. Things that make you feel good when you’re alone will bolster your ability to be isolated.
SPEND TIME OUTDOORS
If possible, try to spend time outside (within your bubble, of course). Whether it’s gardening, mowing the lawn, or just relaxing in the back yard, being outdoors has a significant impact on our mental well-being, and sunlight is important for our physical and mental health. I love laying on the grass and watching the clouds roll by, or soaking in sunlight when I have the time! Listen to the birds, pot some plants and relax. If you are able, go for a (responsibly socially distanced) walk around the block, but remember to wash your hands and wear a mask if your neighborhood tends to be busy. Even if you think you are indestructible, staying safe means you are also keeping those who are at risk safe!
PURSUE NEW HOBBIES
If you’re stuck at home and have some time on your hands, why not use that time to finally try some things you’ve always put off doing? Reading, knitting, painting, coding, drawing, gardening, writing, learning a new language – the world is your oyster and the internet is a vast wonderland of knowledge. If you’re anything like me and you already have a million hobbies, take the time to improve your skills or get lost in a project! You finally have the time! It’s understandable that some may not have the means to pursue their ideal hobbies, in which case try to find something you can do from your smartphone or computer (wherever you’re reading this from), like writing, learning a language through apps/websites like Duolingo or Memrise, or studying a topic you enjoy like history or photography!
KEEP A HEALTHY ROUTINE
It’s easy to let go when you’re confined to your home. Staying up late, binge eating and eating unhealthy food, and overspending on online purchases all take a toll on your body, your wallet, and your mind. I find that I get really groggy and extra tired if/when I let it all out with loads of snacks and late-night (to early morning) TV or gaming. Try to keep a steady routine with healthy meals and less impulsive purchases (that also includes unnecessary snacks), and get plenty of sleep and your body and mental health will thank you for it! Most importantly, don’t forget to drink water. It’s much easier to think of alternative drinks at home when you may have a variety of options like sodas or alcohol or coffee, and completely forget that your body needs water to function! I keep a glass by my bed for a drink in the evening, and keeping a bottle on the coffee table or your desk would help remind you to have a drink during the day!
That’s that, folks! Some are simple and easy, and some require a bit more work for some, but these have been things that made self-isolation bearable – or rather fun – for me during the New Zealand lockdown. I hope some of these points will help someone out there, perhaps even just struggling with mental illness regardless of quarantine. If you have any tips or advice of your own, feel free to share them in the comments!
Be safe, be kind, and stay healthy! Remember to wear your mask if you can, you would be protecting not only yourself but also those who are vulnerable to the virus.
Thanks for reading!
Lots of love,