The Gift of Self-Isolation

To say that COVID-19 has changed everyone’s lives in 2020, would be an understatement.

While in the future, we may look back and say it wasn’t that long or loathsome being at home (for weeks on end) – the fact that most of the time, especially for the young and old folk among us, (especially the under 30's) the whole ‘self-isolation’ thing has been a difficult process and brought around a whole new set of challenges.

Adjusting to this new life hasn’t always been easy, actually the word difficult comes to mind, but I will propose – like possibly others may have done before me – that this pandemic may be a gift, a present (to be trite) to be enjoyed by oneself. And it should be enjoyed the way that we love eating chocolate (or drinking wine) in secret, alone, in the dark.

Why is self-isolation a gift?

Now, I am not talking about people who have lost their jobs, businesses or family members during this period (and indeed, many people have seen tragedies) but for those needing to do the adapting of getting use to the self-isolation thing, I suggest that you consider it a precious gift of time to yourself.

Time that you have wished for your whole life but never given yourselves. Time for that other half of life where we slow down. And not speed up.

Time to read that newspaper, novel, start a veggie patch, or the other 100's of things to do that you ignore and might be good for you. Time to do those things that been niggling in the back of your mind and that now demand your attention,but you never get around to.

Time for slow TV and mindfulness, or time to meet your neighbour or have a nap, if you are completely sleep deprived.

Time to let yourself slow down enough to hear your own breathing or smell the roses. Many people have been baking or making their own bread, without the rush of everything else getting in your way. Time to look at the world and see where things are at, do the washing or the compost – as the case maybe.

Time to gift yourself a pat on the back for keeping other people safe, be it your housemate, siblings or children, and yourself while at it. Self-isolation should let you catch-up with yourself. And where you are at and maybe find ways to preserve and support your own immune system – now that the winter season is almost here.

But if – indeed you do find that you are actually struggling for things to do – here is a top five essential things to help you peddle your way through:

1. Catch-up with yourself and health

If you haven’t done it already, have a little health check-up. While people should stay away from the doctors for any non-serious concerns, if you do have one, in Victoria you can call the Nurse-on-call service on: 1300 60 60 24. Little health concerns can often turn into big health concerns, so if you do have a concern see your GP, or ring the number above. Look after yourself as best you can.

2. The internet of everything

If there’s one thing that seems to have flourished during this pandemic it is the internet. Communities of all sorts, particularly the arts sector, community groups, etc. have all grown during this time and there is a range of new entertainment available or free online due to COVID-19. Events such as gigs, performances, are all live streamed, and local talent has also gotten into the act with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, hundreds of online concerts, museum tours, educational material, electronic libraries, etc. all freely available. Just google it and you’ll be amazed at the range of content and videos available.

3. Make friends with yourself

Remember - that one person you will spend every waking moment of your life with? The one person you should know better than anyone in the world? That person. You, more than anyone else, deserves your own love and support, and you should take some pride and interest in being a bit happy every day.

Now l am not writing to those people who love spending time alone, because those that do are use to it and do the work to enjoy their own company. But it’s a great skill to have in general and we all deserve some peace and happiness in being alone with ourselves.

I’m writing to those that over time are uncomfortable about spending time alone and seem to be running from something – as I was for the first few weeks of the pandemic.

Somehow, something was annoying me (or more like giving me the shits) and I couldn’t really put my finger on it. I found it annoying and irritating, and it was virtually deafening when I sat alone with it. I think I just felt forced to be at home and hated having to comply –but then I thought – well I can still go for walks and do things I like (like bake or sew) and I found ways to make peace with it.

For in reality, time with yourself, should be something that you do regularly, and enjoy. So find out what actually makes you tick, and discover some hobby perhaps,to really relish your time alone.

4. Clear the air

Even the best of us in self-isolation will at some stage go a bit stir crazy. This is the time to go for some outdoor exercise, even if it is only a short walk, bicycle ride, skate, rollerblade, or whatever, as long as the activity gets your blood rushing and clears the head, it should work. Even ten star jumps (my personal favourite, can do the trick). Move enough to appreciate the fresh air and movement, regardless of how much you do.

Even on cloudy days, try to get out and have some fresh air and exercise. It will do wonders for your mental health, and give you new perspective that this lockdown period is only for a short while and will change soon enough!

5. Reach out for contact

Finally, much of the work that we have to do with COVID-19, is largely about accepting the new norms and accepting the restrictions that are placed on us, for now. But just remember that while we are required to do to ‘physical distancing’ we are not to ‘social distance’– and need other people more than ever.

Our new lives actually require the for us to reach out and stay in touch with your friends and family. Accepting that self-isolation is all about staying in touch is difficult but worth it when you consider how quickly the spread of the virus has been in certain communities.

But if the staying at home is getting too much for you, and your usual pick-ups of chats with family/friends, food, shower and walk haven’t made you feel better, just remember that there is always Lifeline to call on: 13 11 14. They also have a text line and range of resources.

The truth is while it may feel like forever – and yes – many people are now staring at their 6+ week in lockdown (some people more) we should remember this confinement period will pass and we will just have the regular COVID-19 mess to deal with – and doesn’t some return to normality sound like a wonderful thing?