Welcome to the third post in my “Studies in Self-Isolation” series. In today’s post, I’ll be writing about coping with the change to this quarantined way of life and all the stresses that come with it.
Handling ongoing uncertainty during a global pandemic is becoming increasingly difficult, as every day brings a new wave of news and information, and coronavirus updates dominate the news cycles on most popular news outlets. It’s important to recognize that each day we’ll need to alter our behaviours at least slightly as new information emerges and we absorb new knowledge (how to sanitize your home, for example).
As to dealing with the worrying flurry of news and updates, behavioural psychologist Jo Hemmings suggests creating a “worry window” for yourself – for instance, you could allow yourself an hour each day to get caught up the day’s information, which can be split up into half-hour periods in the morning and evening. The problem, as I’m sure you have recognized, is the never ending evolution of the pandemic and its worsening state around the world. Acknowledge that it’s okay to take a break from the news and give yourself time to take your mind off of all the negativity. Bring the focus back to yourself and your family and what you can do for them to alleviate stress and keep them safe. If you’re somebody that feels more at ease being in the know of every piece of breaking news, go for it, but also feel as though you can distance yourself from it sometimes, if you need to.
Distractions are necessary and I, for one, have convinced myself not to feel guilty about watching a favourite TV show or spending the day in my backyard, reading instead of keeping up with the news. I have a splendid creek behind my house to which I retreat in order to listen to some music or the birds, or read. A daily bike ride around my suburb is another staple of my routine, as is watching Gilmore Girls with mum and Facetiming my friends.
I’ve also found that focusing on routine helps to retain what sanity and regularity I have left. Going to bed at a more or less regular time is something I tell myself I’ll start doing eventually, but alas, it hasn’t happened yet. Something that’s helped me keep routine and normality in my life right now is resisting the urge to walk around in pyjamas or sweats all day – wearing comfortable yet normal clothes has aided me in staying productive and not taking naps instead of taking advantage of a work period.
Productivity at a time like this is a tough matter, and I find that I’m unusually hard on myself when I don’t follow through with whatever project it is that I’ve decided to start, such as journaling or painting regularly. It seems, at least for me, that all this extra time should be a great reason to start up something new, and it’s easy to revert to the negative self-talk and guilt-tripping because you didn’t end up accomplishing something you thought you would. It’s helped me to take life day by day and not pressure myself into following through on anything other than schoolwork if I can’t find the motivation.
That brings the third post in my “Studies in Self-Isolation” blog series to an end. I hope you’ve been keeping up with the series and look forward to sharing more of my perspective with you in the next post!
Until next time,