Keeping calm and carrying on– A self-isolation reflection
By Tanya White
“Have no fear, 2020 will be a much more promising year than 2019!” they said. “The only way is up!” they also said. Fast forward and here I am confined within the four walls of my home during a global pandemic. It is hard to remain positive when everyday all you see and hear is negative news. But it can’t all be bad news, can it? This self-isolation period has really given me the time I never knew I needed to stop, breathe and reset.
As a true “city girl” who grew up in London, I am someone who likes to keep up with the pace of the city and keep incredibly busy. Over two weeks ago when I moved to working from home, I was forced to put on the brakes and to slow down whilst everything around us came to a halt. Though at the time it felt like we were being forcibly slowed down against our will, I see this as a time to reconnect with myself as a living being separate from modern life, and the distractions around me – and a time to be content with myself when I am alone.
With all the sad events that are happening around the world, I have realised that each new dayis a blessing for me as my family and I are healthy and well. I have made a promise to myself to continue to see through this period of isolation in a positive light as well as use the time to focus on my health and wellbeing (for both my body and mind). So I wanted to share with you some of my key practices which keep me ticking over during such an unnerving time.
During the week I continue to follow my daily routine by setting my alarm 30 minutes before I would usually get out of bed. I begin the first 15 minutes of my day by writing a list of 5 things that I am grateful for. It’s during this time that I hold a deep appreciation for where I am today, the people that surround me and the things that I have collected along the way. I start to feel a shift from stressed to calm, from self-focused to attentive to others, and from pessimistic to optimistic. The next 15 minutes are spent reading a self-development book where I can learn something new that I can implement into my day. This way I start the day strong by accelerating my personal growth whilst feeling inspired and motivated. I then jump out of bed, into my most colourful lycra and spend the next 30
minutes exercising to keep my heart rate up, and to clear my mind. Whether it is a full-on cardio workout or my ‘one’ walk of the day to the local park I can guarantee by the end I will be fully awake and feeling energised.
Fuel your body
Food is one of my biggest joys in life and this period of isolation has given me the time and energy I need to cook healthy and balanced meals and try out some new recipes. As someone who has previously trained in Nutrition and Lifestyle Coaching, I am well aware of the things I should be doing, and this knowledge can easily go out the window when I’m in the middle of a busy week at work. The Tesco meal deals are a faint distant memory and my inner Nigella Lawson has taken over in the kitchen. I am challenging myself to see how many wholesome grains and pulses, and colourful nutritious fruits and vegetables I can squeeze on one plate. Jokes aside it’s never been more important to keep our bodies well by fuelling them with the right types of food.
Do what makes you happy
I have made a list of all the things I’ve always wanted to do but never seem to have time for. Things on the list can range from sewing the hole back together on one of my favourite dresses to mastering the art of baking sourdough bread. There is nothing more satisfying than putting a line through your day’s achievements no matter how big or small. Equally I have found sitting in my pyjamas all day eating nachos and bingeing on a Netflix series that I wouldn’t usually have time to watch is equally as satisfying. Not every day for me will be productive, and I have taught myself to be ok with this. It is important to remember that whilst we all have to stay inside, this time is ours to use both fruitfully and freely. After all, every cloud must have a silver lining.
Finally, stay connected
In a world where technology has taken over our checkout assistances and where food can be ordered at a restaurant via a computer screen, there has never been a better time to reconnect with our loved ones. Connecting with others, whether it is through talking on the phone, or video chat is good for improving psychological wellbeing and imperative during the Covid-19 pandemic. Video calling technology has made it so easy for me to connect with my family from various parts of the globe. I can pick up the phone and hear my brother’s voice who lives in Australia (as if he was in the next room) just by the press of a button. During this time of self-isolation, it is easier to become stuck in my own thoughts and feelings; connecting with others has offered me support and comfort as well as boosting my mood during this time. So now is a time for me to rebuild relationships and make time for the people I care about.
One of my favourite charities The British Red Cross are a perfect example of how charities continue to stay connected to service users and volunteers with the help of a dedicated team and beneficial resources during this period of self – isolation. The British Red Cross Young Refugee Service runs five youth projects and one ESOL group in London for vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers (age 15-25 years old) who have arrived in the UK without their parents or family members. Whilst the whole of the UK has gone into lockdown, the organisation continues to keep in touch with their young people through WhatsApp and regular phone calls, whilst sharing activities and competitions to keep them engaged and active. The resources are sometimes created by the young people themselves who write peer reviews of useful apps, and articles advising others on how to stay healthy and positive. The Red Cross is also working with organisations such as ‘Doctors of the World’ who are translating NHS resources into 23 different languages so that those who don’t speak English as a first language can have up to date knowledge on the Corona Virus situation. Red Cross volunteers share their daily activities with the young people via staff members, using photos and video to keep them connected. The Red Cross also provides all volunteers with a year’s subscription to the popular Headspace app and access to training if they wish to upskill at home. For many of us this will be a difficult time but if we collectively make the effort to stay connected then we can make a big difference to people who are feeling alone at this time.
Stay close and happy.