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SelfIsolation - Tips to Keep Sane

I know things are crazy right now. Whether like me, you’ve been asked to work from home, or whether you’re simply on hiatus from work, you’re probably still in your house, between four walls, and going a little crazy. I know I am... And it’s hard. As humans, we are social creatures. We need to engage, to talk to others. Being alone, being isolated, is enough to make us bonkers.
But at a time when the entire world is suffering the same, we have to be mindful of our mental health. And of how to take care of it. What to do to keep our mind sane. What to watch out for, and when to seek help. With that in mind, here are a few thoughts I put together on both topics.

How to take care of your mental health

1. Don’t let yourself go
• Set a schedule. Keep to regular working hours that include taking breaks, eating lunch, and getting some fresh air. A set routine will also help to decrease the tendency to work beyond your established work hours.
• Staying connected. Set up a channel on a social network for impromptu, informal workplace conversations. Call or text a “work buddy” to share how your day is going. Hearing friendly voices and maintaining social connection can help combat the loneliness that some employees may experience while working from home.
• Making time for self-care. Get enough sleep, eat healthily and integrate regular exercise into your day. The gym may be closed but the outdoors are not. Try to include a daily 20-30 minute walk in your day.

2. Choose happiness
Change is inevitable. When you’re expecting it, the transition can feel easy. When you’re not, it can be devastating. While we cannot always choose our circumstances, we can choose our attitude in how we move forward through them. When we choose to adopt a positive mindset, or take action to make ourselves or our situations better, the by-product is happiness.
• Consider the words you use, whether in your thoughts or in your communication with others. Your choice in language sets the tone for your outlook.
• Surround yourself with positivity: people, ideas, and things that make you feel good!
• Every situation likely has a positive you can extract from it. Shift your focus to noticing the positives in a situation. Concentrating on things that you feel good about, or noticing the good out there in the world, will undoubtedly create a carryover effect into other areas.
• Pay it forward and do something kind for someone else, just because.
• Practise self-awareness. Notice how you and your needs may fluctuate. What feels good for you today may be similar to or different from last week.

3. Allow escape
Reading alone serves two main benefits: it exercises your brain, and it provides an escape. Many authors (myself included) have joined together to offer their books for free, and to help their readers in this time of need. Take advantage of those offers, dig into new books, and the benefits on your mind will be heartfelt. Better it, make it a family fun activity and each member can pick up a book!

As for the day-to-day benefits of reading, one study found that it can reduce stress levels by 68%, and works better and faster than listening to music or going for a walk. While plenty of research has shown that cuddling up with a book before bed improves sleep. Some doctors in the UK even prescribe books to treat depression!

4. Breathe fresh air
I’m not saying break self-isolation rules. But if you have dogs, they’re probably going just as stir crazy as you are. Take them for a walk - at night, or early morning - when there are less people around. If you do run into anyone, keep your distance. Don’t let the dogs touch. But the fresh air will do you, and the doggo, good.

Above all, make sure you keep in touch with family and friends over phone or video chat. Texts are good but seeing someone’s face (even if on a screen) helps more than anything.

for Observatorul
Ottawa - mai 2020
Julia Padou

Julia Padou     5/11/2020


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