Isolation and loneliness can often be seen as a fate worse than death by some people. And yet, governments across the world are not only urging self-isolation, many are imposing it through nation-wide lock-downs in the fight against coronavirus.
In these unprecedented times when we are being asked to maintain physical distance from our friends and family it is paramount that we find ways to stay emotionally connected to each other as well as practicing self-care.
There is so much information telling you how to stave off boredom whilst being in self-isolation including watching box sets, playing games and reading books. But if you think that these distractions are the only thing that will get you through this period, then you are in for a shock. Self-isolation is not a just a battle against the virus, it is in fact, an inner battle to keep physically and mentally healthy.
Solitude is an important part of our self-care. Being alone periodically to refresh oneself is important, as long as it is in the context of a healthy social life. But, when that solitude is actually day after day of being alone, then it turns into loneliness. Loneliness, by its very nature, can be crippling in its strength and frightening in its relentlessness. And in this loneliness we often turn to destructive coping mechanisms such as bingeing on social media, mind-numbing television, alcohol, medication and unhealthy foods.
Here is my A to E to make good choices and work towards overall wellbeing during self-isolation.
Everything you believe to be your norm is going to dramatically change beyond recognition for the foreseeable future. And there is nothing you can do about it!
Allow yourself to surrender to the status quo and accept that things are beyond your control. This may make you feel vulnerable and uncomfortable. But accepting the situation without protest and exploring the positive things that come out of it, gives you back your power.
From this place of vulnerability will come great courage.
Nurturing and nourishing your body is highly important at this time.
Keeping physically active and fit relieves stress, helps you sleep better, improves your mood and has a positive impact on depression and anxiety. Dance to your favourite music, join an online fitness class or go for a walk and allow nature’s vibrancy to heal you.
Nourish your body too. Keep to regular mealtimes and eat a balanced diet. Do not binge eat on unhealthy food to ward off boredom. Use the time to experiment with new recipes that are nutritious and fulfilling.
From this place of self-care will come great physical strength.
As humans we are social beings. Connection is key for us, and without it we will wither.
Technology has never been more important in keeping us connected. In place of physical interactions, engage in digital connections. Take time to listen and to talk to friends and family using online communication apps. You have the opportunity now to reconnect and to nurture relationships.
From this place of connection will come true compassion.
Time spent in quiet self-reflection will strengthen your resolve to get through this difficult time. Through daily meditation, prayer or contemplation you will gain spiritual understanding that will give you access to the heart of humanity.
From this place of inner reflection will come true wisdom.
Now is not the time to deny or supress your emotions. Acknowledging your ever-changing emotions including fear, anger and sadness allows you to work through the pain and gives you the belief that you will come out the other side.
Every day, write down how you are feeling in a diary or journal. Be open and honest. This may be difficult but stick with it as it is a powerful cathartic process that encourages emotional healing.
From this pain will come true positivity.
We all lead such busy and hectic lives. Time is always in short supply. And now, suddenly, we are being given the gift of time. We must use this time wisely. This is our chance to build on our inner courage, strength, compassion, wisdom and positivity. And, when we resurface from this time of solitude, we will find that we are more resilient, more connected and more compassionate.
A version of this article was first published in The Star News in Kenya