When I wrote about my 30before30 plans a few weeks ago, I didn’t for one min think that quarantine would be on that list.
Yet here we are.
Rewind back to early Feb and I’m laughing at memes on the internet about Coronavirus… It’s now 17th March and I’m still laughing at memes on the internet, just through gritted teeth and anxiety at the prospect of being locked in my flat for weeks/months to come. And just wanting this whole thing to end very soon.
There’s not a person on the planet that hasn’t been aware of what’s going on, (ok, maybe Jared Leto), and I am sure that almost everyone is feeling it in some way.
I know that all of my group chats have just been full of the uncertainty, whether it is jobs, bills, health, future. etc. It is on most people’s minds.
I work in an industry that helps people communicate internally in their organisations. With everyone now working from home, and comms needing to go out quickly, we’ve been busy trying to help out… and one topic that keeps coming up is how to support the mental health of employees when in quarantine/self-isolation.
It’s a big thing and something that’s crossed my mind.
I love hanging out on my own, spending time in my flat and having some quiet time – but when it is on my terms. I’m also a creature of habit (like most of us are) and enjoy annoying people with my presence. Forced lock-down is most definitely not for me.
As much as we joke that we can watch loads of Netflix and avoid socialising with people we don’t want to, what can we actually do to make sure we don’t lose our minds?
I’m not an expert – nor do I even know where I stand on the whole Coronavirus panic. One min I’m having crisis talks with my colleagues and texting my mum to get me some loo roll, the next I’m in the pub. But here’s my plan to try and remain sane…
1. Memes over Media
Ok, if you don’t know this already – I love memes and dark humour on the internet, as do most of my generation. It’s a great coping mechanism to make light of crappy things that go on in the world.
I actually found out about the whole WW3 thing earlier this year via memes on Instagram. I had to go and check the actual news to find out what on Earth had gone on overnight.
But one thing I really cant be bothered checking anymore, is the actual news.
The headlines are becoming unbearable and actually just promoting mass hysteria.
I was going about my day today and feeling fine, then checked the news to see that THIS COULD LAST FOR TWO YEARS (mentioned by one man in Germany).
Although I know that we need the reliable sources of information, and we need to keep track on what is going on – How much of it is just intolerable shite to sell more papers and get us all in a frenzy?
50 SQUILLION WILL DIE INCLUDING YOU! (turn to page 6 for details)
EVERYONE IS DYING (free Alton Towers voucher inside)
Let’s cancel these style of headlines until further notice please.
I know that turning to memes probably isn’t the answer either, as you can’t even click on social media without reading something about COVID19, but I promise you – laughter is better than panic. Don’t feel guilty for making light of a bad situation. Humour has got me through the darkest of times in the past.
To round up.
- Listen to trusting sources for info – decent news articles, your employer, your family, the smart ones of your friendship group
- Send your mates something to make them laugh, especially the ones that are top worriers
- Put your phone down and do something else to occupy the mind
2. Stay active, stay healthy
This wouldn’t be a 30for30 blog until I told you to get up and go for a run would it.
This weekend just gone, I was supposed to be doing the Wilmslow half marathon. All I wanted in life was for this to be cancelled like everything else.
Luckily, at 2am the morning of the race, I finally got a text saying it was going to be postponed. Turns out the people of Cheshire were raging that Coronavirus could’ve been coming to a town near them, so were threatening to block the roads in protest, (I promise I wasn’t the ringleader of this operation, but I was really pleased all the same).
How I slept after receiving the cancellation text
Before the cancellation, when I was trying to think of reasonable excuses to drop out, I read an interesting article about running and your immune system.
No surprise here – but running is really good for the immune system. In fact, any form of exercise for 30mins or so.
The article, however, highlighted that really long distance running when not used to it is good for the body but ultimately weakens the immune system for 72hours after. I took this as grounds that I shouldn’t be doing the run anyway.
I am obviously a huge advocate of running / exercise for good mental health, and when in self-isolation I think it is really important for people to stay active:
- Go for a walk in the morn before you start work – take this as your commuting time and take 20mins or so at the start of the day.
- Workout in your lunch break using workout videos or a short 20-30min run. I actually saw on Instagram that this page are streaming free online workouts for 2 weeks at set times to help people with this. I imagine many places will start to do more of the same.
- Get out at the end of the day for a run or walk. Without being a coronavirus expert – I am pretty sure you can’t get the virus from just taking some time out outside, unless you are going round touching everything, which would be a bit odd.
To take one positive at the moment, at least there are no more storms (fingers crossed) the next couple of weeks. The weather seems to be fairly decent so make the most of getting out in the light.
Keeping the body and mind healthy is also more than just a bit of exercise. My biggest challenge working from home usually is just the constant snacking and eating.
I mean, I know this will be harder now because people are borderline ransacking the shops, so chicken dippers and chips might end up being the only thing left on the menu – but where possible, eat well. It really helps.
I’m thinking of this as my post-quarantine glow-up. We’re either going to come out looking and feeling really great….or….not.
3. Don’t panic
I am writing this as if we are all officially in forced self-isolation mode. There are a lot of people choosing to WFH following the government guidelines, and forced to by their employer, but there are also a lot that aren’t.
I actually went to work today and got a few comments around it. “Do your bit and stay at home”
Should I be in forced isolation now? I dunno…
I am not being cocky and thinking “It’s only flu and I’m 29 and healthy”, yeh I could get it and it could end up bad for me. Who knows – and the uncertainty means I really don’t know what to do.
This also could go on for months and I live on my own so don’t particularly want to start now. It is not mandatory yet or forced so I am still going about my life but taking precautions.
I also don’t want to brag, but I’ve been washing my hands and using hand sanitiser before it was cool, and I am being really careful about where I go and who I see. I don’t want to put people at risk and I am being very careful around that.
I feel really bad for the local businesses that will inevitably struggle through this. I mean, who is going to go to the sports bar next to my office now all sports are cancelled?! Someone’s got to do it, and that person until told otherwise, will be me.
Choices have to be made on a day to day basis so just make your own decisions based on your own individual circumstance and don’t panic. Panic, worry and stress also affects your immune system.
I keep changing my mind about this though…. ask me again tomorrow when I’m locked up making video calls to all my colleagues, stocked up with 97 rolls of toilet roll…
4. Be kind
If we are put in a situation to forced-quarantine and stay in, be mindful of everyone and keep in touch.
Check in on people that you think are vulnerable or have anxiety around the situation. Remember that everyone is different and someone may be more worried about something that doesn’t affect you as much.
This is a weird situation for everyone – people may even be reading this right now thinking it is OTT because they aren’t worried about self-isolating, but some people are. Human contact is a basic instinct and solitary confinement is something usually used as a punishment. So we need to offer good advice and support where we can. We are all in this together……just isolated away from each other..
Stay safe, stay sanitised, and just keep thinking of the first weekend when this is all announced to be over. I, for one, can’t wait x