Humans are social creatures and we don’t do well in isolation. That’s exactly why state penitentiaries punish prisoners by putting them into solitary confinement. It causes them great mental anguish. Many of us have felt like prisoners in solitary confinement over the last couple of months because of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown. And many of us have been feeling our own mental anguish from this extended isolation.
Who knows how long this may go on? While none of us have control over what our governments do, we do have control over ourselves and our perceptions of the world. With this in mind, here are some tips for coping with social isolation, for however long it goes on.
Isolate Yourself from the Media
If you’re paying attention, it almost seems as if the media is trying to confuse us and cause panic more than report on actual news. Watching too much news doesn’t help anyone’s anxiety levels, so stay informed as best you can but don’t binge-watch.
Being isolated can get very boring very quickly so it’s important that you try and get creative with your time. This could mean painting the living room and rearranging the furniture or getting your husband and kids to learn a new language with you. It could mean experimenting with an old recipe or making up a game with your kids. Just have fun and think outside the box!
Now is a great time to reconnect with friends and loved ones you haven’t spoken to in a while. And technology like Skype and Facetime makes it incredibly easy to chat with someone no matter where in the world they are.
A lot of the anxiety we may feel comes from the fact we aren’t moving our bodies as much as we usually do. It’s important to stay physically active during this time. So get outside and get some sun. Go for a walk or ride your bike. Not only is exercise good for us physically, but physical activity releases endorphins that make us feel good mentally and emotionally as well.
The world is a chaotic place right now and it seems we are being hit with noise and negativity from all sides. It’s important to make time each day for some quiet meditation. If you’ve never meditated before, that’s okay. Just try it.
One of the easiest ways to meditate is through a listening meditation. Find a space in your house where you can be alone and get into a comfortable position. Close your eyes and breathe deeply in and out… and simply listen to the ambient sounds.
What do you hear? The buzzing of a light? A fly? Your dog’s collar rattling down the hall as he scratches. Expand your hearing to see what else can you hear outside your house. Birds? Lawnmowers? Traffic?
Simply breathe and listen intently for 5-10 minutes. When you listen, you can’t think at the same time, and so you will notice finally your thoughts go quiet. This is paradise!