If you, or someone you have spent time with, shows symptoms of COVID-19 or has a positive test, you may need to self-isolate for up to 14 days. You may find that you feel more stressed or anxious at first, particularly if you haven’t experienced anything like this before.
While self-isolation may be a challenging time, there is a lot you can do to stay healthy and positive while you’re staying at home, so that you’ll feel ready to get back out there safely afterwards.
Be kind to yourself
If you are self-isolating, you are likely to be away from family and friends and will likely have had a significant change to your normal routine.
Remind yourself that it is normal for your mood to have been affected by the current situation. It’s normal to feel a sense of grief for the loss of ‘normal life’. When we are grieving any loss it is normal to experience a range of emotions including sadness, bargaining, denial and anger.
So notice how you are feeling but try not to judge your feelings as good or bad. Try to avoid shaming yourself for experiencing these normal feelings. It might also be helpful to share your feelings with other people.
Remind yourself that anxiety is a completely normal response to this abnormal situation. As humans we are biologically programmed to experience anxiety when we feel we’re under threat but it can be helpful to acknowledge our anxiety when it shows up and normalise this.
If you are self-isolating with other people you may want to discuss each having your own space to retreat where you can go if you feel overwhelmed, want to practice some self-care or need some time to be alone.
And remind yourself that this is temporary. Remember that although the current situation is difficult, this will pass.
If you have previously had difficulties with your mental health, then this may be a more challenging time than normal, and your usual support networks may be less available. Make sure that you keep taking care of your mental health as much as possible, and if you need to seek extra support then don’t put it off – services are able to offer remote support and find ways of helping through these unusual times.
Keep to your usual routine
Having a structure to the day can really help to make things feel more normal. Try and get up at your usual time and keep as much of your usual routine as possible, including meal times and self-care activities. Don’t forget to build in rests and breaks. Eat regular meals, and eat well.
While staying indoors you probably won’t move around as much as you normally would, so it’s a good idea to build some exercise into your day. A huge variety of guided exercise videos are available online for free, from gentle stretching all the way up to intense workouts. Even setting an alarm to get up, stretch and walk around a couple of times each hour will help.
If you have safe access to a private garden, getting some fresh air and walking around can boost your mood. If that’s not possible, try opening a window and watching sunrise, sunset, or the trees and birds outside.
Keep in touch
Make use of phone calls and the internet to keep in touch with friends and family. Having some contact with someone else every day, even if just for a few minutes, can help keep loneliness at bay.
Give yourself permission to limit or end conversations with people who are causing you to feel anxious. It can be useful to have phrases in mind to end conversations that are making you feel worse. This might be a statement such as ‘I’m finding that talking about this isn’t helpful for me at the moment, can we talk about something else?’
Avoid drugs including alcohol
Limiting use of substances which can affect your mood will help you to stay safe and keep feeling well throughout your self-isolation. If you need to talk to someone about this, the Wellbeing Service have a dedicated Senior Drugs & Alcohol Practitioner who you can speak to.
Limit your exposure to the news
It’s important to stay informed, but try not to let the news cycle become all-consuming while you’re in self-isolation. Make a plan for how much news you plan to read or watch, and at what times of day which will fit with your routine.
Recognise your strengths and achievements
Make sure you give yourself credit for managing this challenging time. Think about ways to safely celebrate the end of self-isolation and recognise your own resilience.
And if you need support…
If you find you’re struggling in terms of your wellbeing, a range of support options are available through UWE. The Wellbeing service can provide appointments by phone or video call – register with us to get started.