While so many of us are staying home during these testing times, coping with loneliness and self isolation can be done by finding new ways to regain control.
It’s been a while since I sat down to write anything.
Life got really tough for a while after losing Meg. As I sat down and tried writing each blog post and newsletter I found myself simply staring at a blank page. And no idea how to sound positive or even vaguely interesting. And even now, just a little over 4 months later (has it really been that long?) it’s not that it’s magically any easier. But right now, this isn’t about me. It’s about us, the community.
So, as we’re heading into a new way of life for so many – because this is no longer business as usual – I just wanted to reach out and hopefully help with some ideas and info for staying safe, sane, social and well fed.
Of course I’m no expert. But I’m writing this in the hope that we can talk, connect and just be there for each other. If you have any of your own self isolation coping advice please let me know what’s working for you in the comments.
So let’s start with YOU.
With the saturation of news and constant flux of our daily lives, uncertainty can inevitably lead to anxiety and stress.
- Remind yourself that this is temporary. Especially if we all work together, keep to the self isolation guidelines, keep our distance and remember that our effort helps the whole community
- Stay connected with friends, family and work colleagues. This is even easier these days with Facetime, Skype, texting and a whole host of apps
- Keep a routine. As humans, we’re creatures of habit. It reduces the need to make decisions each day. It helps make us more efficient, saves time, reduces procrastination (my personal Achilles heel!) and builds self confidence
- If you’re working from home, try to maintain a healthy balance by allocating specific working hours and making sure to take regular breaks
- Take a news break – particularly just before going to sleep
Phil and I are very much heeding the government advice on self isolation. We’re staying safe and protecting ourselves and our community. Phil is now working from home and we’re limiting our contact with other people as much as possible. It’s not always easy, I’m very used to spending the day with just Nooch and the TV or radio for company. And Phil isn’t used to spending all day, every day stuck indoors. But we’re making it work and it’s the best thing we can do for EVERYONE. Our Mother’s Day visit to see Phil’s mum that involved his brother and fiancé and a rented cottage for the weekend all got cancelled. But cards and flowers were delivered, phone calls were made and much love was sent virtually, from a safe distance.
Practising Self- Care
Self care isn’t selfish. If you’re not looking after yourself, who’s going to look after the things you take care of when you’re not well – either physically or mentally. Here’s some healthy little ideas and habits that are easy to achieve during self isolation and become a routine even when life returns to ‘normal’. And keeping you, well, YOU!
Be kind to yourself. Exercise compassion for yourself, not just the people round you. It’s going to be even easier to become stressed with others and ourselves with life so uncertain right now. Remember, we’re all just human, including yourself so you don’t always have to be all things to all people. Forgive yourself (and others) for mistakes.
Read. One of my personal favourite things to do, whether it’s diving into a new book full of new lands and new adventures or snuggling down with an old favourite and revisiting friends (and enemies, I’m looking at you here Joffrey). David Walliams is also releasing a free audio book per day for the next 30 days.
Find a new hobby / learn something new. Oh thank you YouTube, there’s never been a better time to learn a new skill or hobby. So many people are offering free lessons. Everything from maths for kids and adults to exercise routines. The Open University has a huge array of free courses and Centre of Excellence has reduced the price of all their courses to just £29 with the code LEARNATHOME14. I’ve enrolled in a canine nutrition course which will keep me busy for a few weeks!
Get creative. Scrapbook, journal, paint, knit, sew. The possibilities are practically endless here! Creating can be one of the most therapeutic pastimes. If you’re into journaling or memory keeping, Ali Edwards is offering a stunning free project class bundle with the code LEARNMORE
Have a spa day at home. Get out the fluffy slippers, slap on the face mask, give yourself a manicure and pamper the heck out of yourself! You can even have a crack at making your own soaps, scrubs and salts!
Engage with nature. Plant your own veggies, get the kids involved nurturing something from the tiny seed they planted! Or just step outside or throw open a window and breathe.
Cook / bake. Perfect your signature dish. Cook something completely new. Get creative if you have limited ingredients! In the midst of uncertainty there’s something very grounding and necessary about fuelling yourself and/or loved ones. AND you get to eat something yummy at the end of it! Here’s a ridiculously easy Emergency No-Knead Bread recipe if you’re struggling to get hold of a loaf.
Organise your space. The Marie Kondo series on Netflix provides some great inspiration for simplifying and getting on top of the clutter once and for all.
Family game time. Jackbox is great fun for the whole family, near and far. And by great fun I mean GREAT fun!
Keeping well fed during self isolation
If you’re struggling to get to the shops or book an online shopping delivery Morrisons have introduced a Food Box Initiative. You pay a single price of £35 for a full box of shopping but you don’t get to choose what’s inside. The supermarket have promised that they will be full of the needed essentials. Unfortunately though, there’s currently only the choice of vegetarian or meat eaters boxes, nothing specifically vegan or gluten free.
If you have a reasonably well stocked cupboard and fridge and are looking for some inspiration for vegan recipes
50 Vegan Recipes using Pantry Staples
20+ Vegan Recipes Made from Pantry Staples
Literally anything from Pick Up Limes (one of my absolute favourite YouTubers)
For Phil and I it’s been difficult during self isolation to not want to drown ourselves in comfort food. But I figure 3 weeks of that and someone will have to come in and roll us out of the house. Not a good look on anyone. So for now we’re trying to exercise restraint. Maintain a balance of food that nourishes body and soul. With the occasional bit of homemade chocolate cake thrown in for good measure 😉
If you’ve got fruits/veggies that are starting to turn bad, the freezer is your friend. Frozen fruits are perfect for a quick pick-me-up smoothie. Frozen veggies can be used to bulk out soups, casseroles or ‘hidden veggie’ sauces. Slice or chop onion or garlic and freeze to have on hand for a quick pasta sauce with some tinned tomatoes.
Working from home
We’re very fortunate that Phil can reasonably successfully work from home. But we’ve found it important to create some ‘rules’ to stay efficient and motivated.
Get showered and dressed. While it’s very tempting to boot up the laptop while still in your pj’s, getting dressed and ready to work can really help put you in the right frame of mind. It also helps when doing a video conference call to maybe not be dressed in your ridiculously comfortable, super snuggly Oodie.
Keep your hours in check. It’s even easier to log in early or stay later when you don’t have the daily commute to factor in to ‘home-time’. We’re also lucky that we have an office at home but it’s important with other family members also in your house to try and find a space where you’ll be least disturbed.
Take breaks throughout the work day. Routine is good but you don’t want it to become monotonous. Get up and move round a bit, even if it’s to go and make another cuppa. Spend 5 minutes in the garden while you drink it. Or play with the dog. Short breaks can be more beneficial than less frequent longer breaks.
Maintain interaction with your co-workers. If you work in a busy office like Phil it can feel quite isolating to suddenly be in a room on your own. Facetime, Skype, Zoom are all great tools for face to face engagement with the people you’re normally interacting with all day.
If you find yourself working odd hours don’t be scared to adjust accordingly. One of the problems Phil has encountered is connectivity to his work’s over-stretched IT systems which means logging on during ‘normal’ working hours isn’t always possible. So if you’ve been up since dawn to get connected, don’t be worried about taking a longer break during the morning to get in your daily exercise, walk the dog, chat with the family.
The social media scheduling gurus at Later also have 19 Tried and Tested Tips for Remote Work.
So, after all that, how are we all doing? What is happening in your life today?
How much has changed for you?
Things are no longer on an even keel, everything seems to change day by day, literally. I’m missing spending time with our extended family, I’m finding sleep a bit of a challenge right now, fearful of what’s to come and how unprepared we are. I feel heartbreak for people who’ve already lost someone and for those on the front lines of health care and life’s essentials.
But now is the time to support, accept change, encourage, wash hands, keep a safe distance and be our very best selves.
Hey Sam!!! Welcome back! I was so happy to see your newsletter pop up in my mailbox!
Thank you for all the great tips in your newsletter, but mostly just glad to see you here again.
You’ve been missed. XOX
Thank you SO much!! It’s such a weird time for everyone right now I felt compelled to say something, and I’d seen an apparently viral video for the best and easiest (because it’s made in a slow cooker) homemade bread recipe that costs virtually nothing to make. Yet has a shopping list of ingredients, uses yeast so you still have to knead it and takes 2 1/2 hours to make!! So I thought I’d show people what an ACTUALLY cheap and easy loaf of bread looks like 😉 Anyway, how are you all doing??
Hello, so very sad to hear you have lost Meg, It always made me smile when she was included in your posts. I know how hard it is, we lost our 18 yr old Labrador and life really was odd without him, in fact we ended up campervanning around Australia for 2 months as we simply didn’t know what to do with ourselves, but it did help to break the rut we were in. Well that was 5 yrs ago now, time as they say is a great healer. When we returned home from Oz, we decided to get a Romanian street dog rescue from a UK charity, and of course she runs our lives now.
All the best to you both xx
Hi Louise, thank you SO much for such a lovely reply. I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been through it too. Even 18 years isn’t long enough. Campervanning round Oz sounds quite the adventure though! We lasted 3 hours after losing Meg before getting in the car to the local rescue centre and the next day picked up Nooch. But we’re looking to get him a friend and had wondered about a street dog rescue charity called Barking Mad Dog Rescue (BMDR) as there are SO many little lives that need a good home. But with the world in chaos right now I don’t know how we’d go about doing it. Did it take long and how was the adoption process? I hope you and yours are all staying safe, all our best wishes to you too xx