06 April 2020
Many of us are likely to spend quite long periods cooped up at home. This is an anxious time for many and every day presents new challenges – physical, mental, social and financial. Many people will be isolated and afraid, so it is important to remember that most people will get a mild form of the illness and that this will end eventually. Long periods of isolation can be tricky and indeed boring. It is important to stay upbeat and find new ways in which to enjoy ourselves and maintain some normal life. I know I feel better if I can carry on being useful and helping others, whether that is checking on the neighbours, ringing round the family each day, supporting colleagues who are self-isolating and so on. Being positive and helpful to others will make all of us feel better, from the youngest to the oldest.
Although I am ‘social distancing’ I have still gone out for shopping, exercise and to check on my elderly neighbour. Instead of being scared that I will catch something from everyone I meet, I have found it helpful to imagine that I already have the infection (mildly) and so I try to behave in a way that will not pass it on. The precautions I take are therefore to protect the health of other people rather than to protect me. I now feel I am making a positive contribution to the health of my community and somehow this has reduced my anxiety.
If you are stuck at home, here’s some of my ideas for helping get through this:
- Get out every day in the fresh air, just once making sure you stick to social distancing
- If it’s warm enough open the windows and doors to get a ‘blow-through’
- Get some regular exercise, even if it’s jumping up and down in the driveway
- Don’t spend all day watching the news or checking social media and get your advice from reliable sources (e.g. NHS, government)
- Access sources of help as soon as you need them such as Citizens Advice
- If there are lots of you, agree some house rules for being together and having your own time and space, work out who has the iPad when and who controls the remote
- Do all the chores you never quite have time for (I’ve cleaned out the fish tank)
- Get out those old board games – Trivial Pursuit anyone?
- Get dressed – don’t wear your pyjamas every day (it’s nice for a few days I know)
- Ask a neighbour if they will share a favourite recipe
- Remember books? – there is more to life than Netflix. Form a virtual book club with other self-isolators
- Do something creative, knitting, woodwork, any Blue Peter type activity with whatever is lying around
- What tasks / chores are normally done by someone particular in the house? Could you swap or ask someone else to do it for a change?
- Consider what skills you have that you could teach someone else
- Set some self or family challenges – different types of trees / cars / birds seen on a walk for instance
- Deliberately watch / listen to something you wouldn’t normally choose instead of your usual favourites
- Keep a diary or do a blog. Could you do a household podcast?
- Take turns to cook and teach the kids to cook, learn some new dishes between you, possibly involving Spam
- Decide a topic you are going to find out about before tomorrow then, if possible share your findings with others
- Make cards for people with upcoming birthdays, or even – dare I say it - write your Christmas cards
- Focus on something you can plan for after it is all over – theatre or cinema trip, holiday or sporting event
- Stay in touch with family and friends as much as you can, however you can
You cannot avoid contamination completely when you go out, but you can significantly reduce your exposure with simple measures by following the government advice. Just to re-emphasise and add some tips of my own:
- Wash / gel your hands frequently
- Keep 2m away from other people where possible
- Don’t mix with people in small spaces
- Don’t let anyone cough or sneeze anywhere near you and if you cough or sneeze, use a tissue or the crook of your elbow
- Keep a little plastic bag / nappy sack with you to put used tissues in until you can dispose of them safely in a bin
- I find wearing ordinary gloves when out has reduced the number of times I touch my face. I put the gloves on in public places and take them off in the car / at home. Particularly useful with things that are handled by multiple people such as ATMs, keypads, petrol pumps etc. I have a few suitable pairs and wipe / wash today’s pair in the evening
- Clean things that get touched or sneezed on like phones, keyboards, door handles, car steering wheel / dashboard regularly. I keep wipes and a plastic bag for disposal in the car.
- Wash your hands properly as soon as you get home
Strange times always produce new opportunities and ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ as my grandmother used to say, so get creative.
Stay safe and be kind to each other.