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5 Strategies for Coping With Isolation

As we are facing continued social distancing in the coming weeks, I want to talk about strategies for dealing with isolation and give you some strategies to make this period less stressful and crippling. Loneliness is a serious mental health risk, and social isolation can quickly turn into anxiety and depression. Additionally, isolation and loneliness can impair immune function and boost inflammation. Two effects that we certainly don't need right now.

Although we are feeling helpless over this health crisis right now, we do have more control than we think when it comes to our body's response to stress and illness. Below I share with you five strategies for coping with isolation.

1. Keep a schedule

As time moves on and there is no set endpoint to the social distancing guidelines, it can feel tempting to throw routine out the window. However, keeping a similar schedule as pre-Coronavirus will play an essential role in maintaining hope, reducing stress, and bouncing back once the isolation orders are lifted. It is best to continue a regular sleep schedule. Assuring you get sufficient sleep, by heading to bed early and rising early, will leave you feeling physically healthier and mentally fit.

2. Get dressed

It could be tempting to stay in pajamas all day, to forgo styling your hair or putting makeup on when you know you won't be leaving the house, but it has a tremendously negative effect in the long haul. Remember how good you feel about yourself and your life when you look your best? The same holds true, even if you only move from the kitchen to the living room for the time being. Make sure you shower as often as you always have, put your best clothes on and makeup if that is what you ordinarily do. If you usually dress up to impress others, then dress up to impress yourself. Aren't you also worthy of your best?

3. Acceptance

It is said that all of our suffering in life comes from fighting against our current reality, never about the reality itself. Yes, staying home, feeling isolated is hard, but when we fight against it in our mind, it gets infinitely harder. It does no good to complain about it and to think about all the things you are missing out on. This time will pass. This will not go on forever. Try to find peace in the midst of it; focus on all that is good about this collective slowing down. Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Relax into the moment.

4. Get distracted

When the thoughts and the fears take over, and you are struggling to control anxiety and fear, distract yourself. Watch a comedy, dance to music, call an upbeat friend, and talk about anything other than the virus. You could try your hand at learning a new hobby or skill. You could take one of several free online classes offered by major universities right now. There are even virtual museum and zoo tours available online right now, or you could learn another language. Because of the virus, currently, there are many opportunities online to get educated, get creative, and virtually visit places you have always dreamed of.

5. Go outside

Yes, the great outdoors is still open! Being among nature, breathing in the fresh air and feeling the sunlight on our face, reminds us that there is a reality beyond the virus. Nature is a wonderful way to feel grounded and to stay in the present moment. Many of the state and federal parks have waived their entrance fees right now. As the weather is getting warmer and spring is here, go out and remember that all will be well.

I also want to offer a final reminder to stay connected. Reach out to friends and loved ones. You can use FaceTime, Skype, or Zoom to connected individually or as a group. Through these platforms, you can have a virtual coffee or wine date with friends and family. You can even sit together and craft together virtually. This is the time to get creative and remember that it is really about physically distancing, but staying socially connected.

If your anxiety and depression are increasing during these difficult weeks, please reach out. I have reduced my fees by 50% to make it affordable for many. You can also join me on Facebook and get daily inspiration. Also, feel free to email me and let me know how you're doing. I will do my best to respond to each email personally.

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