Coping with Isolation

Loneliness: Where the connections we need are greater than the connections we have.

Dear Caroline,

I found your column last week to be helpful as I have been experiencing panic in the last few weeks. But now, as we are faced with the need to self-isolate in our homes, I find myself worried about how I will manage to keep positive. I have had depression in the past and the normal life habits I follow such as running or visiting family and friends keep it under control. Now I obviously cannot do those things.

Do you have any further tips as to how best to deal with this strange situation that we now find ourselves in?

Thank you,

David


Dear David,

As we enter an altered state of day to day living, we must channel our energy into remaining calm and accepting of the situation. That said, with such uncertainty all around us, it is not surprising that what is happening currently in our society has the potential to trigger anxiety, depression and stress in many of us. Especially those of us with a history of mental health issues. You mention that you have felt panicked and indeed you may already find yourself facing additional negative emotions such as frustration, fear, stress, anger or sadness.

I understand that you feel worried about your depression flaring up at this time. By adopting new and easy habits into your daily routine during this period of isolation, you can try to harness some control over any possible negative impact that isolation may have upon your mental health.

  1. The power of breathing: When you wake up in the morning, take five minutes to breathe. Deeply and fully. Breathe in for seven seconds, through your nose letting your belly fill with air. Then breathe out for eleven seconds. Repeat. This simple exercise will assist you in combatting any stressful feelings, as well as leave you feeling energized for the day ahead. The power of breathing is not to be underestimated, particularly when it comes to boosting your mood.
  2. The feeling of gratitude: Gratitude is so very important during times of uncertainty, for it grounds us in enabling us to focus on the positives in our life. Each day, take time to reflect on at least one thing that you are grateful for. It can be anything, be it that you have a safe space to sleep, be it the relationship that you share with a loved one or a friend, even a meal that you are thankful for. The point is that you remind yourself of life’s positives, if only for a moment.
  3. The importance of a healthy diet: Where possible, embrace a diet that is healthy. This will not only improve your mood and physical wellness, but it will greatly help to strengthen your immune system, which is so important at this time.
  4. Get moving: Physical exercise will enhance your endorphins and all the good hormones that your body craves. Whatever movement means for you, go for it, be it running on the spot, running the length of your living room, back and forth for a period of twenty minutes, be it jumping jacks or simply walking up and down the stairs. You get the picture! Any movement is good for you.
  5. Stimulate your mind: Another essential habit to adopt is daily stimulation of the brain. Be it tackling a puzzle, learning a new language on the multiple language apps available to us these days, be it reading or watching a film or a documentary. If you feel the urge to write or draw or paint. Do it. Anything to keep your mind activated in a positive and productive way.
  6. Sleep: We all know how beneficial sleep is for our overall health and the role it plays in stabilizing our mood. If you find it difficult to sleep at night, try audio books to help you drift to sleep. Do try your best to stick to a routine whereby you are getting a healthy amount of sleep each night.

These are just a few ways in which you can take care of yourself during this difficult and challenging time. If you find yourself experiencing suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harm, do not hesitate to contact the emergency services. Confide in a friend or a family member if you are struggling. Do not endure your depression alone David. A note for all of us, is that despite our physical isolation, loved ones are just a phone call away. Now is an ideal time to communicate to our loved ones be it in messages or indeed online.

Wishing you peace and courage,

Caroline


My Bi-Weekly Advice Column

This blog features in the News on Sunday, a popular newspaper owned by the DefiMedia Group in Mauritius, which covers local and international news, culture and entertainment.

If you are looking for professional and qualified advice in and around Sitges (Spain), then please email me directly at caroline@heretohelp.co More information about myself and the services I offer can be found here at the Here to Help website.