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Isolation series part 1: staying mentally well

We’ve all seen social media posts preaching that self isolation is an opportunity to get fit or learn a new skill. While this is entirely possible, it’s also true that isolation is hard and can negatively impact our mental health. This can leave us lacking motivation both personally and professionally. It’s OK to not be OK, especially during this challenging time. Here are some top tips to help you focus on staying healthy while in isolation.

Keeping a routine

Maintaining a routine can nurture better concentration and improved organisation. It also promotes feelings of control and accomplishment, helping to lower stress levels and anxiety. When working from home, establish a routine that sets boundaries between these two areas. For example, designate a room as your office and try to replicate your ordinary routine by showering, getting dressed and ‘commuting’ to the office. Whichever method you prefer, structure is important for your mental health. There might be the odd day that you need to work from bed to get through it. That’s OK too. Just accept that we’re all human – we aren’t perfect.

Stay motivated

It’s one thing to have your routine mastered, but what happens when you’re lacking motivation? This is a big challenge with no single solution. A good starting point is ensuring that your workspace is free of distractions. Another is writing a to-do list and, each day, assigning yourself an achievable number of priority tasks. Add in some rewards for completion if needed, such as a snack or a walk around the garden. Achieving those goals and their rewards can really help keep you motivated. Boosting motivation is all about trial and error, so keep adjusting your day to find what works for you.

Keep active physically and socially

Not everyone will use this time to get fit, but it’s still important for our mental wellbeing to incorporate some physical activity into each day. You don’t have to run or lift weights, but you can take an hour out to go for a walk. There is also a plethora of free exercise content on YouTube – from light stretching all the way to aerobics. A little bit of activity each day can really help to lower tensions and relieve stress. If there are days where physical activity seems too much – have a rest and work on your social fitness. Start a video chat with family and friends or attend a virtual games night. The rise of new apps and technologies means social distancing shouldn’t have to cause loneliness.

Embrace self care

If nothing else, being in isolation means being able to binge-watch films and TV shows, as well as play computer games. It’s crucial to maintain a healthy balance between being active and relaxing, keeping in mind that hobbies don’t always have to be about learning a new skill or result in tangible output. Do whatever you need to do in order to feel more relaxed and less stressed.

The main thing to remember is that this crisis is very stressful and worrying. But by focusing on staying physically and mentally healthy – we’ll all get through this together.