7 Tips For Living In Isolation
09 April 2020
Our Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and our Government have presented a clear, consistent rationale for Level 4 lockdown - we must stay at home.
But confining yourself to your household "bubble" might not be easy as it seems. Roughly 1 in 3 adults are already experiencing loneliness; it's a current social health crisis that could be made worse through isolation.
We at Geneva Healthcare want you to know that you are not alone. He waka eke noa – we're all in this together.
We are here to help you with your wellbeing while you are in isolation. Here are 7 ideas that can help you while in lockdown.
Tip 1: Stay connected using technology
Keep in contact with those who are important to you – whether it's talking on the phone, messaging on social media, texting or video chat. Now it's even more important to talk, listen, share advice or stories, and stay connected to the people who matter to you while in isolation. Organise a shared lunch with friends on Zoom or FaceTime, diarise a phone call with your loved ones, or hold a film festival! Netflix has now released its Netflix Party app, which lets its customers connect with friends and whānau to host movie nights long-distance, which is perfect for isolation. Stop and playback favourite scenes, skip through scary parts, pause to clarify key plot points.
Exercise classes, music groups and book clubs can all be held online too – get exploring!
Being by yourself doesn't have to feel lonely. If you know someone else who is spending time alone during lockdown, why not give them a call? You could just brighten their day.
Even with lower access to ingredients, we can still eat and drink healthily. See below for tips on how you can eat and drink to feel your best.
Go for colour! Nutrients that help improve your immune system can be found easily in a healthy and well-rounded diet. Challenge yourself to get as many colours onto your plate as possible. That means colourful fruits and vegetables, seeds and nuts, and whole grains. Meals with plenty of colours are appealing to look at, as well as taste too – it's important when you're on lockdown to get that psychological boost of your food looking great.
Don't forget your freezer. Frozen foods can be equally as healthy as fresh, especially when flash frozen. After you've cooked your meal, make an extra serving to stash them in the freezer for a quick meal when you need one.
Get more gut-friendly. It's vital to support your immune system. Gut-friendly foods are vegetables, fruit, high-fibre whole grains, nuts, seeds, and cultured foods like fermented vegetables or yoghurt. If you're looking for a project to do while in lockdown, try making kimchi or sauerkraut.
Eat what makes you happy. Listen to your body, feed yourself what makes you feel happy. When we're honest with ourselves, it doesn't generally mean a "junk" food diet. Whatever it is you do eat though, be kind to yourself and truly enjoy it. Lockdown is a challenging, unprecedented experience, and not the time for feeling guilt or food shame.
Nutrients that help to support your immune system can be sourced easily from a well-balanced, healthy diet.
- Vitamin C is in fruit and vegetables, including oranges, limes, and lemons
- Zinc can is in meat, seafood, pulses and beans
- Vitamin B12 is in animal products like meats, fish, eggs, milk and milk products
- Vitamin B6 is in chickpeas, beef liver, salmon, tuna, cereals, rice and onions
- Folic acid (B9) is naturally present in a wide variety of foods, including dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, beans, fruits, eggs, seafood and meats
- Vitamin D is produced by a reaction to the sun on our skin. Try to get some sunlight for at least 30 minutes per day
Try to avoid alcohol
In difficult times, it's not surprising that some people will look to alcohol to release their stress. But please try your best to not drink heavily, especially during isolation. Not only will it affect your mood, but it will also affect your ability to fight any disease. Also, if you have an accident, it will put unnecessary pressure on emergency services, which are needed to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. So try to avoid alcohol, as we need to ensure that everyone is safe during this time.
Keep moving! There are many different ways you can keep fit during isolation. Remember that you can go outside, as long as you keep a distance of 2 metres from others and stay close to home. It's also OK to go for a run, walk, or ride your bike. Regular exercise also helps to reduce your chance of having a stroke by 25%.
Yoga enables you to gently exercise, which can boost your mood. There are many YouTube videos available to suit your ability and level of mobility, and even some for children.
If group classes are more your groove, join the partnership with Les Mills and TVNZ. There are daily fitness sessions for Kiwis while in lockdown. The free-to-air workouts range from stretching to meditating, to high-intensity training, and are running from the 30th March at 9 am and 3 pm. To find out more visit here.
While it can be tempting to work from your couch or even your bed, try not to, as it is highly likely that it will put a strain on your back.
By getting some exercise each day, you will help your body and mind release any tension that you have during isolation.
Tip 4: Think about what you have to give
You've got lots to offer – why not get creative and think about ways your time, skills and knowledge could help others? For example, text a friendly message to a loved one, share a handy hint or recipe on social media, or give someone a call who might be feeling lonely. Giving can help us feel that we're still part of our whānau and our community, even if we have to stay at home.
Join our #SpreadPositivityNotVirus movement by sharing a photo of yourself waving and smiling from your home. Include your pets, teddy bears, or those in your bubble! Your friendly faces will sure help brighten up someone's day.
Click Here to submit your photo
Tip 5: Stick to a routine
Adhering to a routine can be a great way to help get you through each day while you are in isolation. If you usually eat breakfast at 7 am, keep going with it! If you make your dinner at a particular time, do that too. If you'd often meet with a friend for coffee, keep it in your schedule, but instead arrange a video call. Each part of your routine might be small, but a "normal" routine can help us stay on track and keep us emotionally balanced during isolation.
Tip 6: Find ways to relax
Make sure you have fun! Finding ways to switch off and recharge completely will help you to feel much better. It is especially crucial if you're feeling anxious or stressed. Remember that your feelings are completely normal – it's understandable to feel sad, worried, anxious or frustrated during this crisis. So see below for ideas to boost your mood.
- There are a lot of great (and free!) mindfulness apps you can use to guide you. From breathing techniques to meditation, the world is your oyster.
- Clean out your wardrobe and to organise it into sections, so it's easier to find things in the future. When you've finished, start with decluttering your kitchen, the bathroom, or the garden - the list truly goes on!
- Read that book that's been on the shelf for the last few months (or even longer)!
- Lockdown or self-isolation is the perfect excuse to watch TV shows and movies. Get comfy and settle in for some new series (or old favourites), via OnDemand or other services like Netflix or Lightbox.
- Are you looking for a new challenge? Use Google to start a crossword or Sudoku puzzle - you might just discover a hidden talent.
- Get your creative juices flowing by creating a new blog. Make sure to talk about what you love, whether it's music, cooking, fashion, or even how your day is going! The choice is yours.
- Get your favourite songs lined up and have a dance in the privacy of your own home. YouTube karaoke is also a favourite for any undiscovered pop stars.
- Challenge yourself to learn the basics of a new language. With a host of new apps and websites like Babbel and Duolingo, there's never been a better time to start.
- If you're lucky enough to have others in your bubble, dig out the board games and jigsaws for a fun challenge.
- Set yourself an art or craft challenge, using materials you've got at home. It could be anything from sketching, and mindful colouring to upcycling clothing or old magazines.
- Give yourself a manicure at home! Take some time for yourself by grooming your nails, treating your skin to some hand cream, and finding a shade of polish from your current personal collection at home that puts a smile on your dial.
Tip 7: Go on an information diet
Take note of how news coverage affects your mood, and switch off if you need to - it is OK to be stressed, but know that you are not alone. COVID-19 is a global issue, and being online can quickly put us at risk of an information overload. Visit https://covid19.govt.nz for reliable information about the current COVID-19 situation in New Zealand, and choose one trusted news source and check it once daily.
Sometimes it can be too much to handle, feel free to talk to your whānau and friends to improve your wellness and mental health. If you're struggling, please call or text 1737 to have a chat with a trained counsellor from the Ministry of Health for free. They are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
If you need support, especially during isolation, please contact Gains@Geneva, so you can keep well and stay in touch with your whānau and community. Click here to find out more about their work.
This article gives some ideas about things you can do to support your wellbeing while we're in lockdown, to help you feel better and stay on track so we can be the best after we finish isolation.
Stay connected, be kind (especially to yourself) and keep moving. We're going to get through this.