Updated: May 5, 2020
The last five weeks have been quite an emotional rollercoaster for many. With the global Coronavirus outbreak pandemic, many of us have been in self-isolation since the middle of March and I, personally, have found it a strange and sometimes difficult time.
With lockdown coming into force a couple of weeks ago, it suddenly started to feel a lot more serious. Yes, I knew it was serious with the amount of people Coronavirus was effecting and whose lives were being lost to the virus. But until we were told we were no longer allowed out of isolation unless it was to work, to pick up essentials or for health reasons, the cabin fever suddenly took over and I realised just how bad it was out there. I am fortunate enough to not have been effected by Coronavirus and, touch wood, my friends and family have been kept safe from the virus. But although I haven't necessarily been poorly, physically, with COVID-19, I know it has definitely had an impact on my mental health.
I am fortunate enough to live in Cornwall and during self-isolation, have been able to go out for my daily allowed self-distanced walk knowing, wherever I walk, there will be beautiful countryside and open, fresh space for me to enjoy. In the past, I have had my ups and downs regarding my mental health and over the years have suffered with mild depression, bouts of anxiety and other various issues that have a multitude of triggers. And during self-isolation, there have been times when I felt those triggers come in and start to niggle away.
Usually, my life is quite fast paced. I work full-time, see my family and friends whenever I can, attend kickboxing classes twice a week, had been running a flat by myself and until the beginning of the year, had been holding down a relationship with someone the other end of Cornwall. On top of this I also have my beloved Cornish Ramblings and any spare time is spent blogging, planning rambles, updating the social media pages and actually rambling with the group. My life seemed a bit of a whirlwind but fast forward to now and here I am, a usually very busy person who spends the majority of her time surrounded by people, now in self-isolation with her wonderful mum and darling dog 'Daisy' for company. Life went from a crazy whirlwind to a complete standstill, and I struggled for the first week or two with what to do with my suddenly very empty schedule.
Luckily for me, over the years I have built up my mental strength and have become someone who can look at life a lot differently. When things go wrong, rather than letting it engulf me, I turn it into a positive. My relationship may have ended and yes, it was hard for a while to handle the changes and not having that person in your life anymore. But I soon realised that instead of focusing on what I was missing, I could focus on what I had lost during the relationship. Rather than mourning for someone who wasn't coming back, I realised I was actually quite alright without them.
I still have my down days and because of a hormone imbalance, sometimes the negative feelings and emotions are out of my control. But over time, I have built up a strength and a way of dealing with trauma or life changes in such a way, that I can now handle most situations without it getting to my mental health. Sometimes it is a battle. I'm not going to sit here and lie by saying it is all fairytales and fluffy clouds. Sometimes it is hard and all I can do is cry or scream or just lie on the sofa and ignore what's going on. But for the most part, I've got this thing called 'life' handled!
I have been in self-isolation now for 5-weeks. I haven't driven my van or seen my family and friends. I haven't picked up my kickboxing gloves or been out for a ramble with the group. I haven't seen my work colleagues, apart from as small squares on a screen when we have our daily Zoom calls, and I wasn't able to give my baby niece a cuddle when she turned one on Easter Sunday. There has been so much I took for granted before lockdown, but the golden realisation is that now, I can appreciate the smallest things, such as a hug with a loved one or being able to get in the van and go for a drive to the coast.
There was so much I used to do, which I thought nothing of until now when suddenly I can't do it, and it does make you sit up and be more aware and grateful. I know, like I'm sure most of us will, when this is all over and the dust settles, I can go back out there and do those things I love but instead of taking it for granted, will appreciate how easy it is for it to suddenly not be there.
Although Coronavirus has disrupted and destroyed lives, and I am not naive to understand the seriousness of it, it has also been an opportunity for me to slow down and focus on myself for a little while. I have seen the news and read the latest on COVID-19 and it has caused me to suffer with paranoia and anxiety so for me, I have decided to stop reading articles, limit the amount of news I watch and instead, use this time to focus on what I can do in lockdown to benefit my mental and physical health. Fortunately I am able to work from home and can keep to some sort of routine through the week. But I thought it would be good to let you know what I do to keep myself busy, motivated and relatively sane (!) during self-isolation, in the hopes it will help you if you are struggling or needing a little motivation to get out of a lockdown rut.
From someone who has suffered with their mental health and who can still have triggers now and then, it is good to take a breath and not be so hard on yourself if you can't get up off the sofa one day, or you're so tired from running around after your kids that all you can do for tea is make a plate of chicken nuggets and chips. This time in self-isolation has not only taught me to be kinder to others, it has also taught me to be kinder to myself.
Jody's Self Isolation Tips
1. Read a book - for the first time in over 2 years, I have finally picked up a book. Self-isolation seemed the perfect opportunity to pick up the book that's been beside my bed for years and finally crack the spine. Even if it's a page a day, it will allow you a few moments to escape reality and give your brain a break from everything else that's going on in the world.
2. Exercise - I have found it really beneficial to do some form of daily indoors exercise. Even if it's just 20 minutes of stretching or finding something on YouTube to follow. I have always enjoyed keeping fit but this time, I'm more focused because I don't have as many distractions.
3. Blogging - I have always loved writing and blog many of the rambles we go on. But through not being able to go on any rambles at the moment (boohoo!) I decided to start writing down the walks I hadn't yet captured on paper. It's been a great reminder of the fun we've had and kept me buoyed to the fact I will be able to ramble with you all again soon.
4. Netflix/YouTube - I have always been a bit of a film buff and love watching documentaries and movies, but rather than fitting it in around everything else I've had going on in my life lately, I have more freedom to pop on a film on a Sunday afternoon, or wake up on a Saturday and instead of rushing off somewhere, put an episode of something on instead. I have also found YouTube a really great way of finding new interests or using it as a tool for my workouts.
5. FaceTime - digital technology has been an integral part of my self-isolated life. I use it to keep in touch with loved ones and it has been an important part of my day in order to stay connected to the outside world, and to let my family and friends know I am there.
6. Working - as I have already mentioned, I am fortunate that I can continue to work from home and am lucky that my team are always there should I need someone to talk to. We have daily Zoom calls and being able to work has allowed me to keep to some form of routine. Although it has been incredibly busy for me, it has also kept my mind busy at a time when I was struggling the most. It's been great to stick to a normal routine when everything else was feeling a little all over the place.
7. Walking - although we are only allowed out for an hour a day to exercise, I have been so grateful that I can still go out for a beloved ramble. When I have been feeling my most stressed or anxious, I walk it out (practicing social distancing of course!) and have found it the best cure to any negative experience I have been feeling. Even if you've not got anywhere beautiful around you to walk, getting out for that hour will make the difference. Just look up at the blue skies we've been lucky enough to have during this period!
8. Social media - yes, social media can have its negative sides, but I have found it a really great tool to stay in touch with all my Cornish Ramblers, and use it as a way to stay connected and reach out to anyone who may be feeling a little low or lonely. I have also found it a great way to find random challenges that you can do indoors, such as the OS Leisure #GetOutsideInside challenge...see below!
9. Stick to a routine - although everything is a little up in the air at the moment, the best thing I have found to keep any form of structure to my days, is having a routine. Try to stick to the same bedtime and get up at a reasonable hour in the morning to make the most of the day.
10. Eat well - yes, it might be hard to eat healthy when you've kids running around doing your head in or you're trying to fit in everything else around a noisy household, but one thing I benefit from is continuing to eat healthy. It not only keeps my body in good condition, it also helps my brain stay focused and I don't feel too sluggish. Don't get me wrong, I still have the odd day where I take a break from vegetables and might have instant noodles for breakfast or a biscuit (or an entire easter egg!) in the evenings, so don't be too harsh on yourself. But I do find keeping healthy keeps me feeling and looking better.
11. Don't wear make up - a weird one I know, but if you're anything like me, I tend to wear make up every single day. But during self-isolation, I don't think I've picked up my liquid eyeliner more than 5 times. Giving my skin time to breathe and pampering myself with the occasional face mask or steam has helped me feel good about myself as well as done my skin a lot of good. This goes for men too, don't be afraid to spend a bit of time grooming yourself or whacking a face mask on!
12. Dance - I swear by dancing in front of your mirror or putting your headphones on to drown out the whining kids or moaning husband, turning up your favourite tunes and dancing like there's no tomorrow. I have been caught many times by my mother recently as I jiggle my way up and down the house, but it never ceases to put a smile on both of our faces. Mainly because of my horrendous attempts at rhythm, which I seem to lack.
13. Vlogging - those of you on Instagram may have seen my little vlogs already, and although they are not professional looking in anyway, they have been fun to do and have given me a focus. My latest one is below and is a typical day in isolation so if you fancy a laugh at my rubbish camera skills, click below and watch me in action. I tend to post once or twice a week so if you want to see more, be sure to head over and following Cornish Ramblings.
14. Have a good cry - don't be afraid to let your emotions take over and if you need a good cry, let it out. Crying releases toxins so it's healthy to have a good sob.
So, there we go. Just a few things I do to keep myself occupied in self-isolation so feel free to take from it what you can. There are other ways I keep myself busy so if you'd like to see a part two, let me know and I can share more ways I keep myself sane and motivated each day.
If you'd like to have a chat about any of the above or want some more information on the exercises I do or the books I'm reading, please get in touch. Either leave a comment below or send me an email.
In my latest newsletter I have popped in a few more suggestions of ways in which you can help your mental health so please click here for all the details, and don't forget to subscribe to not miss out on all the latest news and shenanigans.
Before I go, I do want to take this opportunity to send a huge heartfelt THANK YOU to all of those who are still going out to work. Our wonderful NHS staff who, in order to save lives are putting their own lives at risk as soon as they step through the hospital doors; the shelf fillers in supermarkets who are keeping us fuelled with food and essentials; our postal workers who send and deliver our letters and parcels; our plumbers and heating engineers who are keeping us warm and with water; our midwives for bringing new life into the world; our dentists; our teachers; our social workers; our armed forces; our fire and rescue staff and the police. There are so many people risking their lives in order to save others and we thank each and every one of you.
'We must come together with one heart, one mind, one love and one determination.'