The roads are eerily quiet and I’m hoping the only people who are travelling – emergency and essential services personnel – will stay safe today and every day.
How do you keep mentally stable in isolation? My first strategy is routine. I get up at the same time every day and go to work – to remind myself there’s still purpose to my day, even when the future and financial security is so uncertain. Okay, I don’t bother with make-up anymore, or my hair (that’s being allowed to go back to its original shade, with bucketloads of grey added), or getting out of comfy clothes. Unexpected bonus of isolation – saving money on personal care products! After feeding the 9 hungry barking, mewing mouths in the house, I get to my computer with my blessed coffee. If the weather is beautiful (such as today) I gaze out the window next to my desk and eventually the patio beckons me to come and draw in the garden. I feel privileged that I have this space. As soon as my urgent admin matters are dealt with, I do a bit of gardening or go for a swim – I’m going to miss my walks with my dogs, but not half as much as they will. Someone suggested playing ball with the dogs. The dogs stare at me, then at one another – “You see – I told you – she’s completely lost it. What am I supposed to do with this pointless yellow blob?”
While the routine for most days is highly flexible, it’s really helpful to have habits to dispel the “deer-in-the-headlights” feeling of no direction or purpose. Routines help me to just do stuff without thinking too much. I think thinking too much can be a very dangerous place to go when you’re alone and isolated.
It’s very tempting to lounge on the couch with a bag of crisps, watching Netflix till bedtime. Weekends I relax my rules – time to get through the piles of books I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to read. Weekdays I make myself a real supper at 7:00pm. Sometimes real means a plateful of leftover veggies or toast with avo and hummus and some fruit, but it’s better than crisps (sometimes). The Netflix call is heeded as soon as supper is plated, and the dogs and snuggle on the couch for some series binging. Whatsapp video calls with my loved ones are the highlight of the day – I’m hoping we can find ways to do meals together virtually or even play some games. I’m also loving playing online Scrabble – it helps me remember there are living human beings out there when I wake up at 4:00am.