How to Manage the Psychological Effects of Self-Isolating
By Dr Becky Spelman
The growing spread of the Coronavirus has brought with it a set of complications that haven’t been seen on this scale for generations. Not since the Spanish flu outbreak of the 1920s has there been a legitimate need for what’s now being called social distancing, self-isolating and to use the most clinical term, quarantine.
For many, time off work might appear as a blessing. But these aren’t ordinary circumstances. People are actively being encouraged to stay indoors and away from others. It’s not the most desirable time to spend away from work if you can’t enjoy interactions with your friends and family. The feeling of being penned in can soon get to even the most resilient and independent amongst us. Confinement can only be tolerated for so long before we begin to exhibit signs of distress. So what can you do to help ease the burden?
One of the biggest obstacles that the virus presents is the panic that is gripping the nation. There is very real anxiety that’s affecting people, which can’t be ignored. But there are ways to get around it. Just because the country is in a state of emergency doesn’t mean you have to be kept up to date at every waking minute. The mainstream news can do you far more harm than good in times of crisis. Remaining informed is obviously important. But if you’re someone who follows the news regularly, try limiting your exposure – at least while the situation continues to escalate.
Catch the developments in the evening with the daily address from the prime minister at 5pm and then turn it off.
The biggest problem after anxiety is what to do with your time. And how well you manage this will depend on your ability to see past what you can’t do, but see what you can do. Self-isolation doesn’t have to be an unpleasant experience – if you choose to see it an opportunity. Many people complain that they never have time to do what they’re really interested in because of work commitments. There aren’t enough hours in the day. Well now is the perfect time to sort through your growing list of chores and do something productive – whatever that may be. If you’ve got a hobby or two, then you’ll find this a lot easier than most. But if not, sorting and tidying will you feel better about spending extended time in your living space. It’s also been shown to have therapeutic effects. Completing repetitive tasks such as tidying can help you take your mind away from any worries you might be experiencing.
Many people have also gotten around the ‘social distancing’ protocol by turning to social media. There’s been a lot said about the over-reliance on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter in recent years. But this is an instance which shows that despite the negativity, they do have a significant upside. They’re tools that help us feel connected and reduce the separation felt between those who’re within touching distance, but can’t interact in-person.
The current measures don’t need to be a hardship. They might be incredibly frustrating, especially for those of you who’re struggling to make an income. But to focus on the negatives will only make an already undesirable situation worse. You give events their meaning through your reactions. It’s much easier said than done, but don’t allow yourself to succumb to the fear. China has now successfully contained the virus with no new reported cases, and there is a clear end in sight. It will take a little time, but we make it through the other side.
About the author:
Dr Becky Spelman is a leading UK Psychologist who’s had great success helping her clients manage and overcome a multitude of mental illnesses.
***If you’re struggling with the challenges of self-isolating and think you might benefit from speaking to someone, we offer a FREE 15-MINUTE CONSULTATION with one of our specialists to help you find the best way to move forward. You can book yours here.
We’re also running group therapy for COVID-19 for those worried about the psychological effects of the virus, self-isolation and quarantine.
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