Happiness in social isolation

14 May 2020

These are wild and unpredictable times. Scary times. It’s okay to want to hide under the duvet until it’s all over. But let’s be honest, after three days in a duvet fort it gets pretty boring and lonely.

I thought I would hate ‘being stuck inside’ but actually I’m doing really well.

So, here are my top tips for staying happy in isolation, once the blanket fort euphoria has worn off – tried and tested by myself, a self-proclaimed extrovert and outdoorsy-person.

Accept the situation as it is

This is my first and biggest point. The government have told us repeatedly that we’re in this for the long run: weeks, maybe months. There is nothing we can do about this. Telling yourself you are ‘stuck inside’ or ‘won’t be happy until it’s over’ is a sure fire way to get you down. Yes, we must stay inside. But this does not mean you are stuck. There’s a million things you can do inside and we must accept that for the time being, we must focus our energy on these things. Once you accept it, it becomes a whole lot easier (I promise).

Set goals

Once you do accept we’re in this for the long run, it becomes clear you cannot spend all your time lazing in bed, waiting for it all to be over. I mean, you can, but you probably won’t be happy. All we have is right now. Do you really want to waste months of your life hanging around waiting for things to ‘get better’? Make the most of the time you have: learn a new skill, work on improving the skills you have, pick up something you used to love and build it back into your life. What do you want to achieve by the end of isolation?

Plan your day

Write a ‘to do’ list every day. Include the new skill you want to practice. Include any obligations you have (work, studying, emails etc). No matter how small, just set yourselves some tasks. Even if all you want to do today is watch a film, write that down. This practice will help you feel like you have achieved something with your day.

Get showered and dressed each morning

If you’re working from home or studying, this will get you into the mindset of work. Even if you’re just planning to watch tv, you will feel refreshed and switch into ‘day’ mode. Even if it’s all you do in the day, it can go on the ‘to do’ list and boom! you’ve accomplished something!

Keep in contact with your family and friends

One of the hardest parts of this is, of course, not being able to see our friends and family. But they are still there! Message your friends, check in on them, facetime them. I can’t even explain how much better it is even just to see their face on a screen and hear their voice than just messaging. Also consider if there’s anything you can do together – my family and I have started a daily art competition!

Keep active

Vital for both physical and mental health. Even a 30-minute workout or morning stretching session will boost your mood! I know its hard to drag yourself out of bed for but it’s definitely worth it. If you’re normally sporty you could even start a challenge or do circuits with your teammates via video call!

Go to bed at a regular time each night

Sleeping well is essential for good mental health so try to go to bed at roughly the same time each night and at the same time as normal. Getting a good night’s sleep will boost mood, positivity and productivity. Even though everything else is unpredictable at the moment, your sleep schedule can be controlled and make a huge difference to your overall mood.

So, these are the things I am doing each day, keeping me positive, happy and inspired, even in a troubling time. My daily routine consists of a mixture of productivity, learning, creativity and other mood boosters like exercise and socialising (virtually!).

These tips are drawn from my day-to-day, and by no means professional, experience but I hope will be helpful. They help to create a sense of routine (getting up and dressed, making a to-do list which always includes exercise and a new skill, as well as a regular bedtime), whilst still allowing for variation each day, both of which are vital for good mental health.

This isolation will end and we will get through it. But maybe it’s time to explore the possibility of being happy through it. The times are troubled and different, but we can still be happy.

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