Time spent at home: Isolation tips for us all

Right now, we are all spending a LOT more time indoors at home, whether through self-isolation or simply abiding by the Government advice to stay home where possible. It's a concept we're not used to, and for many it can feel quite a struggle... we've all been robbed of our social needs. At Barracloughs we have put together a number of tips to help you through, from simply beating the boredom to improving your mental health during this difficult period.

This article is not strictly optician related but recently we have been delivering spectacles, contact lenses and dry eye products to many customers. During these deliveries we saw all kinds of people from elderly and high-risk to younger generations and everything in between. All very different but all in the same boat, many anxious during such uncertain times. We felt it was worthwhile putting together this short guide... 

Above all... stay hygienic

Firstly, keep your daily routine hygienic. We need to stop the spread, even when indoors.

  • wash your hands with soap and water often, for at least 20 seconds
  • use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • put used tissues in the bin straight away and wash your hands afterwards
  • clean objects and surfaces you touch often (like door handles, kettles and phones) using your regular cleaning products
  • clean a shared bathroom each time you use it, for example by wiping the surfaces you have touched

Do not share towels, including hand towels and tea towels. If you have symptoms and live with a vulnerable person (someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system), try to arrange for them to stay with friends or family for 14 days. If you have to stay at home together, try to keep 2 metres (3 steps) away from each other. If possible, try not to share a bed.

Treating coronavirus symptoms at home
To help yourself stay well while you're at home, get plenty of rest and sleep (easier said than done for those with children!). Also drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. If you need to get medical help from home, please see details here from the NHS.

Keeping busy at home

If you're lucky enough to have a garden or yard, spend some time out there. Just getting some fresh air and sunshine can really help lift your mood. At the time of writing, the Government allows one form of exercise a day, such as a run/walk, or cycle - alone or with members of your household. Use this time to stretch your legs and enjoy a sensible walk. Consider those around you when you are out walking. 

You are going to have an awful lot of time to yourself at home, this will feel like even longer if you live alone. Social media can be a fantastic way to stay in touch with friends, family, and other social groups. However, use social media wisely - more on that below! How is your Netflix list looking? Now is the time to catch up on any TV shows you are behind on! If sitting and watching TV feels too lazy, exercising can take up time and leave you feeling like you've done something worthwhile and improve your mood. There are so many YouTube workouts around now, Joe Wicks being flavour of the month for many. Lack of activity can make you feel more sluggish and lethargic. It doesn't have to be high intensity exercise, Yoga or Pilates can help just as much.

Exercise at home to pass the time and feel the benefit
Exercise at home to pass the time and feel the benefit

If you have hobbies, spend more time on those, especially anything creative like art, design or music. It might be that you're still working from home remotely during this pandemic - introduce a little structure to your day to ensure you're disciplined to achieve all you set out to achieve each day. Set some targets!

Everything around us is different to what we are used to. Try to keep a hint of normality and stick to your usual everyday routine where possible.

Look after your mental health

This drastic change in everyday life can easily have an effect on our mental health, here are a few small tips on making the most of each day and making sure your mind stays as healthy as your body. 

Speak to friends, speak to family
It's fantastic to speak to friends and loved ones and if the current situation has shown us anything, it is probably that we don't speak to each other enough. Instant messaging is how most of us communicate: SMS, WhatsApp, Messenger. Some would argue that they don't feel they're communicating unless there's an emoji included. How long is it since you picked up the phone and spoke to that friend you've not seen for so long? Even better, video calling lets you add that extra dimension to your contact. Sure, there are no emoji's involved but you get see expressions, environments and in some cases, funny filters to bring a smile! There are all kinds of ways to communicate via video, such as Skype, WhatsApp, Messenger and Zoom. Make sure you're hooked up to your WiFi to avoid hefty data charges though!

Simply reach out
If you're feeling alone, bored, sad or irritated, you're not alone. There will be so many others feeling the same way. They might not think to call you, so why not make the first move? Drop someone a line. You could end up improving their day as well as your own. Even sending the odd text to let them know you're thinking about them can work wonders for all involved.

Mindfulness
This is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment - and accepting it all without an ounce of judgment. It has been found to be a key element in stress relief and overall happiness. There are many free apps available to guide you and assist with breathing techniques and focus techniques. If you're struggling with anxiety you could find some very useful meditation techniques to help clear your mind. Headspace is a very popular choice though there are many others around such as Calm or Insight Timer.

Keep calm with the help of mindfulness apps
Keep calm with the help of mindfulness apps

Exercise
As mentioned above, Yoga can be used as an ideal way to relax. Gentle exercise like this can quickly boost your mood. You may find that you thoroughly enjoy it and wonder why you didn't start it sooner.

Use social media... for the right reasons
Have you ever sat and scrolled through pages of social media and then wondered why you spent your time that way? Have you thought about how this could be affecting your mental health? By muting or unfollowing certain accounts that make you feel anxious, upset or angry, you're a step closer to using social media for the best reasons... to be social. Follow more positive accounts like @artofwb, @Gunnar, @MindfulEveryday and @greatist that boost your mood and cover topics that might interest you.

Limit social media activity for positive content only
Limit social media activity for positive content only

Take a break from reading too much news
It can be very tempting to keep checking on the current news, but this could easily have an effect on how you feel, especially in the current climate. Perhaps give yourself a set time to check the news, say for 30 minutes in the evening each day. That way you can catch up on the daily news without checking too many times.

The hot topic doesn't have to be the hot topic
Right now, everywhere you turn you see the words "Coronavirus", "COVID-19", "Pandemic" or "Unprecedented". Yes, this is a worldwide problem right now, but it is okay to speak about a different subject. Don't feel bad by asking anybody if you can speak about other subjects. Take everybody's minds off what's going on, we all still have to live.

Keep safe everybody.

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