Tips For Surviving (and Thriving in) Isolation

isolation tips expert

It’s a strange world we’re living in, don’t you think? Whether you’re isolating at home or with others, I’ve got some tips to make isolation easier.

I’ve had some first hand experience being in isolation both in hospital and at home and I’ve got good news! It ain’t so bad!

As part of my treatment for thyroid cancer, I took a capsule of radioactive iodine and spent three days in an insulated room in hospital. I was so radioactive that I couldn’t receive any visitors and even medical staff had to approach me from 2 metres away. By the time I left hospital, I still measured a healthy 6.5 on a geiger counter and had to continue to self isolate at home for almost 2 weeks.

One of the hardest things about a cancer diagnosis,  for me anyway, is the loss of control. You have this thing taking over your whole life and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. You may not be able to control what’s happening but you can control how you respond to it and therein is where the power lies.

Like my cancer diagnosis, Covid-19 has come out of nowhere, I don’t know how it’s going to pan out, and I don’t feel like I have any control over what is happening in my world and the world at large.

The big difference between Cancer and Covid-19 is that my thyroid cancer diagnosis was very “me” but Covid-19 is all about the “we” and when I say “we” I mean the greater “we.” 

I’m not a power maker but I really believe that together we can make a difference and I know that there are things I can do to make a positive impact both at home and in my community. The most obvious thing to do is to stay at home and isolate myself from others as much as possible.

As an introvert, this is pretty much my dream come true although I appreciate for some for any number of reasons, it’s their absolute nightmare. So whether you’re yay or nay about isolation and whether you’re isolating alone or with others, for Coronavinus or for radioactive iodine, let me share my tips on how to make isolation a bit more bearable.

1. Change Your Mindset

I can’t impress how important this is. Sometimes you just have to reposition or readjust your thinking. Think of this time at home, not as forced isolation but a time to recharge and reset.

When I was headed to hospital for cancer treatment, I thought of it as a mini-break. This made an experience that could quite frankly be terrifying, a treat! 

2. Be Grateful

Have a Google and there are heaps of studies that show being grateful can make you happy. Rather than stress yourself out with what’s wrong, give thanks for what’s right. Be grateful for isolation, you get to keep yourself (and your family) safe. 

If you’re isolating with radioactive iodine, be grateful for this time to rest, heal and gather your strength. 

I subscribe to the theory that while every day might not be good, there’s something good in every day, even if some days we have to look a little harder to find it! 

3. Connect With Others

If you’re isolating at home with family, take this time to reconnect and enjoy each other’s company without outside distractions although it’s important to have some alone time too, especially if you’re not used to being altogether all of the time.

Keep in touch with friends and family, if you’re not a call person, text instead. Don’t forget the elderly and vulnerable, just a quick call or text can really make a difference to their day.

When I was in isolation, video calls weren’t what they are now and when you’re in isolation they are the closest thing to person to person contact. Check out this post packed with ideas of fun things to do with friends over a video call.

4. Sleep Well

Sleep hygiene is so important, especially at times when we are under stress. Try to stick to your regular sleep routine and if you do wake up in the night and really can’t get back to sleep, get up and have a cup of herbal tea and read a book. Don’t watch TV or check your phone because that pesky blue light will play havoc with your body clock! 

Check out these tips for a great night’s sleep.

5. Laugh

Seriously, laughter is such good medicine.

I spent a disproportionate amount of time in isolation laughing at myself and my situation, waiting to see if I’d glow in the dark and making fun of my own radioactivity.

If you can’t make yourself laugh, talk or text someone or watch a movie that can.

6. Eat Something Delicious

You might actually have to plan ahead for this one. Depending on the reasons you’re isolating, a) you might not feel like cooking and b) you might not be able to.

When I was radioactive and on the low iodine diet, I thanked my past self for filling the freezer with delicious and nutritious meals that both David and I could enjoy, even when we couldn’t eat them together! 

Want to fill your freezer too? Check out these freezer friendly recipes.

7. Write It Down

I’m not really one for journal writing per se but I found that writing about my experiences and feelings while I was in isolation was wonderfully cathartic. In fact, those “word tsunamis” turned into this blog.

I’m not saying that everyone should start a blog – although if you want to, why not?! – but you’ll find that writing your feelings down extremely satisfying. It’s the next best thing to talking to yourself!

8. Self Care

Too often we put self-care at the bottom of our to-do list but when you’re isolating, you’ll have plenty of time on your hands to take care of you.

This will look different for everyone, maybe some time to meditate, soak in a hot bath or like me, give yourself a manicure.

9. Create something, anything!

It doesn’t matter how or what you create, just do it! Whether you knit or sew, draw or paint, colour or crochet or bake your way through isolation. The possibilities are endless and this could be the perfect time to start that craft project that you never have time for. 

I baked my way through self-isolation and found it enormously therapeutic. If you want to bake your feelings, check out these 20 scrumptious sweet treats that you can make with fridge or pantry staples.

10. Go outside

When I was in hospital, I was lucky enough to have a balcony and I took every opportunity to go outside.

If you have a garden or a balcony, get out in it and if you don’t, open a window – there’s nothing like a breath of fresh air! 

11. Read, Watch, Listen

Whether you’re a bookworm, a TV addict, into music or all 3 use your time to work your way through your To-Read/Watch/Listen lists – there is literally a world of entertainment out there and so much of it is free!

If you’re looking for something to watch or read, I’ve got your back with reading recommendations and a plethora of Netflix picks.

12. Get Fit

You might not be able to go to the gym but you’ll still be able to have fun and keep fit at home.

I do a HIIT workout inspired by Not Quite Nigella and I’ve heard great things about Yoga with Adrienne and Les Mills on Demand. Whatever kind of fitness activity you’re into, there’s a You Tube workout for you. Set those endorphins free! 

13. Do 101 Things in 1001 Days

If you have a list of 101 Things in 1001 Days, you’ll be surprised at how many things you can tick off and if you haven’t got one already, there’s no better time to start! 

I’m on my third list and although I won’t be crossing off anything out of the “Adventure” section anytime soon, I have plenty to keep me out of mischief!

How are you feeling right now? Have you got anything to add to the list?Are you an introvert or an extrovert? 

Linking up with Denyse for Life This Week