How to stay safe and sane during coronavirus isolation

Structure your day

For some people, self-isolation might still lead to some mild mental health issues. We know from people who have spent a winter in a polar research station that longer-term isolation and confinement are linked to psychological problems. One study found that in crews over-wintering, over 60% reported feeling depressed or anxious; and nearly 50% felt more irritable and had problems with memory, sleeping, and concentrating.

Obviously, coronavirus self-isolation won’t be as extreme or as long as for those exposed to an Arctic winter and so the impact on mental wellbeing is likely to be much less extreme. But some people who are self-isolating may have difficulties with sleep (insomnia), feelings of restlessness or sadness, or start to feel demotivated.

To combat these problems, it is important to maintain a structure to your day. Having a set schedule for meal times and a set bedtime can help you to stay on track. Planning out activities and setting goals can also help keep you motivated and stop you from feeling down.

It’s important to remember to treat yourself if you’re feeling down, so do something you enjoy. This might be painting, baking, reading or playing video games. Buy yourself some paint, ingredients, new books or even a gamepad for eSports gaming and spend however long you can doing what you enjoy each day.

Exercise is also vital to keep your physical fitness up but also to help get the blood pumping to your brain. Aim to work out every day, even if only for half an hour, or go for a walk. Mowing the lawn also counts, as does vigorous housework like hoovering, so you can kill two birds with one stone!

Finally, try to keep your diet in check. It can be easy to comfort eat when you’re feeling lonely or stressed, so try to limit snacks to fruit or nuts and maintain three full meals a day.

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