Una's Blog


Una’s little world 27. Life in captivity

by Una Hearne.

Welcome to the world of self-isolation everyone! Most of us with chronic illnesses have lived for years in partial or total self-isolation, so I thought I’d share some random tips and thoughts to help you in this new adventure.

First, for your mental health, accept this new situation totally as it is right now. Decide to learn to become comfortable with uncertainty. These are daily practices and not one-off decisions. The sooner you get these down, the less energy you will waste in resistance and worry, neither of which help you in the slightest. Get out and get some fresh air and exercise if and when you can, and maintain contact with friends and family by phone and online.

If you are grounded with your family or roommates remember everyone needs personal space, time alone, to relax and decompress. Everyone. How much time you need varies widely from person to person and day to day. It is worth having a household meeting to discuss this and ensure each person can get the time and space they need, at home or outside. Also look for things you can do together which make you happy and bring you closer. Create more peace than war.

If you are out of work or working from home and you find it unnerving to have your time suddenly unstructured and under your control, make a new structure. You need anchors in your day – it could be set mealtimes, specific working time, your favourite TV programme, alone time, etc. Whatever works for you is perfect and you find out what works for you by trying things out.

If you are working from home, prove it works. Organisations need to facilitate a lot more of this to reduce the appalling commutes being endured and allow more flexible working. If they see it works, the whole agenda of remote working will take a leap forward.

If you have lost your job/income, even temporarily, face the money issues first. Apply for the covid payment immediately if necessary and then sit down and do a budget for the next month. When you see how that works out, do longer term budgets. From my own experience of sudden large drops in income, I can tell you ignoring the money issues just creates a bigger badder monster to face later. Also I found there is enormous pride and satisfaction to be gained from living well on very little.

So yes you do have to look at the practicalities and figure out how you are going to survive and how everyone is going to get along. But, be very mindful, anything that you cannot know yet or cannot figure out yet because it is unknown, is to be left for another day. Once you have made your plans bring your attention right back here to this moment. What are you doing today? What will feed your soul, relax your mind and body and comfort you? This is a big life upheaval for a lot of people, you will need extra time and rest to process your emotions.

After the initial shock you can look at the opportunities that this situation presents. It’s a good time to take stock of your life. If you lost your job or you hate your job, do you want your old job back after the crisis? Or is this an opportunity to explore what other options might be available to you? You can research any kind of work online and educate yourself for free in any number of areas.

Ask yourself, ‘How could I use my skills, talents and experience to help others in this crisis?’ At worst you could contribute to your community. At best you might discover new jobs or businesses for your future.

This time is also a huge opportunity for you to do something special for yourself. If you always seem to be running, this is an opportunity to stop and rest. Just flop, do nothing, switch off, watch netflix, read, meditate, listen to music… whatever works to restore your mind and body. There is nothing wrong with doing nothing if it makes you well and happy.

On the other hand if you prefer to be active, brainstorm a list of activities you would enjoy but never normally have time to do. For example: art and crafts; cooking; exercise; music; non-contact sports; DIY/ decorating; de-clutter/spring clean; garden; dance; etc. Or learn something new – there is an endless number of you tube video tutorials and free online training in every imaginable subject.

Don’t get suckered into expensive ways to deal with stress by numbing your feelings: excessive food; alcohol or drugs; online shopping; gambling etc. You really don’t want to get trapped into making other people richer as you impoverish yourself. And of course, the cost of addictions is not just financial.

Unlike those of us with chronic illnesses, you still have your health and energy. So while self-isolation is a strange new experience for you, please consider it can also be an excellent opportunity to explore your life. 🙂

Have fun

Una x


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