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How I dealt with self-isolation

Photo by: Annie Spratt

Right as I was about to start my first week of summer after exams my flatmates tested positive for Coronavirus and I had to go into isolation. This meant missing out on finally being able to see my friends and family. I was stuck in a small stuffy room for at least 10 days, unable to buy my own groceries or do laundry. Whilst I was making sure to take care of my body, I also did everything I could to stay healthy mentally. Here’s a list of daily activities I did everyday to maintain my mental health during self-isolation.

The first, and most simple one, opening my window. The CDC (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends having windows open to allow good airflow, this helps with the viral load inside the building, promotes the intake of fresh air and improves air quality. Air quality is very important as it improves sleep quality. An experiment conducted in 2015 found that participants who slept with their windows open reported less sleepiness, felt better, and were more able to concentrate the next morning. Additionally, better interior air quality was found to improve participant’s performance in tests of logical thinking. A study conducted by researchers from the University of Tulsa found that improving classroom ventilation and temperature was found to help raise student’s average test scores.

Even in large and industrialised cities, “the air within homes and other buildings can be more seriously polluted than the outdoor air” states the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Fresh air and good ventilation are essential to getting rid of pathogens, helping with sleep and concentration- open a window for your mental and physical health.

The second involved making sure I made time for the things I enjoy. Taking breaks from consuming news stories is important for our mental health. A study conducted at the beginning of the pandemic revealed that increased time spent on media sources that aim to inform about coronavirus was associated with higher levels of mental distress in participants. While being informed is good, hearing non-stop about the pandemic can be damaging. Podcasts, audiobooks, radio shows, or even just having a show on in the background, can entertain and keep you company.

I’ve kept a journal for most of my life, and during those weeks in isolation having somewhere to confide my thoughts really helped. I thoroughly recommend it. “We write to taste life twice,” wrote Anaïs Nin “in the moment and in retrospect.” Writing has been found to have a variety of psychological benefits, but there isn’t yet one unifying theory of why that all researchers agree upon. Some studies claim that writing fosters self-awareness and introspection, by shining a light onto our internal world. Journaling can reduce distress, it helps you figure out your concerns and priorities, and provides a space where you can express your emotions, letting them out instead of bottling them up.

Last but not least, I made sure that I talked to someone at least once a day. Isolation and quarantine make it nearly impossible to see others, and missing your normal day to day interactions is completely normal. There are plenty of ways to maintain contact with your loved ones, such as speaking over the phone, using video-calling platforms (such as Facetime, Skype, or Zoom), and social media. Looking after our relationships contributes to our overall well-being, and is protective of our mental health. Positive interactions boost our mood, give us a sense of belonging, and provide a support system many of us need during these challenging times.

It’s important to remember that self-isolation won’t last forever, and that you will soon be able to go back to doing the things you enjoy. Staying at home can be difficult. Different things work for different people, and finding what helps you cope takes some time. Here at FitQuid we aim to motivate the community to live a healthy lifestyle, by promoting mental and physical health.



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