I can say with absolute certainty that I’m not the only one sitting here with anxious thoughts flying around my head at 100mph. So, I thought I would try and do something positive with that. Something has occurred to me, and many others with chronic healthy conditions… We’re pretty expert at dealing with self isolation! So, if this is a new (possibly frightening!) concept for you, let me see if I can help… (And, if nothing else, I’ll just fill this with pretty pictures of ‘comfort’ beading to make you smile!)
(If you want some comfort, you can’t go wrong with cupcakes!)
What is self isolation?
For anyone reading this in some future where Corona Virus is a distant memory, I’m writing this post at a time when people in countries around the world are being asked to ‘self isolate’. This can have a huge impact on your mental health. So, if you are struggling, you may also like to read this post from BetterHelp. It offers some great advice, and also links to professional help if you should need it.
Now, self isolation isn’t a new concept for me. I’ve been experiencing enforced ‘self isolation’ for varying lengths of time for the past 18 years. I have a chronic health condition known as CFS/ME. It translates to me facing spells of time where my body feels too sick to cope with normal life. At times, I have been so sick that getting out of bed was almost impossible. I have also had periods where I was ‘simply’ housebound. And, I’ve had spells where I’ve been able to enjoy a semblance of social life, like anyone else.
The thing is, experience has taught me a few lessons. You may be about to – or already – facing the prospect of isolating yourself in your own home for weeks, or even months. So, what challenges will that bring? What tips and tricks can I share for dealing with self isolation?
Similarities and differences
Firstly, I think I should point out something. Although there are a lot of parallels between the self isolation imposed by governments to try and protect their populations against COVID-19, and ‘being housebound’ with a chronic illness, these two things are not identical.
Self isolating because of an illness can also mean you feel very unwell (to state the blindingly obvious!). So, in this instance, you actually don’t miss going out because you simply don’t feel like doing it. And of course, you have the double whammy of missing out on life AND feeling rubbish in the process.
Usually, when I’m finding myself ‘confined to barracks’, I’m missing out on things I want to be doing. For me, that’s often going to watch the Royal Ballet in London. With the COVID-19 self isolation, there is no FOMO. Things, like the theatre, pubs, restaurants, are being shut down. So, you couldn’t go and enjoy them even if you wanted to! So, it’s kind of strange to find myself in a position where I’m not following a train of thought that goes something like this…
- I don’t feel at all good today
- But I have tickets to go and watch the ballet this evening
- How much discomfort am I feeling?
- Could I put up with this and go and enjoy the ballet?
- Would the distraction of the ballet be good for me?
- Or would I end up being more ill for longer because I went out?
- So, I decide one way or the other…
- …then wonder if I made the right decision!
When I’m housebound, I’m in the minority facing this. So, I’m not having to fight to get a delivery slot for food! …and I’m pretty sure many more inconveniences that are about to become clear in the near future.
(Some luck in case you need it!)
Top tips for dealing with self isolation
I titled this as ‘dealing with self isolation for beaders’. That’s mainly because most of my audience are beaders. But actually, what I’m about to share applies to anyone.
As an outsider looking in, you might be thinking it’s great to stay at home all the time. I mean, you get to decide when you get up. You can binge-watch Netflix all day. You can call a few friends, spend as much time on social media as you want. There’s a whole load of chores and responsibilities outside the house that you simply don’t have to deal with. So, what’s the problem?
Firstly, this ‘utopia’ quickly wears very thin. (Back to my earlier comment – it’s not even a utopia at all if you’re feeling ill and in pain). You come to realise there’s a flip side to it all: it takes its toll mentally.
You might not even have realised how much you identified yourself and your ‘worth’ with the things you do. So, what happens when you can’t do those things any more? How do you feel about yourself? How ‘worthwhile’ as a human being are you now?
It was really important for me to find a new sense of purpose in life. When I got sick, my entire life was turned on its head and I didn’t know how long that would last.
So, discovering beading was huge. It was the first time I found myself able to do something productive, with a tangible result at the end. It also turned out that beading was relaxing, so therapeutic…more on that shortly…
So, my first tip is to find yourself a purpose. If you’re working from home, then that bit is done for you. You will still be working – you’re just figuring out the logistics of a new setup.
But, if you’re not working from home, all those hours you filled with social activities are going to seem very, very long and boring. So, you need to find a hobby. Or maybe do some kind of home project that you’ve been putting off for ages. Maybe its as simple as spending quality time with the people in your home. Or maybe you start home cooking instead of grabbing microwave meals or takeaway.
And, if you’re already a beader, this is heaven…it’s the best excuse you’ve had in years for completing all those UFOs (Unfinished Objects, for any non-beaders reading this).
If you’re not yet a beader and you fancy giving it a try, I’ve got a lot of beginner patterns on this website. You can find some free demos to help you on my YouTube channel…and on many other YouTube channels! So, why not give it a try?!
And, if you join my mailing list, you’ll get tons of tips and free tutorials to help you get started.
(A few beginner projects to whet your appetite!)
I just alluded to this in the last tip…relaxation.
We are being bombarded with news about the virus, all of which is frankly very scary. You’re probably worried for loved ones too. Maybe you’re worried about your job or your business. Worried about getting food, about how life will change… In fact, in all of this, for many people, catching the virus can become the least of their worries.
So, with all those thoughts buzzing around your head, you really, really need to find ways to relax and shut it all out. Not just because it’s not much fun worrying. But, did you know that stress has a negative impact on your immune system? (It does!) I think we can all agree that staying fit and healthy has to be a priority. If you are unlucky enough to get sick, you want to feel that your immune system is in a good place to fight an illness.
So, seriously, find something you can do to relax you and take your mind off everything.
You know what I’m going to suggest…? Yes, beading of course!
For years, I’ve been using this to relax and unwind. So, if you’re already a beader, I’m sure you know how much it helps. Which means you should be using it as a great tool for dealing with self isolation and the fear of this situation.
If you’re not a beader – and not about to become one – then my other go-to tool is ‘Yoga With Adriene’. That’s been an important relaxation method for me for four years now. So, huge thanks to Adriene for the fun, kind, beautiful yoga videos she puts together every week. I’d recommend anyone to give that a go…and here’s the link to her website for you. (I just did ‘Stress Melt’ video earlier today…I think it’s a pretty good one for all levels and it does help with the stress!)
You’re probably wondering why, when I’m talking about dealing with self isolation, I haven’t mentioned loneliness yet.
I think everyone assumes that is going to be the biggest hurdle to overcome. For some people, it will be. I have to say, although I love a good party as much as anyone (I certainly made the most of my social life back at university…!), I’m also very comfortable in my own company.
So, I’m not too sure whether it’s the amount of isolation I’ve dealt with, but I don’t really find loneliness a challenge.
I speak to my Mum on the phone every single day. I have a lot of contact with the beading community because of this website. So, that might be answering emails, or using social media. And I have skype for chatting with friends all around the world.
Those are the tools that I use day in, day out. I’m also lucky enough to have friendly neighbours. Coming up to the summer months now, we can’t avoid seeing each other out of doors in our gardens. So, I know we’ll be able to maintain a ‘safe’ distance, but still have a face-to-face conversation.
My tip here is make sure you find ways to talk to other people, whether virtually or for real. It may not be as good as the social life you’re used to. But hopefully it’s not going to be for too long.
And it’s not all about what you need. Try and think about the people around you. What can you do to make sure their physical isolation doesn’t turn into actual loneliness and depression?
(A little dose of sunshine to brighten your day!)
However you look at this, it’s a pretty dire situation that we’re facing throughout the world. I don’t know about the rights and wrongs, or which government is dealing with it best. I know a lot of people are suffering and are going to suffer more, in a variety of ways. There are going to be a lot of things we can’t control.
So, let me leave you with a few final thoughts…
This is going to test your personal resilience, whatever your situation. You have two choices: whinge and cry and moan about it, or find ways to be proactive and look for new opportunities. Look for the things you can control and be sure you make the best of them.
I would like to hope this could be an opportunity for humans to grow a little more understanding. That could be thinking more about others. It could be a society with a better understanding of what it feels like to have a chronic illness. I hope it won’t turn into an ‘every man/woman for him/herself and screw everyone else’ society. Going back to the beading world: I have experienced a lot of kindness and love in this community. In more recent times, I have also experienced a lot of rudeness and thoughtlessness. I hope it’s the kind and compassionate side that will triumph in this situation.
The little things…
There are silver linings here, if you choose to see them. My illness has undoubtedly been a curse. But it has also been a great gift. It has given me the opportunity to grow in new ways. I have been forced to slow down and appreciate the little things in life. That may sound cliched, but if this gives you a chance to try that, I think you’ll see it’s actually a real gift.
Don’t make a bad situation worse…
My inbox has been full of emails from the businesses I use, all updating me on how the Pandemic is affecting them. I can see that a lot of businesses in certain sectors are going to be facing terrible problems, unavoidably. So, I just wanted to remind you to think as well… Absolutely follow the guidelines to prevent spread of the disease. But don’t let them push you into panic that sees you stop supporting businesses unless it’s critical to your health or the health of others. It’s hard to see how we can avoid economic problems, but we don’t have to make them worse than they need be. Please be sensible and mindful!
So, yes, there is a lot of bad in this situation. Let’s be honest, dealing with self isolation isn’t always a lot of fun. But there is also good if you look for it, make it happen, and appreciate it when it does.
Stay well, be kind to one another, and feel free to share any tips you have in the comments below.
And, for all you beaders, I’ll be taking this as a chance to create a lot more beading fun. So, if you’re not already, join my mailing list so you can be a part of it too 🙂