8 ways to stay grounded during social isolation
It’s only been a few weeks, but for many it will be starting to feel like a lifetime since we lived regular lives before social distancing as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak.
Although individual situations are different, there is one thing that we all have in common, that this is a challenging time where we are having to adapt to a new lifestyle very quickly. In many of our living situations we may be finding it frustrating being in close contact with those around us, or maybe even your position has left you living alone with little social contact, causing anxiety and stress.
Sound familiar? We feel your pain. It could just be the perfect time to check out our top tips on how to stay grounded during isolation…
1. Get back in touch with a hobby you once loved
It’s time to accept that we’re going to be housebound for quite a while, so why not use this time to get back around to doing those things you’ve been meaning to for a while pre-isolation?
There are so many free tools online to utilise if you want to stay grounded and calm by taking up a hobby – whether it’s singing lessons, learning how to draw or maybe even improving something you already do every day, such as cooking. London’s Borough Market, for instance, has created a free recipe sharing community space via its Instagram IGTV @BoroughMarket so that you can forget about your worries and get lost in food! Musicians such as Laura Marling are also giving free guitar tutorials – Laura has featured her most famed songs on her IGTV @LauraMarling.
And remember, don’t put pressure on yourself to think you need to be the best at any hobby you take up – some things can be just for you to enjoy and not for a glamorous Insta snap to show everyone how “amazingly well” your isolation is going.
2. Be honest with others around you…
Maybe you don’t feel like socialising today? That’s completely fine! Check in with your feelings first before anyone else’s and assess what you need. If you’re worried about coming across anti-social to any of those you’re in isolation with – be honest – tell them that you just need some headspace, and time to yourself to reflect or go for a walk.
Bear in mind, it’s also really important to ask yourself what you truly need, as simply talking things out with someone can also be a great way to stay grounded. For you, maybe it works better to tackle things by opening up a conversation with a housemate or a friend on Facetime and telling them exactly how you’re struggling at the moment – it always feels instantly better to have our issues said out loud. You can even make it clear from the get-go that you don’t need any advice, you might just need a sounding-board and a set of ears to listen to how crap you’re feeling today.
And remember, as harsh as it sounds, if you have any unsupportive relationships or people with damaging opinions – ones that you’ve flagged to them time and time again without any changes being made – don’t feel you need to nurture those relationships as much right now if they’re bringing you down.
3. Exercise (and leave your phone at home!)
Our bodies are naturally designed to move, and so it can be extremely challenging both physically and mentally at these times to remain at home, often sitting in the same spot all day. As a very primitive example, a Sims game character goes crazy if it stays in the house for too long and doesn’t fill up it’s ‘environment’ mood bar – that’s the same for us real humans too after a while. No matter how much you give yourself enough sleep and food, we need that variety in scenery too to bring up our mood – like a Sim, even having one of our essential needs not being met, can send us spiralling.
So, even if it’s for just a short walk – or a run, if you’re feeling up to it – be sure to try and take advantage of the fact that we’re able to do one form of exercise a day to leave the house. If you do, try to keep your phone at home so that you can find some time to catch up with your thoughts.
If you’d rather stay put at home, there’s good news too! Top gyms around the UK are quickly adapting their fitness offerings so that you can workout from home – or even better, in your garden if you have one! If you’re craving a home workout, why not try one of these?
- Yoga – Perfect for checking back in with your breathing and mental balance. If you want to use yoga as a way to stay grounded, FLY LDN is running free content via IGTV. Check out their schedule @fly_ldn
- HIIT – Let out some tension and any pent-up emotions, channelling it into a 30 minutes killer sweat sesh. An ‘Antidote to boring gyms’, Gymbox is running free online content for a number of its many class offerings via IGTV, including its high intensity ‘Metcon’ class. Find out more @GymboxOfficial
- Pilates – Get a full body workout and walk away feeling more in tune with your body. Luxury studio Core Collective is running a number of their classes via a new online format, ‘CCTV’. You can try a seven day free trial of its new platform – more info at the studio’s website.
4. Stay grounded with a digital detox
Switch off the news once you’ve seen it. It’s important to keep up-to-date with the government’s guidelines on our current situation and the overall global state, however, there’s no benefit in watching the same fear-inducing stats replayed on TV time and time again.
Sometimes when things get “just too much”, it’s important to stay grounded by disconnecting from the rest of the world for a minute, and checking back in with yourself. Don’t be scared to switch off your phone for a while – your friends will be there for you when you switch it back on. You’ll be surprised how less screen time will give you improved balance, especially during a time when we’re looking at screens more than ever.
Tip: Try going into the ‘your activity’ menu within your Instagram account settings and set a daily reminder for Instagram to tell you when you’ve reached a sensible amount of screen time, and you might just find you become less glued to your smartphone.
5. Write to-do lists
In many of our circumstances, our plans of action ahead of us have become more complex and often very unclear. With this all happening within the space of only a few weeks, it is natural there will be times we feel hugely overwhelmed trying to figure out what to do next.
Stay grounded by taking one thing at a time. Offload those thoughts from your head into a physical to-do list and stop them bouncing around in your head endlessly. Start to prioritise which tasks are easy to tackle and what is urgent straight away with numbers (‘1’ for the most important, ‘2’ being less urgent, and so on) and sleep better knowing you have things more under control.
Likewise, if you have any confusing thoughts and feelings you’re having issues getting to the bottom of, put down on paper how you’re feeling, take them out of your brain and find clarity so that you can start to work out how to address each emotional concern.
6. Practice breathing and meditation
You may have already tried yoga as a form of meditation. If that isn’t your thing, there are many other ways you can channel your thoughts and stay grounded.
Meditation apps in particular have seen a real uprising in the last couple of years, which is no surprise as they are becoming ever more sophisticated and equipped with larger and larger content libraries.
You can even try out several meditation apps for a free trial.
Check out Headspace for a free 2 week trial (£9.99 monthly thereafter) and other mindfulness app Calm which also offers a week’s free period. Find out if it works for you before you decide to make an investment.
7. Listen and read away your problems
Putting your feet up and listening to a podcast at these times can be a really effective form of escapism.
In particular, there are bags of wellness podcasts giving proactive advice on wellbeing and mental health.
Podcasts such as Fearne Cotton’s popular Happy Place and Quarantine FM – a radio station launched to help those feeling overwhelmed by isolation, including shows from fitness personalities such as Gymbox trainer Jemimah Freeside with ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ – will not only pass time on slow days inside the house, but will also leave you with some food for thought on dealing with enviable wellbeing issues caused by the global pandemic.
If you want something more light-hearted to completely forget about “unprecedented” matters, presenters Juno Dawson and Dylan Jones have just launched a new season of their hilarious ‘So I Got To Thinking’ podcast. Released just in time to remedy self-isolation blues, each episode explores the themes and questions of early Sex In The City episodes – which leads to some surprisingly sophisticated and insightful matters for debate! You can listen to it on Apple Podcasts.
Podcasts don’t quite do it for you? Stay grounded by taking things back to basics with a good ol’ fashion book. There really are so many online channels to find out about new and well-loved literature!
In particular, Soulcycle instructor Lauren Naomi is taking a break from challenging her class goers with their physical fitness in the saddle by helping improve the public’s mental health with a new digital book club. Lauren has launched ‘book clurb 2020’ in a bid to help keep brains ticking over whilst the gyms are shut, and the good news is that anyone is welcome to get involved! The club meets (digitally) every Wednesday via Zoom to discuss literature. Find out more at Lauren’s Instagram @LaurenNaomi_.
Journalist Alice-Azania Jarvis’ podcast The Sunday Salon is also running new episodes throughout the nation’s self-isolation, which focuses on celebrating brilliant books and is an ideal source for the newest and best literature. You can also listen to it on Apple Podcasts.
8. Stop beating yourself up about things you have no control over…
The key thing to remember above all is that things happening as a result of Coronavirus are not your fault. You did not ask for a global pandemic to happen and shake up your life. Any choices you made in the run up to this that haven’t panned out are not something to beat yourself up about.
Try and remember in times of fear and sadness that – whilst we’re all within unique situations – everyone is feeling the effects of this. You are not alone! Now is the time for us to be kinder to each other more than ever.
George Palmer is a writer and personal trainer, and is putting out free online home fitness content via his Instagram to help ease the physical and mental impacts of reduced mobility during social isolation.
George has also launched one-to-one online training and for more information or to get in touch visit his website.