Coping and COVID-19: Strategies to help with self isolation

Category: Motivation

Self isolation is not something I am good at doing.

I am a very social person, and even though I recharge by myself in my own space, I thrive off being with people in all forms: socializing, teaching, coaching, dancing, sharing, experiencing and connecting. Every day in some way or another.

These last few days, I’ve learned to turn to some of my peers in the SCI community for some advice on self isolation.

If you are reading this and live with an SCI or another disability, you understand isolation can be commonplace for maybe yourself or others alike.  This is for many reasons, with some being due to accessibility, affordability, confidence and/or depression, to name a few.

Knowing that we all must be in some form of isolation right now, I thought I could share with you some of the techniques that I have been utilizing to help cope.

Some are practices I have put into place through exploration or past experiences of feeling anxious or uncertainty. Others are some that were suggested to me from the SCI community and have helped me tremendously. If you are feeling a bit uneasy with today’s world situation, I would recommend reading through some of these suggestions I have listed below.

  1. Call someone you care about.

Maybe it’s someone who has a different schedule than you and has been difficult to connect with in the past. Most of our schedules have calmed down now for the foreseeable future, so why not try to contact them now for a catch up?

Humans have an instinctual desire to connect with one another, which is part of why we are seeing a lot of media attention on people not able to abide by the social distancing recommendations at public places like beaches and parks.

Better yet if it’s accessible to you, try Facetime or apps like Zoom where you can get a virtual visit in. I know when I chat with my friends living in Los Angeles over Zoom calling, it helps so much to be able to see their faces and smiles that I miss day to day and brings back so many positive memories.  

2. Try a daily meditation

Meditations can be done on your own, or if you are newer to them sometimes its great to follow a guided one. I personally love and use the Headspace app, which is free and has great guided meditations for things like anxiety and worry.

Not into meditation?

Hey, that’s OK. Try taking a few moments of silence instead and focus on your breath.

How to start:

Think of breathing deep into the core of your belly, expanding your diaphragm and then expanding the lungs in your chest. On the exhale, focus on expelling the air from your lungs and then from your belly. You can even put on one of your favorite chill songs in the background to help you relax. Music therapy is great for calming our nerves and slowing the mind down of unwanted chatter.  

3. Create designated news and social media times

I don’t know about you, but my phone is constantly updating me with worldwide news on COVID-19 outbreaks near and far- literally every hour! When I wake up to this first thing in the morning, it puts me in an agitated, angry and fearful state. This is not how I like to start my days, as it can spiral me downwards.

As tempting as it is, try setting designated times to check social media/ news updates on our current events. Limit this to twice a day if possible, and preferably not first thing in the morning. I find that if I keep my normal morning routine with a few minutes of light stretching and meditation I am much calmer and can read the news without the fear and anxiety feelings.

4. Tackle an at home project that you’ve been putting off

Remember that project you wanted to start but didn’t have the time? Well, you probably have time now! One of the biggest complaints I’m reading about from people on social media is that they are ‘bored at home’.

I don’t know about you, but when I feel like I can accomplish something, it boosts my mood!

Start by creating a list of things that you would like to get done but haven’t had time in the past. Aim to tackle one per day, depending on how big the project.

On days where I am not really leaving my apartment, this makes me feel like I’m accomplishing things. Because I’m having to significantly scale back my coaching and teaching due to social distancing, this task accomplishing brings me purpose to my day.

5. Visualize

I am grateful to say that I had a lot of travel planned for this year. Unfortunately, though because of this D*MN virus I have had to cancel two of my international trips so far, with others in cue.

As crappy as this is, I’m not the only one. Many people have had events cancel, big and small. Before they announced the delay of the 2020 Olympics, Canada pulled out their athletes! Can you imagine what these athletes are feeling?

Canceled plans can be very hard to deal with because it doesn’t give us much to look forward to. Something I suggest trying is visualization. This is a great technique to help with your mood and intentions for what you want to attract in your life.

How to do:

Visualize that event or that next trip you want to go on. Shut your eyes. Breath in the surroundings.

If you are at the Stones concert, hear the drums deep in your belly vibrating while Mick Jagger dances across the stage like a 24-year-old.

Taste the salty breeze on your lips and feel the wind in your hair from that sailing trip off Jericho.

Whatever it is, create it in your head and feel it with your body. The effects that this can have on us is quite like if we were there experiencing these things. When I practice visualization, in even the hardest of times I can find myself smiling and feeling peaceful.

These are some techniques that have been working for me over the past couple of weeks, not just days. Maybe you have some of your own techniques that work for you in times such as these?

Whatever you do, I encourage you to stick with them, and press on. Something else that can bring some ease is knowing that we are all in this together. Every single one of us. Take one day at a time and we will get through this!

Your coach,

Megan Williamson

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