Being in quarantine or isolated at this time can be extremely difficult. Especially for those who have mental health issues or suffer from anxiety and depression. What we see on the news and hear on the radio can be somewhat daunting at the best of times and now it is just heightened a thousand times over. What people fail to look at in a lot of situations we face in out lives is how it is affecting our mental health. How is being alone or isolated affecting us as human beings? Generally humans are social, free beings and being told you have to stay inside and not be with friends and family is something that is completely unnatural to us. To many of us this can cause us to feel like we do not have control over our lives.
Over the last few days I have been asking people how quarantine and the pandemic is making them feel, how they are coping with it and if they actually like it.
I ran a little poll in Instagram, the questions and general consensus below:
Has Isolation affected your mental wellbeing? Based on 13 people answering this question, only 3 people said lockdown has not affected their mental health at all, so just over 23%. 1 person actually felt the lock down had improved their mental health, possibly suggesting their ‘normal’ day to day life was too hectic and stressful, maybe even prompting them to change it when all of this is over. 4 people said they have a lot of mixed feelings about the situation. Some days they feel great and happy, other days they have no motivation and feel less happy. One person comparing it to a rollercoaster of emotions. I would say this is most likely where I fit on the scale, ups and downs, trying my best to see the light at the end of the tunnel. 5 people said yes, the current world crisis has certainly had an impact on their mental health, and 2 of them who said yes even admitted to having severe panic attacks since the lockdown had begun. One of the most common reasons people said it had affected their mental health is the lack of certainty, control, planning and not knowing what the future will hold.
One person saying “Yes!! Not having a structure or routine in life or knowing what to plan for the future”
Another saying “Yes I’m suffering really bad with my mental health and had a break down 2 days ago x”
What do you miss from ‘normal’ life the most? Based on 11 people answering this question 1 person said they missed fast food, 1 person missed not having to queue for the supermarket, 1 person missed travelling and freedom, and 8 people all said the one thing they are missing most is being away from friends and family. I don’t think as humans we really understand how much we need human contact and other people to help us in life. Loss of human contact is clearly a key factor contributing to decreased mental health. There is certainly a correlation between us not being able to see and hug our loved ones and some of our mental healths dropping.
One person said “Socialising with other humans. I miss hugs with my family and friends so much!!”
Are you practicing meditation or any other techniques? This was a really interesting one. Out of the 11 people that participated 4 people said no I do not meditate at all. However 7 of you said you are actively practicing meditation. What is even more interesting is that out of the 7, 4 of you categorised exercise as your form of meditation. Thats over 50% of the 7 who said yes, consider exercise as a form of meditation. 2 out of the 7 also said they use breath work to help them keep calm. And 2 more out of the 7 said they use the App called ‘Headpsace’. I know a lot of people that also use this app who didn’t participate in these questions and they absolutely swear by it. If you are struggling to keep calm, ground yourself and meditate, check it out on the app store and give it a go. What do you have to loose? I downloaded it last night and plan to start using it myself also.
Is there anything you particularly like/enjoy about isolation? The outcome of this question is also a positive thing that isolation is perhaps giving to us all. 1 person liked being able to work less, 1 person was actually enjoying the lockdown and spending time at home, another said they were actually clearing their debts and saving more money and 6 of you all said you are enjoying the fact that isolation is forcing you to appreciate life more. With a lot of you also going as far as saying it is helping you to reflect and apply self care a lot more than you normally would when in ‘normal’ life. Self care is the one thing we are all so guilty of not doing. When we have to go to work, it seems like there are not enough hours in the day to get anything done, let alone take 10 minutes to just breath and look after number 1. Having a lot of spare time on our hands means we can prioritise a lot better. This therefore means we can put ourselves and our own wellbeing first. Whether thats reading a book, learning something new, or just having a long bath and a pamper!
“There seems to be a lot more kindness around”
“I’m really enjoying it, although it’s a horrible situation, i’m loving the time at home”
Do you have a schedule and do you stick to it? Out of the 10 people that answered this question 2 people said they do not have a schedule, 8 people said they do have a schedule however out of the 8 people that do have a schedule 3 of them said although they have a schedule, they sometime find it hard to stick to because it kind of feels like there is loads of time to kill. For example some of their comments are below
“Some days I make a plan but loose motivations and the plan gets longer”
“Yes, I tend to stick to it but if I don’t it’s not like I haven’t got the time to do it tomorrow!”
What this evidence suggests is that we are most certainly creatures of habit and structure. Without a routine or structure more of us than not feel lost, we feel a lack of purpose and direction. With a life structure we feel in control, we feel like we are making a difference to the world and ourselves.
What is your main motivational tool? Well this one really is a mixed bag. Out of the 9 people who answered. 2 people were motivated by money, and trying to hold down their jobs, 1 by listening to music, 1 by taking regular exercise, 2 by talking to friends and using social media for positive communication. Finally 3 of you used the understanding that this is only a temporary moment in time and it won’t last forever. The answer that stuck with me the most was, “Tough question! I try to really feel how it will feel to be free again. It’s a good feeling”
It is interesting how a lot of us use what we perceive to be fear as something to motivate us. The fear of the scenario we are in motivates us to try to think and reach beyond it. I recently started reading a book called ‘The Universe has Your Back’ by Gabrielle Bernstein which is all about how we live off fear more than we realise. Certainly worth a read people !
So in summary, I think the general quarantine feel is a lot of different emotions all mixed together and what we are going through right now is certainly not easy. Nobody said life was easy! But although a lot of you have openly said the lockdown and isolation has affected your mental health in what you maybe perceive to be negative. A lot of you who answered yes to this question are also making positive changes to your lives to help you cope. Whether that be by taking daily exercise or meditating and using breathing to help you. After conducting this little survey I know I certainly feel a lot better about how I feel in isolation, as a lot of your answers are exactly how I have been feeling as well. What we have to remember is we are not in this alone. We are more together and connected now than we ever have been. We are taking time to better ourselves and give us the self care we need and this is in turn then making us realise what is most important in our lives. And for the vast majority of us it is human contact and socialising. This is a key part of our lives, and many of us may not have even realised it was until it was taken away. Loosing something then makes you appreciate it a lot more when you finally get it back.
I hope my short survey has helped some of you, stay strong friends. We can do this!