Like most Saturday mornings, I was still in my pyjamas while on FaceTime with my parents, chatting about our week and catching up.
I coughed and didn’t think anything of it but then my mum made a light joke and mentioned ‘the virus’. After the call I thought nothing more of it. I went to bed that night and had a very restless sleep, unable to keep cool or stop coughing.
Sunday morning finally came and I rang my parents back and talked through my new symptoms. It was at this point that it hit me that I might actually have ‘the virus’ and the realisation that this meant 7 days of self isolation.
I live alone, so traveling to work, chatting with colleagues, going to the gym and socialising in the evenings is a big part of maintaining a healthy state of mind for me.
So the thought of remaining in my flat, alone, for 7 days felt extremely daunting. However, I want to assure you that it may not be as bad as it might initially seem. There are in fact positives to be found in the situation and ways of helping you cope and maintain good mental health.
Self isolation, for however long, can perhaps feel daunting and overwhelming for anyone. These are normal emotions to feel in what is a very unusual situation.
Even if you are not in self isolation but you are socially distancing or living in a country where you can only leave your house for specific reasons, you may still feel anxious about this and the following tips still remain valid.
While I was in self isolation, my symptoms were at their worst on days three and four, leaving me feeling extremely fatigued and therefore meant I couldn’t follow many of my own tips! Depending on whether you are following these tips while self isolating due to COVID-19 symptoms or simply following government advice and staying at home, take each day as it comes and see what you feel you are up to. Remember to rest when your body is telling you that you need to.
Here are a few tips that helped me when I was in isolation:
1- Keep a routine
I found this to be really important. The first few days that I was in isolation, I felt too weak to really leave my bed. But once I had started to feel a little more energy, I tried to keep to a routine and this allowed for some structure in my days. Keeping to a routine also helped me fit in anything I wanted to achieve that day, meaning by the end of day I didn’t feel like the day had just passed me by without achieving anything. I will mention later some ideas of how to fill your time.
2- Eat well and stay hydrated
Although this may sound obvious, it can easily slip. Ensuring you get nutritious and nourishing meals is a key step of the OMS program as well, so it is really important to maintain. It may be hard to source some ingredients at the minute due to shortages in stores, but it is a great time to challenge ourselves to be resourceful and adaptable and make some delicious meals with what we can find. If you are looking for any inspiration, don’t forget to visit the recipe section of the OMS site.
3- Keep your environment tidy
I really let this slip when I started my week of self isolation due to feeling fatigued. I am allowing myself to not feel guilty for this due to how physically weak I felt, but once I could maintain a tidy environment, things felt a lot less overwhelming. Making your environment feel as relaxing and comfortable as possible is a great way of making you feel more at ease.
4- Try to keep active
Studies show that exercise improves mood and general well-being in people with MS, as well as helping with symptoms. While staying at home, it is important to keep up your active minutes. There are such a variety of ways to achieve this. For my week in self isolation I followed many online yoga lessons. These were just gentle exercises, but meant that I was still doing something. There are many free exercises available on the OMS site, varying in style and adaptable for many different ability levels.
5- Find ways to relax and be creative
For me, this was how I turned my situation into a positive. I had three books that I had been wanting to read for ages, my journal needed updating, I had a piece of artwork I wanted to finish and I had started learning Spanish at the beginning of the year but had already let that slip. My seven days of self isolation were empty and ready to be filled with all these things that I had been putting off.
Now that I am back working (from home), I don’t have as much free time, but I have things to look forward to doing in the evening.
Meditation became a crucial part of my routine, grounding myself regularly to remain relaxed and calm in what is an uneasy time.
6- Take care with news intake
Before COVID-19 dominated the headlines, I already limited my news intake due to it triggering my anxiety. This became even more crucial while in self isolation as it can overwhelm you and feel dominating in your life. Personally I didn’t watch the news before bed and I also limited the amount of time I spent on social media. This can have different effects on everyone, so try and work out what works best for you.
To reassure you, I am feeling so much better and no longer have any of the main symptoms. All of Team OMS are working from home and following government advice to stay at home. Stay safe, but remain positive and remember that the OMS community is there to support you.