Notes on Self-Isolation
My name is Caroline. I’m a Pilates teacher and a Mum to teenage girls.
I was recently standing on my doorstep talking to my Dad, when I got a text. It was from NHS Track and Trace saying please self isolate immediately, you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
As I read the text out I felt shocked. My Dad wisely backed away further down the drive…
I was surprised and not really prepared for the strong emotions this text immediately produced. It was a head spinner.
Being told you have to stay in the house is not “normal” for an adult living in the UK?!
It initially made me feel like I must have done something wrong, and I was being punished.
A similar feeling to the time I had to stand outside the headmaster's office aged 8, for doing badly in a spelling test. It feels pretty harsh, shameful, and a bit confusing as to what I’d done wrong?
My next feeling was fear...have I got COVID-19, will I pass it on to others in the family? Will they have to stay at home as a result of me, impacting school and work? Will they get ill?
I felt totally healthy, but as the worry grew I started feeling dizzy and just not right. I kept checking my temperature every hour and smelling things to make sure I hadn’t got any symptoms?!
I also felt really disappointed. Disappointed that I had to cancel work, meeting a friend for a walk, my mum’s birthday lunch. I was letting others down.
I was embarrassed and annoyed with myself that I wasn't just getting on with it. Why was I struggling? All I had to do was stay at home, rest and keep out of everyone’s way.
If I feel anxious or stressed, exercise helps me. I go outside for a walk, I can process thoughts and it lifts my mood. Not being able to go outside for a long walk was really tough, and had a huge negative impact over the next few days.
I realised I was either going to spiral down and feel worse, or try and take some steps to feel more positive over this lockdown period.
Five steps that helped me:
1. I told someone that I was struggling
I spoke to my husband and a good friend, and just let them know I was finding it tough.
That really helped. When your head is spinning it’s hard to think logically. Someone else simply saying, “You’ve not done anything wrong. In fact by staying indoors you are doing everything right, you’re protecting others”. Talking to others about how I felt made a big difference.
2. I decided I needed to do some daily exercise
Although I couldn't go out for my daily walk, I set times in the day for daily stretching and strength exercises.
There are quite a few apps and websites that give free trials. So I signed up to try out some new fitness classes. It was good to feel like I was learning something new, and keeping my body moving regularly.
3. Connecting with friends and family is really important
It is weird having to isolate and keep away from loved ones, particularly when you’re feeling low.
The girls coming in from school and not giving me a hug was tough. My dad backing down the drive when I told him, rather than coming to give me a hug almost felt like rejection. During the low days, connecting with friends and family, chatting on zoom, made me feel like I wasn’t alone in this.
4. I was intentional about what I watched on TV, and the social media I consumed
The information we consume makes a huge difference to how we feel.
Before I had children, I worked for the news company CNN. We had the latest news playing permanently in the background on big screens. It was a great job, but after a few months of working there, I’d get on the train to come home feeling really low. It suddenly hit me why, it was the negative news constantly playing in the background.
In the time of lockdown, I’m monitoring the amount of time I spend on various social media platforms and news that can make me feel more rubbish. Instead, I’m trying to listen to some great podcasts, and watch more uplifting programmes. Things that make me laugh, or relax and breathe, such as the app Soultime with daily meditations.
5. I tried to be kind to myself, and rest when I needed to
I like to be busy, out and about and feeling like I’m achieving things. This time of isolation made me feel frustrated. To start with I thought I’d use this extra time to hire a skip, clear the attic, and decorate. However, I realised I was tired...emotionally and physically drained. I needed to allow myself to rest, read, and watch netflix some of the time. Accepting that it was ok to slow down a bit, helped.
As we move into this next round of lockdown in the UK, my key reminders are let’s stay in contact with others. Exercise. Be kind to ourselves, and those around us. Remember it’s ok to rest if we need to. Monitor how much time you spend consuming news. Think about something small we can do each day that will take us in the direction of a better tomorrow.
You can find out more about Caroline - and her online pilates classes! - at casfitness.com
Caroline has also recorded a series of short strengthening videos for moments of isolation or lockdown over at beheadstrong.uk - head to the site and check out 'staying strong'