How To Cope With Social Isolation – Let It MAKE You & Not BREAK You
I woke up this morning wanting to write a different kind of blog today. Rather than an educational blog based on research, I wanted to just type, straight from the heart and from a place of self-isolation. This is the first time in history, well in our generation, that we are all touched by a great event that has changed all of our lives, one way or another. How to cope with social isolation is not obvious at times, and we can end up in a really unhealthy state of mind.
I wanted to share with you ladies some of my personal life, my emotions and my daily habits during this difficult time, hoping to connect with those of you who may feel alone. At the same time, I wanted to provide some health tips to help with our current self-isolated living situation.
The Same Cause But Very Different Experiences
Undoubtedly so, we are all feeling a bunch of emotions right now with all this uncertainty of the virus. We feel restricted in our movements, our liberty, our finances, our relationships, our careers, our food choices, and our social interactions.
Some of you are parents, and I can not even imagine the extra pressure and energy it takes to ensure that your children are eating right, getting exercise, staying entertained and getting home-schooled. And let us be real ladies – we love our men no doubt. But are we really accustomed to being restricted in the same living quarters 24/7 with no end in sight? And when is YOU time, away from all the noise and responsibility?
On the other end of the spectrum, some of you ladies are single, and although you are probably used to living alone, I am sure your lives were filled with activities, dates, hobbies, family gatherings and lots of freedom to do what you wanted, when you wanted. Are you feeling completely tied down and feeling like you have too much time alone?
Although we are all being touched globally by the same pandemic, the impact it has on our life varies, depending on our social environments and our mind-set.
Mind-Set Can Make All The Difference
Mental health is huge during this time and it is only normal that we may feel more irritable, stressed, hopeless, sad and impatient. But you are not alone. Please trust me. I can say for myself, I have been experiencing very mixed emotions with the situation and some days are easier than others. I would like to share a personal experience, to explain how mind-set plays a huge role and how I am personally being intentional each day, to view my current situation from a more positive stand-point.
Ask Yourself WHAT & HOW Vs WHY
These pictures I have shared on this blog are all personal ones and the last two, that I took myself just a few months ago. My dream since I can remember, was to take a year off and travel the world. But the responsible person in me always put school and career first. Once I was is my mid-30s, I decided I needed to fulfill this dream and that timing was crucial because my husband and I were starting to think of having a family.
Three years of planning for this big dream, we left on September 1, 2019, and were only supposed to come back on August 31, 2020. Of course due to the crisis, we returned to Canada in mid-March only having completed half of our trip. I was angry, sad and frustrated. I could not understand WHY this happened to ME. That FINALLY, I was living my dream and just like that it was over. I knew that traveling for months at a time would not be a possibility again in the future – a one shot deal.
First of all, before judging me, I know how silly and selfish this sounds. You must be thinking that I should be able to realize what I was blessed with to even have traveled 13 countries in 6 months. I was also back home healthy and safe and unlike many people, I do not have to be financially concerned because we had saved enough money for 1 year of traveling.
You are all right for thinking that. And I am very happy that I started to refocus my mindset. The first thing I needed to do was to stop asking WHY this happened. Instead, I needed to ask WHAT was I supposed to do with this opportunity and HOW was I supposed to grow and change from it. This makes all the difference in the world ladies.
I decided that there were many WHATS and HOWS that I could accomplish during this self-isolation period. To name a couple, I decided that for my WHAT, I was to continue learning Spanish (I had started to learn while traveling) and to start an online blog to reach out to you women reading this right now. I never would have found time to do this if I was working full time or even while traveling. So now I can see self-isolation as an OPPORTUNITY.
To answer the question of HOW, can be more difficult because you have to dig deep on some of your weaknesses. For me, it is my personal struggle to not worry, to cause internal stress on myself and to show more faith in God. So I take many moments of the day to just breath, say thank you and be grateful for my day and not worry about tomorrow.
My Typical Self Isolation Day
Starting my day with a prayer is not new, but I am more intentional and less time pressured with my prayer. I do not have to jump out of bed to rush to get ready for work. So I begin with listening to a motivational talk on a YouTube channel called “Above Inspiration”. These 5 to 10 min talks are filled with important lessons and reminders. This guides me into a deeper personal prayer of my own.
I am one of those who can not function without my coffee. I wish I could enjoy my coffee black so it would be healthier, but you have to pick your battles. As you can see, I sweeten my coffee with creamer. Some may say this is too fatty but in my opinion, I believe in an overall balance.
I never buy sweet or salty things at home, and therefore only eat those in a social events like a birthday. So I will not give up all the things I love and having a sweet daily coffee really starts my day off right. And confession: I sometimes have 2 of them in one day!
Another option? What about a latte? I brew my expresso and in a blender. I add almond milk, the coffee and a tsp of coconut oil….YUM!! It comes out frothy and cocunut oil is great for you. It is a healthy fat that is not stored by the body and utilized immediately by your body for energy!
I personally prefer training before eating breakfast, especially when it is a high intensity training. Everyone is different; some feel too weak to train without food.
In my regular life routine, I trained at 530 am before work so eating breakfast before 530 would just make me feel nauseous. Bodies adapt easily to routine and my routine had been like that for many years. In fact, I used to train 5-6x per week until we left for our 1 year of traveling. One of my goals during traveling was becoming more flexible with the quantity and quality of my training and worrying less about the consequences of skipping workouts.
It is great to be committed to exercise but when it consumes your mind, and comes before all other priorities, this can become emotionally and mentally taxing.
Surprisingly while traveling for 6 months, I only went to a gym 2x per week and did some workouts in our Airbnb when I had enough space. We did walk extensively each day. But I also ate way more food and much unhealthier than I usually do.
Being out of your COMFORT ZONE can be very challenging and stress-evoking. But change is good so take this time as an opportunity.
So I am now enjoying home workouts more and more and creating the workouts is very fun. I have some basic equipment like bands, a TRX, a yoga mat and one set of dumbbells. Other than these, I have been using full body weight, stairs, a chair and a tool box to add some variety and cardio.
There are so many free home workout videos on line and even phone apps that have a very small monthly fee to have unlimited home workouts.
But what I am happy about is that although I am moving less than when I was traveling, I am not panicked that I am not burning as many calories.
Remember weight maintenance 80% diet and 20% exercise. So even if you feel limited, you have full control on your health during this time.
I am alternating my days with a full body high interval workout, an outdoor run and STRETCHING. I emphasize stretching because we under-estimate its value. When I was at the gym every morning, my goal was to sweat, get stronger and burn calories. I never left any time at the end of my workout to stretch. But without stretching and recovery, you will stop seeing results.
I choose to be blind to this because I wanted to just keep pushing myself harder. I am very lucky I have never been injured due to muscle fatigue.
So during self-isolation, I no longer sweat each day. Every other day is dedicated to 45min to 1 hour of stretching. I started with following Youtube Yoga videos but quickly decided to listen to what my body needed.
I stretch and breath on my own, getting into poses that I know I need. But to get yourself started, follow a video. I sometimes know without a video it is easy to get distracted so do what it takes do just get started. Once you see how good you actually feel, that internal motivation to do it will get stronger. I play some light music in the background to disconnect from my surroundings.
This may sound obvious but I know I am guilty of staying in my pajamas or jogging pants all day at the beginning of this self-isolation. I mean why get ready for anything or anyone?
But it is amazing what “feeling put-together” does on your psyche. Take a shower and put on clean clothes. Put on some make-up if you usually do. Nothing wrong with “getting ready” for your day ahead.
This changes every day and it is good to get some variety. Today after my workout, I had a my favorite oatmeal dish where I add my favorite high quality vanilla protein powder and cottage cheese. Yes cottage cheese!
Spanish Review, Blog Training & Research
I have chosen these two goals and learning opportunities while on isolation. Give yourself a goal; even if they are tiny goals for each week. There are endless opportunities out there with the internet at our fingertips.
And you do not need money. There are so many educational videos on line that are free. You can even choose to read more, or organize photos that you have never had the time to do. Anything that will make YOU feel accomplished.
I make them simple and easy. I am a huge fan of eggs. This is a delicious omelet with mostly egg whites, some vegetable and a can of spicy Thai tuna. It was delicious and tasty with the gluten free brown rice wafers and some avocado.
Other than socializing with who you live with, you should take the time to speak with other important people in your life.
On April 7, 2020, it was my 2 year wedding anniversary. I had a little unfortunate shift in my mindset that day, because my PLAN to be in Spain during our anniversary failed to come true. Well luckily for socializing on today’s most advanced video calling applications, my wonderful family organized a group call on Zoom. My sister-in-laws were all dressed up with a dress and makeup and they each had a glass of campaign to wish us all the best.
I mean how lucky are we to be able to still be that close with family at a distance? Celebrate someone’s birthday on video. It will really boost moral!
Take the time to try different recipes, or to get your diet back on track if you felt that you were not before self-isolation.
I typically each a large portion of roasted vegetable, avocado and either chicken or fish. I do eat beef 1-2x a week as well. Have a balanced meal with protein, carbohydrates and fat is key:)
Netflix & Wine
I enjoy shutting down my mind, thoughts and disconnect from emails, social media and phone calls before going to bed. Watching a movie really allows me to “escape” helping me fall asleep quicker and sleep deeper.
I LOVE red wine. This is another weakness that I will not give up. I only have a glass per night and lots of research shows that red one in a small daily quantity has lots of benefits.
What is YOUR What & How?
It is normal to be concerned about what is going on. But do not worry. You have control over your concern but worry controls you. Let that worry go.
Do things that you never had time to do. The world is still at our fingertips with technology today.
The unknown is scary but you will end up where you need to be. Let life lead you.
I ask you right now to think and answer: WHAT should I do with this time and HOW should I change. This is the best opportunity to re-assess, re-evaluate and make changes that you have been avoiding or never realized were needed. It is important to take care of yourself as well during this time.
I hope you guys enjoyed this blog. I hope this helps you change your mind-set and to view this time as an opportunity. Would love to hear what are you WHATS and HOWS. Do share below if you feel comfortable doing so:)