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Charlotte Linham in Self Isolation – My POV

April 16, 2020

I started lockdown on March 23rd  – this was slightly before the Island’s government imposed formal rule that we had too. We had already started working from home the week before, to minimise our exposure to other people. Schools also closed on the 23rd, which meant I could work from home full time. The weekend prior to this, I’d already had the conversation with my mum about pulling back – I live with my sister, who has type 1 diabetes, and my gran who’s over 70 – so it was important to me that I minimised my exposure where I could.

How I’m coping:

The first few days was honestly the worst – we didn’t have any sort of boundaries or rules laid out, my sister was scared she was going to catch it, and my gran didn’t really understand the rules that were put in place. It felt like all we did was sit and talk about the virus. I stayed in my pyjamas for the first 5 days – in hindsight, this definitely didn’t make me productive or feel better. I felt like I missed going out to work a lot and living and working in the same place started to feel a bit overwhelming. I was checking the news every couple of hours if not more, just for an idea of what was happening around the world. I was going to the gym 4 times a week prior to this, but that stopped completely.

Things have improved so much since then. I started getting up and getting dressed and setting myself times that I was ‘at work’ and times that I wasn’t. We sat down and had a conversation about who uses which rooms and when, and everyone has stuck pretty much to that. We all have time to do things alone, and then we spend some time together. My sister has roped me into a workout program, which although I was not keen, does help me break up my day and I feel better for it.

My birthday is this weekend, and my mum’s is not long after, and I think that will be hard for us both. There are certainly times when I get overwhelmed by the uncertainty of what’s going on – I get stressed that I’m missing out on plans, and don’t know when I could plan things for. When this happens, I create smaller plans like facetiming people, or reading, or baking. I still have my moments of being sad that I can’t see my friends, or being worried about the future, but talking to people about them does really help. I also make a list of things I need to do post lockdown like make a dentist appointment.

Living with 2 people in high-risk categories makes it much easier to see the reason we’re all self-isolating and social distancing. Although it sucks, I’d rather do this to keep them safe than the alternative.

How I’m keeping busy:

Generally, I wake up between half 6 and 7 – my body clock just wakes me up then, so I roll with it. I get up, eat breakfast and get dressed. This is also when I tend to check the news – I found limiting myself to a scroll first thing curbs my urges for the rest of the day. I usually start work at about 8 and work until 4ish. I’m more productive in the mornings, and I find that starting earlier gives me more separation between my working day and my free time. We tend to cook dinner and eat around half 5.

I’m trying to get myself into a bit more of a routine with working out, so me, my sister and my mum all do it together around 2. If it’s nice, we spend as much time as possible outside in the garden. I have regular facetime catchups with my friends in the evenings, and we message a lot as well. I still let myself watch Netflix and scroll through Instagram – those were things I did before, and it’s okay if I still do that. I’m not built to be productive 24/7! I go to bed usually by 10, but there are some nights that doesn’t happen, and that’s fine too. Being in some kind of routine, particularly with sleep, definitely helps me feel better.

I’ve also been doing things I generally wouldn’t – we’ve dyed my sister’s hair pink, played the Wii, moved her room around and we’ve been doing a ridiculous number of handstands. We bake a bit and have plans to make a birthday cake this weekend.

How we’re continuing to work:

Our team managed to put together a remote working service in a matter of days, which is pretty amazing. We can do remote appointments by phone, email or video call. We use Microsoft Teams and the whole team video calls twice a week, which is a good opportunity to get caught up. We also video call and message whenever we need to talk about things. Mostly, it’s been rearranging what we have to do – instead of focusing on sessions in person, we’re creating online resources and posting on social media. I’ve been doing a lot of statistics and research. We’re still thinking forwards, and the virus is something we’re learning to accommodate for.

These times we’re living in are completely unprecedented – very few of us have ever experienced anything like it. It’s important to remember it will pass eventually. In the meantime, focus on improving things in your control to help your mental health. This pandemic will affect all of us differently, so make sure to be kind to people and check in on your loved ones. Reach out if you feel like you need support for your mental health.

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