Self isolation and quarantine are words we all recognise. But realistically we never expected to ever have to act upon them. Until now. In words being shared all over the world right now, ‘we are living in unprecedented times’ indeed.
What does self isolation mean to you? To me, it indicates a willingness to accept extreme social responsibility. Even if living alone, we sometimes interact with others. But in today’s climate, that interaction could mean a death notice. As difficult as isolation is going to be, anything less could take peoples’ lives. Let’s get serious. Social interaction will cause deaths in New Zealand. Lets accept isolation in good heart and beat this virus before it takes any stronger hold.
With no intention to belittle the fear and anxiety many face, I’d like to share a lighter side of self isolation. While I have absolutely no experience or deep understanding of the medical consequences of the corona-virus, I can boast of familiarity with self isolation. After all, I am a writer. And, lets face it, the words self isolation and writer definitely go hand in hand. Name me any writer who doesn’t self isolate while they are working.
Perhaps you’ll feel I’m ill equipped to offer advice to someone ordered into self isolation. But beyond the reason (and anxiety accompanying that isolation) I’m a perfect person to share ideas on how to survive without pulling out your hair. I hope I might suggest a time-wasting chore you hadn’t thought of.
I bet you can guess the first idea that springs to mind? Read and Write. I’m a little biased I know, but think of how much time you could kill by writing your life story. The story you often thought would be something to leave to your children, grandchildren and their families yet to come. If that doesn’t turn your crank, what about emails and letters. How long is it since you’ve been in personal contact with everyone in your address book? Some may even respond and further lighten up your days in isolation.
Loneliness might be a considering factor during self isolation. One of my mother’s favourite sayings, especially during her latter years, was ‘How can I be lonely? I have books to read.’ Even if you are not an avid reader, technology has offered us a heap of other time wasting material. Games, movies, television, audio books. We can spend hours on social media platforms during our normal lives, often regretting the time we’ve wasted. That facility still exists if self isolated. Use it and avoid that regret.
Self isolation without the ability to work from home – or a computer – need not blow your mind. Life did exist before technology changed us all. If you cannot find any enjoyment from technology, look outside that box. This might be an ideal time for you to make some changes to your home. Have you wondered about redecorating? Or changing your furniture/rooms around. Now’s a good time for all those once-a-year spring cleaning chores. Do you have photos or family history notes which need organising? I could spend weeks on either of these little tasks and still not have them completed.
Or head outside. Get into your garden. Or make a garden. In the coming months you might appreciate the ability to pull of few leaves from a spinach or silver beet plant for your dinner. If you have no space for a regular vegetable garden, plant some vegies in some pot plant holders. Who knows what the future will bring? I’m heading out to plant some seeds, not something I’ve done since childhood. But all the seedlings were gone from plant shops, so seeds will have to do.
Don’t allow self isolation to generate into boredom. Look around. Ideas abound in every home. Look for them. Handicrafts, music practice, baking/cooking new and unusual recipes, puzzles. I spend hours building jigsaws.
Please do not isolate yourself from the sunshine or fresh air. Self isolation is not intended to mean locking yourself away. Its intended to be distancing yourself from others. Going for a walk or sitting somewhere in the fresh air will do more good for you than hiding inside. But be sure to maintain a safe distance from anyone you chance upon.
Our circumstances are so varied, but I maintain boredom and frustration need not be a part of healthy isolation. I’m sure the internet is alive with ideas for entertaining during enforced isolation if you can’t think of ideas yourself. I haven’t bothered to look because I doubt I would ever get bored. There are so many things around my home I could spend time with.
I do appreciate self isolation for some is much harder to bare. Those who might be contained in one small room are likely to get cabin fever very quickly. My suggestions on ‘entertainment’ will likely do little to detract from their desperation. I apologise to anyone in similar situations if my thoughts appear blase.
Take care and stay safe and well. And in the words of our Prime Minister, be kind!