People all over the world are stuck in all kinds of weird situations during lockdown that they never expected themselves to be in. Some are with their partners or their families while others are with friends. Some with flatmates that they barely get along with while others are all alone. People are being forced to adjust their lifestyles as they navigate this new way of life without troubling others and also keeping themselves and those around them safe. As we continue being confined to our homes till we flatten the curve and the lockdown is uplifted, it may be a good time to find ways to overcome the side effects of forced isolation.
Do new things
Astronauts who are well versed with isolation and how to deal with situations like this as part of their profession have been giving good advice on how to deal with social isolation. A retired astronaut, Chris Hadfield, 60, who authored the book “An astronaut’s guide to life on earth” feels that this pandemic is influencing group dynamics and feels like he can be of help in getting people to navigate this strange times.
“To be isolated for a long time can be sort of frightening. Because you don’t know what to expect. And whenever I’m frightened I try and really dig into the actual risks, the actual dangers. Become an expert on the thing that is scaring me. And that helps me deal with my natural fear” he says. To face your fears is a challenge but do that with total conviction and the will to overcome anything that life puts in your path, and to be prepared and planned, can give you the strength and confidence to face it and get through it.
Hadfield further said that this is the time for one to master new skills, like playing the guitar, or learning a new language. So instead of feeding into the fear or focusing on negative news and draining your energy, shift your attention to the things that make you feel better and empowered and start using your time to be more creative and productive. Look into what you have always wanted to learn and be grateful that you have now been given time to follow that and make that happen.
Take care of yourself and those around you
Chris also says that the best thing one can do right now is to take care of themselves and their families. “So take care of yourself, take care of your family, take care of your friends, take care of your spaceship”, he asserted, meaning your own body and health. This is by far the most important thing at this moment in time. To take a good hard look at how we have been treating our body and to make changes in your diet or your lifestyle. The importance of exercise cannot be emphasized enough as you continue staying home. Add exercise or yoga into your daily schedule. Even doing something actively for at least a minimum of ten-fifteen minutes a day will go a long way in the long run. It’s also a good time to give up on eating junk food and unhealthy food habits and get yourself to start being mindful of what you put into your body. Start making changes to what you consume. Be it in what you eat or what you watch or read on social media. Remember to be kind to yourself.
Also try to extend this kindness to those around you even if they’re not family. This is a good chance to create life long bonds and deepen the ones you already have. It doesn’t matter that you hardly know your roommate, take this as an opportunity to get to know them better and make life better or easier for them. Learn to respect their space as well as give them company when needed and find fun activities to do when you’re up for it. This will make it easier for everyone who’s stuck together during this pandemic. Make sure you’re watching out for them and take their needs into consideration. A small act of kindness can go a long way.
Set a routine
Nick Hague, an astronaut with NASA has spent several months onboard the International Space Station. He drew parallels between being locked down and being on the space station. He strongly advises setting and sticking to a routine.
“It’s simple stuff. It’s to have a routine, you know, put a schedule together and stick to the schedule, because then everybody inside the house knows what to expect throughout the day. And just having some control and some certainty over how your day is going to play out is a huge psychological boost”, he said.
So this is one of the biggest things you can do for yourself at this time. Set a routine and stick to it. Developing a habit may take anywhere from 21 days to 6 months. So this would be a good time to hold yourself accountable for your habits and create new good ones that can serve you in the coming years and for the rest of your life. Self-discipline is one of the major keys to success and no one who lacks discipline is going to make it big in their life. So it is important to set a realistic routine that you can follow.
Communicate easily and effectively
Hague also emphasizes the need to talk, to express and to communicate and try and understand one’s family members and friends or flatmates.
Here’s what Hague had to say on how not to annoy people who are living with you during a lockdown.
“You know, the people that are closest to us, the family, the loved ones, we know exactly how to annoy them. You know what their buttons are. And so it’s really just trying to understand, you know, everybody is going through this. And so the key is communication. Express how you’re feeling and listen to others, express how they’re feeling and just being able to be open and talk about what everybody’s going through. We’ll let you identify the support that you need and the support that you need to give. And that’s just going to make it so much easier. So talk. Don’t bottle things up”, he said.
So take this time to be better human beings who talk things out and don’t cling on to any toxic habits of annoying others or getting on other people’s nerves. Instead tap into your own love and express that more rather than focusing on things that you don’t like about the other person and taking it out on them. It is important to get through this together without eating each other’s heads off. Be kind, gentle and practice empathy with the people you live with. You are with them at this time for a reason. Learn to adjust and let go of anger or hard feelings and instead cultivate a better way of communicating and being.
Have your own me-time
It is super important to have a time and space carved out for yourself at this time. You can retreat to that place any time things get overwhelming. It can get a little uncomfortable to spend all your time with people around you and at times you need to have a space where you can sit, read, journal, meditate or just do your own thing. You can ask others not to disturb you during this time or have them understand that it is important for you to be alone for some time. You can add this me time to your routine schedule.
Overall try to find ways to alleviate any discomfort or anxiety associated with these strange lockdown times by working on your own mental and emotional health by bonding with family in a healthy way, exercising and making sure that you are eating better. Make self discipline your mantra this lockdown and work on cultivating new skills and finding ways to make things easier for yourself and those around you.