29 MARCH 2020 /

Reflections on self-isolating

Since returning from a trip to Vietnam 11 days ago, we decided to self-isolate as a precautionary measure - this was before lockdown had been put into place in the UK. Fortunately, both my partner and I are able to work from home and prior to our trip had expected to self-isolate for 14 days upon return so were fairly prepared.

Starting back at work this week and with the introduction of the lockdown on Monday, we have had to quickly adjust to this new lifestyle. I’ve put together a list of a few reflections and resources that have helped me through the first week.

1. Establish a new routine

My morning alarm goes off as usual (well, slightly later) and I start my day with a few new habits; daily journaling & setting intentions, around 30mins of learning and meditation followed by morning exercise. I also am getting dressed to avoid working in pyjamas and ensure I am ready for any video calls.

During the workday I’ve been trying to ensure I get up and move from my workspace regularly to stretch, take a deep breath and give my eyes a break from the screen for 2 minutes and at the end of the day I’ve been ensuring the flat is clean and tidy so the next morning I don’t have to do any extra cleaning before starting work.

2. Use a shutdown ritual to start and end your day

After recently reading Cal Newport’s Deep Work - he mentions the importance of having a shutdown ritual to end your workday. Well, why not start with one too? I recently bought an indoor cycle trainer so have been starting and finishing my workday with a ‘commute’ to allow me to transition between working and relaxing whilst at home.

Cycling twice a day within the same four walls has got boring very quickly so next week I plan to mix it up and start each day with a cycle then end with a home workout or yoga to clear my mind and keep active.

Other ways you can start/finish your workday: read a book, listen to a podcast or even something as simple as decluttering your inbox, making a to-do list and setting up/tidying away your workspace.

3. Check-in with people

Set up some virtual catch-ups with friends, loved ones and neighbours or volunteer to provide help with deliveries or to talk with vulnerable people who need extra support at this time.*

Useful tech for video calls include: WhatApp or Facebook, FaceTime (for Apple users), Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, or why not try the HouseParty app and play some games?

4. Take care of yourself

The most important point here is to take care of yourself. Use this time to do things you enjoy, learn a new skill and remember to be kind to yourself.

I’ve found the following resources relating to mental health incredibly valuable:

  • GitLab have some fantastic tips on remote working and your mental health
  • Rhitrition’s blog is full of evidence-based research and practical tips to manage your stress

Please reach out for help if you are having a tough time. The following links contain further tools, support and advice:

  • Mind provides information to help you cope during coronavirus
  • Samaritans have support and information if you’re worried about your mental health during this time
  • Calm have shared some free resources to use during this time to tend to our mental and emotional wellbeing. If you’ve got the app, Lavender Fields narrated by Stephen Fry is a solid choice if you’re having trouble sleeping!

I hope if you too are able to work and stay at home that you are doing so and that these resources can help you through this time.

To all the key workers out there, including the NHS workers, we appreciate all that you are doing to keep us safe and fight COVID-19. Thank you and take care!

*Register to help within your local community (please note these groups are all within the UK):

  • Currently inundated with signups, GoodSAM have been recruiting NHS volunteers to provide support by either talking over the phone with isolated people, providing transport or running deliveries. Keep your eye on the page for when it reopens again
  • Goto your local council website and sign up for a local volunteer scheme - the page for Liverpool is here
  • Support local food banks by donating food that is needed or making a donation
  • Join a mutual aid group and provide support where you can

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Kerry Parker

Data Scientist with PhD in Physics. Interested in learning, software development and productivity, see more posts on Medium.