Over the last few years I have had long periods of time where I was living alone, in a rural community and working on my own. During these times, weeks often passed before I got to catch up with friends or family. The reasons revolved around the business, when things were very tough. During this time, I was living and working from home, in a very isolated community geographically far from my family and friends. I have to say, it was probably one of the roughest times of my life. I did learn a few things though! The main one was how to spend time alone at home. It may sound mad to anyone who has never had to do this before, but it takes discipline and hard work.
With many of us about to begin stretches of time in self isolation, I thought I would share some ideas and tactics to help get you through it. These really worked for me and hopefully you can take something from them.
The first thing is, always make your bed! Sounds like a small thing, but after some time at home, the temptation is to just leave it…. Trust me, it sets you up for the day, having started it right. Going to bed, when the bed isn’t made, will make it feel like you never left it. It’s a mega easy habit to fall into, but trust me, keep making those beds.
Keep your windows open and clean! Especially now with uncertainty lurking just outside, it may feel safer to lock yourself in. Keep the blinds open and allow fresh air into your home as often as possible. It will do wonders.
Flowers. If you can’t get out to buy some, cut yourself some shrubs or blooms from the garden or when out for a walk. I always cut some gorse or even just some fresh greenery. It doesn’t matter what it is, but they will bring a breath of freshness into your space.
A decent routine. I would always aim to be up and showered by 8am at the latest. I tried to work in a 10 minute meditation. I really struggled with this though. On the days I managed to do it, I ALWAYS felt the benefit throughout the rest of the day. Headspace have a free 10 minute guided meditation. Again, I didn’t always manage it, but a half hour yoga session with good old Youtube worked wonders for me too.
Having a set time for lunch too is great. Knowing your day has a bit of structure really helps navigate the times in-between.
One thing at a time. When I worked from home, I would try and get some washing done, cook some food, then do some work, reply to emails, run to the shops, do the dishes….. I ended up getting next to nothing done and the day just slipped away. Once I started focusing on one thing and only one thing, it all changed, Even if it was sitting down to watch tv, I would put my phone away and simply just watch tv. You would be amazed at how fast days pass you by and you have got nothing done, this can lead to a feeling of despondency.
Cooking. I love my grub and when I worked from home I spent a lot of time cooking (to put off doing some actual work). I really loved it! To spend the time to cook a meal from scratch or to make some bread, felt wonderful. Now that I have so little time normally, I crave that time again.
Video calls. These were a life line! While we can’t be in each other’s company during this time, just seeing a friendly face is priceless.
If you can, some time in the hills or a dander along a beach will do wonders! I would be lost without being able to head out to the Mournes or off to a beach. Obviously the idea of self-isolating is to stay away from others, but I think it is safe enough somewhere like this if you observe the advice on social distancing.
I have heard folk in recent times suggesting trying to learn a new skill, musical instrument or pick up a new book. I absolutely love this. While times ahead are no doubt going to be exceptionally hard for all of us, the idea of taking some time out and doing something great with it makes so much sense to me. I am going to get back into playing the bodhran and read as many books as I possibly can.
I hope this helps folks. If you have any other questions about this, please give me a shout.
Peace out and stay safe,
Michael + Teddy