How To Cope With Isolation And Set Healthy Boundaries
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If you rewind to 2019, the idea of living in isolation would have seemed crazy. However, now it’s our reality and we need to find different coping mechanisms to help us manage and make the most of our new lifestyle. As this is unlike anything we’ve ever experienced, we asked life coach, Kira Jean, for her tips on how to cope with self-isolation and create boundaries to protect your mental wellbeing.
1. Be Honest with Yourself
With everything that’s going on right now, sometimes being positive feels like the best thing to do, but Kira says, “Be honest about your feelings. When we’re experiencing difficult circumstances we can sometimes think it’s better not to share how we feel and burden other people. However, sharing our feelings gives other people permission to do the same, and it can make us feel more connected to each other even though we’re not physically together.”
2. Prioritize Sleep
Another important habit to maintain during quarantine is sleep. If you’re tired, you’re far more likely to feel anxious and overwhelmed. “Getting enough sleep is very important. When our mind is tired it can cause us to overthink or to not be able to think clearly. Make sure that you are having time to switch off and get enough rest,” Kira says. For more info on how to improve the quality of your sleep, check out 12 healthy sleeping habits from the experts.
3. Find Comfort in Discomfort
“We can all benefit from learning how to create our own sense of comfort and stability in moments where our external world feels very uncomfortable and uncertain. A way to do this is by practicing stillness,” Kira told us. “We live in a world that prizes our ability to act and get things done, so sitting still and doing nothing can be uncomfortable. When practicing stillness, try to be still in your body and mind. Observe your thoughts and any urges to move along with any discomfort that shows up. If you notice you start to move or your thoughts drift off, gently come back to stillness and doing nothing. Sit for 5 minutes at first, slowly building up to ten minutes.”
4. Stay Connected with Others Virtually
For the people who live alone, this time can be particularly difficult. However, Kira says it’s still important to maintain a human connection. “I would recommend sharing your routine with others. Create a Facebook or a WhatsApp group and share a part of your routine together. Perhaps you have your morning coffee together with each other or you exercise together virtually. It doesn’t have to be something newly created, just share the simple, small moments of your day with each other.”
How to Set Healthy Boundaries:
With the COVID-19 crisis progressing every day, it can be hard not to get lost in the lack of structure, and this can definitely take a toll on our mental state. This is why it’s important to set boundaries with yourself and others to feel more in control. Here are Kira’s top tips.
1. Create Boundaries for your News Consumption
“I think it’s completely normal for people to feel like they want to see what’s happening in the world. As we search for understanding during uncertain times we can be drawn towards the need to gather information.” However, Kira also adds “At the same time, this can pose a risk to our wellbeing if it becomes too much. Having healthy boundaries around how and what we consume is essential. A lot of people are already facing restrictions in some way, so rather than adding further restrictions to how and when you consume information, try scheduling when you’re going to check in on updates about the virus. That way you’re not avoiding or repressing your need for information, but making it more purposeful.”
If you’re constantly being bombarded by COVID-19 news in WhatsApp groups on team chats that you’re finding it an unwelcome reminder, you can always consider temporarily muting or leaving the group chat, or ask for people to share less.
Kira suggests one way you can set a boundary on your news consumption: “Perhaps you work throughout the day and make the commitment that when you switch off from work at 6 pm, you tune into the news and you give yourself an opportunity to feel connected to what’s happening in the news and on social media. Instead of scrolling through your newsfeed off and on all day, you tune in with a sense of purpose and a desire to check in to learn or understand what you need to.”
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2. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
“While it’s great to learn from others, I would recommend avoiding looking for solutions and answers in other people. Everyone’s circumstances right now are different from one person to the next, so you need to do what’s best for you. Ignore the overachievers spouting about how this is your chance to do everything you’ve always wanted to do, and ignore those who come along with their doomsday messages. Everyone is having a unique experience through all of this, so take some time to get to know yourself first, and understand what feels energizing, comforting, and supportive for you.
3. Be Kind to Yourself
“Another healthy boundary is to recognize when you are needing to rest and giving yourself a chance to do that. This is not a normal situation, so don’t be too hard on yourself to work or achieve what you normally do.”
4. Use Boundaries to Add Structure to Your Day
“Boundaries are not only for limiting behaviors. Sometimes they’re useful in designing and planning your day in a way that supports you and makes your day flow. For example, if you are having trouble sleeping, you can let your colleagues know that you will be clocking in at 10 am instead of 9 am during this time. Give yourself what you need to be at your best.”
5. Set Boundarie with Your Family
“Setting boundaries with friends or family can be tough, but if you are honest and upfront with them early on, you can create simple boundaries that benefit you and them. You might want to explain that you are trying to focus on keeping your body and mind as healthy as possible during this time, and ask them if they can help you in that.”
6. Set Some Alone Time if You’re Isolating with Others
“For many people who are isolating at the moment, they are not isolating alone. This means there’s not any time to themselves. If that’s you, then I would really recommend prioritizing alone time as much as you can – even if only for 15 minutes,” Kira says.
For more pro tips on how to cope with the COVID-19 crisis, check out our guide on managing stress and anxiety.