This is What Successful Self-Isolation Realistically Looks Like

Gillian Sisley

And it’s not what you might expect.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

The longer we are in self-isolation, the more I’m hearing the same thing over and over — people feel like they’re failing at this self-isolation thing.

They’re not getting nearly as much done as they expected to.

They’re unmotivated, worried, paralyzed by fear of the unknown— and all they want to be doing is succeeding at self-isolation.

This got me thinking — what does success during self-isolation actually look like?

And I’m not talking the success that our negative inner voices are trying to convince us of. I’m talking realistic, tangible, with-the-times success considering these unprecedented times.

REAL TALK: For anyone who is struggling, or feeling like they’re failing, or wondering if there’s more they should be doing — this is what it looks like to successful, remotely working from home, during a global pandemic:

1. Actively adapting, and taking things day by day.

Things are changing quickly.

The definition of “thriving” through this pandemic is changing just as fast.

A week ago, I was proud of myself when I worked a full workday and then some, and even got some of my work-in-progress novel finished.

This week, I’m proud of myself for getting the minimum of client work done, and I am especially proud of each night I get a well-balanced, healthy dinner on the table.

Expectations must change. Likely on a daily basis. Every new day is different, and we need to be open to changing the rules based on the day’s circumstances.

2. Removing toxic habits or behaviours as they form.

I deleted Facebook off of my phone this morning.

Frankly? I had to. I’ve been spending the last week going down the rabbit hole of endless Facebook content, and it’s only left me feeling like total sh*t.

Now and again, I’d stumble upon irrelevant or funny meme and share in group chats with my friends, but those little instances of humour or enjoy were becoming few and far between.

I was constantly getting lost in endless scrolling on Facebook, and being completely over-stimulated and overloaded with anxiety-inducing content that only made me panic more about my situation.

The moment I deleted it from my phone, I felt a release. Instant relief overwhelmed me. I finally felt like I was FREE.

If there is an app, or a habit, in your life that is consuming you in a negative way — remove it.

Replace it with something healthier or more constructive. I’m putting down my phone for social media use and instead of picking up a book. I feel a lot more balanced and less anxiety-ridden this way.

3. Feeling your feelings.

It has never been wise to bottle up your feelings.

As an optimist, I can appreciate the desire to see the bright side of everything, or actively try to not dwell on the negatives.

But experiencing negative feelings is inevitable in our current reality — and the longer you avoid acknowledging them, the harder they will hit.

Negative or painful feelings will not disappear or go away.

Take a breath a few times a day and identify how you’re feeling. Your feelings are valid. While it is healthy and humbling to recognize that you may be in a more fortunate position than others at this time, it’s also unhealthy to try to devalue the legitimacy of your own feelings and circumstances.

This isn’t a competition — it’s survival. Your current reality and struggles are valid.

Your feelings will come out of you regardless, so take some time each day to stop and check-in with yourself.

Acknowledge your difficult feelings. Recognize they are there, and validate their legitimacy. Categorize what you can and cannot control when it comes to making yourself feel better. For what you can control, make the necessary adjustments.

For what you cannot control, take a deep breath and let it go. It is not your burden to carry.

4. Getting a good night’s sleep — it’s more vital than ever.

The psychological toll of stressing about income security, wondering about the state of the world, worrying about how long it will take for our economy and society recover, and all of those other anxieties we’re all feeling take energy from us.

These extra worries leave us even more exhausted at the end of the day than usual. Meaning we also need more sleep than usual to recover from this additional load of mental exertion.

Our bodies are doing the best they can under the current circumstances, and we need to help our bodies restore themselves rather than sabotaging them.

That means nourishing our bodies with good food, doing even a little bit of exercise and mediation, and sleeping enough so that our bodies can recover.

I live with PTSD and anxiety from past trauma, so my body most days has been used to the extra mental strain associated with just getting through the day.

Normally, I require 8–9 hours of sleep per night to feel properly rested and restored. These days, I need closer to 10 hours. Some nights? Even 11.

I certainly needed 11 hours after I lost my biggest client (75% of my income) and spent the entire day in a panicked state worrying about losing our house months down the road.

Listen to your body. Fuel it with what it needs, as best you can. I’m on Day 12 of self-isolation and today I only just exercised for the first time in weeks.

Which ultimately takes me to my final point:

5. Cut yourself some slack.

Seriously. Do it.

My favourite saying is, “Be gracious with yourself.

On the worst days, it’s the best thing we can say for ourselves.

These words are healing. They’re filled with compassion. They’re stocked full of understanding.

Self-isolation is in no way a vacation. It’s mentally and psychologically tolling.

Something people assumed would fill us with MORE energy is actually draining us far quicker than we can refill.

So don’t beat yourself up about doing the bare minimum. No one is expecting you to thrive right now — the goal is simply to survive.

And frankly, from one functioning, anxiety-ridden human being to another, you should be proud of yourself for doing anything above the definition of survival.

Be proud, because you rolled out of bed.

Be proud, because you put on pants.

Be proud, because you took a healing and restorative moment for yourself.

Be proud, because you got some/any writing or work done.

Be proud, because you did a brief exercise or meditation.

Be proud, because you took a shower.

Be proud, because you took your dog out for a walk.

Be proud, because you turned off the news, or spent less time on social media.

Be proud, because you fed yourself, and the people in your household.

This is what success looks like during pandemic-induced self-isolation.

It is being kind to yourself and practicing grace under these unprecedented, difficult circumstances.

You are doing more than enough. You are doing great. You have every reason to be proud of yourself for what you are doing right now, rather than what you aren’t.

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Online solopreneur. Tea drinker. Committed optimist. I write about trending news, viral Reddit content, and anything else that tickles my fancy.


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