By Deandra Lalonde

Originally posted on Chateau Chemo.

A note from the KWL team: We hope everyone is staying safe during this time of unknowns and increasing isolation. We wanted to share this post from Kobo’s Canadian Marketing Specialist, Deandra Lalonde, who has become an expert in social distancing these past two years due to illness. She’s been an inspiration to the KWL team with a constant sunny demeanour and endless list of book recommendations. As writers, you’re all likely used to working in a relatively isolated environment but for those that are new to it, or would like just a refresher, here is Deandra’s advice.

First of all, if you have been practicing social distancing despite being young and healthy – THANK YOU. I am the type of person you are doing it for, and to everyone I’ve seen making those tough decisions to cancel events and trips, stay in, and isolate yourselves, I sincerely appreciate it.

(Side-note: as someone who was supposed to see Hamilton tomorrow night, I feel your frustration, sadness, and anger. But it’s the right, smart, and best thing for absolutely everyone).

I thought I’d dedicate a post to some tips to make social distancing and self-isolating a little bit easier. As someone who had to stay in the hospital, couldn’t leave my floor (or even floor section), was only allowed a few visitors, and wasn’t working for a month, and, further, as someone who has self-isolated specifically not to get sick for the past two years since leaving the hospital, I figured I could offer some advice.

As a note – I do not have kids, which obviously gives many an added challenge in these times. I’m sorry I can’t help there, because I can’t imagine having to juggle watching little (or big) ones on top of managing these ever-changing, difficult times.

If you’re at home, that’s a great place to be. Home is cozy and you have all your creature comforts and you can not wear any clothes if you feel like it.

The obvious ways to pass the time:

  • Read!
  • Watch TV
  • Watch movies
  • Play board games
  • Play video games

When I was in the hospital, I had a pretty strict routine (mostly because hospitals give that to you with scheduled meals, meds, checkups, etc.) Lights were out by 10-11, and you were woken up at 5 (lol, no thanks) and again at 7-8.

With that in mind, I found I ended up making my own routines around this. Many are working from home, so that adds in the routine for the day, but at night you can try to make new routines around not going out. Here are some ideas for that:

  • Make dinner
  • Do online yoga/meditation
  • Watch something (light and non-stressful, preferably)
  • Do a puzzle instead of scrolling and refreshing on your phone – either physical or download a puzzle app – that’s what I used in the hospital and I found it to be a great wind-down activity before bed
  • Do other games on your tablet/phone – soduku, crosswords, etc.
  • Online courses – learn something new!
  • Start knitting/crafting projects you’ve been meaning to try
  • Journal – I found journaling and tracking things helped me feel more in control in a situation that was mostly out of my control
  • Clean – including a wipe down of heavily-touched surfaces
  • Bake something
  • Take a long, relaxing, phone-free bath – light some candles, pour some wine or brew some tea, and bring a book
  • Go for a walk (this is assuming you are not quarantined, and just social distancing – keep your distance from others while out and about, but if you are able to get fresh air I think you should. This could of course change as the situation is changing frequently and rapidly, so if it does, certainly don’t take this advice over medical/professional advice)
  • If not a walk – move your body! Dance in the kitchen, do 20 jumping jacks, just move that body a little bit, each and every day

Those are just a few ideas. Really puzzles helped give me something to do, and I could easily pass a couple hours working on one puzzle on my iPad while watching something, (and I wasn’t then falling into a google spiral).

Personally during these particular times, a few things I’m trying to do is only check the news/social media a couple dedicated times a day, so I can stay informed while also not spiralling into anxiety. This is a challenge and something I am continually working on, but let me say that it really helps when I’m able to put my phone down and just read or focus on something else.

Marco Polo app! This app has been incredibly helpful in not making me feel isolated the last year or so. It’s a very low pressure way to send video messages back and forth with your friends. I have a group I talk to on there and seeing their faces and hearing their voices (rather than just reading text) is incredibly comforting and lovely.

Another great way to stay in touch is Slack. A common workplace communication tool, it’s also been an app my friends have used over the past couple years and has made me feel part of a group on my loneliest days. We also have certain fun challenge channels, etc. that can add a bit of extra excitement.

Off the top of my head, those are the best ways I have passed my time over the past couple years. It is of course an adjustment, but take advantage of this time to catch up with loved ones on the phone, to relax, and to catch up on some things you’ve been meaning to get to but have been too busy to do.

The one thing with this is that with most people practicing social distancing, you’re less likely to experience any fear of missing out, which is a tough thing mentally when you are the only one who can’t go out and do things. So that might help some a little bit, at the very least.

And a few work from home tips, should you need them:

  • Have a separate work space (if you are able) – even just a desk/table/place that isn’t your bed. If you can have a dedicated work space it will make it feel like a change when you get up in the morning.
  • Get changed – I don’t mean into work clothes, it can be from one pair of PJs to another for all I care, but just changing, preferably showering in there, it will help get you into a fresh mindset for the day.
  • Same note from above – move your body in any way you are able. If you can, get up and stretch, go for a walk, dance for five minutes, do some jumping jacks, I think once an hour if you are able, but at least a few times a day.
  • Set your hours with a lunch and coffee breaks. It is easy to overwork when you WFH every day. You lose track of time, you get caught up in something, and with no commute home to make it’s easy to work over time. And once in a while this isn’t bad, but everyone is already maxed out on their stress, so you do need to unwind.
  • Turn on your camera when on a video call; it’s another way to feel less isolated.

These are stressful times, and things are changing very quickly. But the best we can do right now is stay isolated, wash our hands, and stay as calm as possible. Put down your phone and pick up a book and your brain will thank you. And stay inside and I will thank you (from a distance).

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