4 ways to beat the isolation blues

Over one year into the pandemic – and in the midst of an unsettling third wave in Nova Scotia –we’re facing yet another extended period of staying home whenever possible and sticking to our household bubble.

We know what it involves, but that doesn’t make it any easier. With school closures, social distancing and working from home all back in the picture, daily routines might be a faded memory. Many people are stressed, sleep deprived and unsure about the future.

But there are practical things you can do to lift your mood and help make the time more enjoyable, whether you’re on your own or with your family members.

Take it outside
With summer almost here, it’s time to lean in to spending more time outside. If you have a deck, front porch or backyard space, spruce it up with some potted flowers or herbs. Give your child their own container and help them plant a mini garden.

If you’re working from home, move your workspace outside on sunny, warm days. The fresh air and Vitamin D will boost your mood and give you more energy. Better yet – instead of plunking down in front of your screen for every virtual meeting, patch in with your phone and head out for a walk in your neighbourhood.

Think of creative ways your kids can interact with others – from a safe distance – in their neighbourhood. Help them create artwork or hand-painted rocks that they can hide for friends and neighbours, for example. It will help them stay connected with their friends while in-person visits are off limits. Some neighbourhoods are organizing things like free art kits or socially distanced scavenger hunts – check out community Facebook groups in your area for ideas.

Get active – use what you’ve got
Spending all day at home, especially with children, can put a strain on everyone. It can seem impossible to keep up with work and family responsibilities. And with screen time soaring for kids and adults alike, it can be hard to unwind and get a good night’s sleep.

Getting more movement into your day can help everyone burn off energy and boost your mood. Now is not the time to go shopping, so look at what you’ve already got in your house. Dig through your storage area or shed for hidden gems: baseball gloves, frisbees, badminton racquets, soccer balls. (Bonus: you’ll probably find board games and cards to have on hand for rainy days.)

Carve out time each day and head to the park or your backyard and have fun breaking a sweat. Pump up the tires of an old bike and head out with the kids for a quick ride in your community. You’ll see everything in a new light and get a great workout to boot.

Write a letter
If your eyes are twitching from spending so much time staring at screens, communicating by texts and video calls might feel exhausting. It might be time to change how you stay in touch with friends and loved ones who are out of reach.

Letter writing has been making a comeback during the pandemic. For many people, it’s a more personal way of connecting with others – a chance to slow down, be attentive and reflective, and be more engaged than writing an email. And nothing beats receiving a handwritten note – and maybe some kids’ art – in the mail.

Canada Post has embraced this trend, giving out a free postcard to every Canadian household, and is even sharing letter-writing tips.

Focus on the good
Whenever you can, try to notice the good things in your life, however small they might be. Start a gratitude journal and write down (or type into an app) the things you’re grateful for. Be concrete and precise and commit to writing daily or weekly to get the most out of it.

This can help you become more mindful – focused on how you’re feeling in the moment – and less focused on your worries or fears that are out of your control. It can help you feel calmer, reduce stress and increase your enjoyment of life. Reflecting on the good things in your life can also help prepare you to deal with the difficulties that can crop up unexpectedly.

Remember, it’s OK to be not OK. If you’re having trouble coping during the pandemic, you don’t need to face it alone. Find information and mental health supports in Nova Scotia at novascotia.ca/mental-health.

What are you doing to beat the isolation blues? Drop us a line in the comment section below.

Nova Scotia quick links

Getting vaccinated against COVID-19
List of COVID-19 exposures in Nova Scotia
Getting tested for COVID-19
Public Health mobile testing unit locations
Rapid testing locations
Self-isolating guidelines
Mental health and well-being

Nova Scotia COVID-19 resources
Download the free COVID Alert app

Comments

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Submitted By: Brake Linda

Just a quick question about the Covid alert app. Is the app widely used? I have had it on my phone since it was available. Not that I want anything to show up on it, but I often wonder if anyone ever posts their status on it. I understand it is by the honour system and I of little faith often wonder. Both my husband and myself are senior of 70 years old and we are trying to stay safe.

Submitted By: Doctors Nova Scotia

Thanks for your question. The use of the app hasn’t been as large as the federal government had hoped. But it has still been able to alert people about being exposed to the virus, even before they have been contacted by Public Health. For that reason, it is worth downloading and using the app. It does not collect or store your personal information. Anything you can do to learn about a potential exposure to COVID-19 is a good thing.