As a freelancer, I work from home, and so I’m somewhat used to spending the vast majority of my day unintentionally self-isolating in the downstairs office. What I wasn’t prepared for was the closure of my biggest outlet, my local climbing gym.
I used to joke with Ed about how some days I felt like a loyal dog, watching the clock and looking out of the window waiting for him to get home so that I’d have someone to talk to and someone to leave the house with. Going climbing 4 times a week was my primary form of exercise, my primary way to socialise and many days would be the only time I spent outside of the 4 walls I call home.
As the severity of the Covid-19 outbreak began to increase it dawned on me that at some stage I would likely need to give up this huge part of my life but I wasn’t prepared for it to come as quickly as it did.
The day I saw that the climbing gym was to close until further notice I felt a sense of panic rise within me. I worried about my physical health, my mental health and the fact that now I would spend even longer confined to the same 4 walls. I felt trapped and my gut reaction was to try and escape, I literally entered a fight or flight mode – it may seem like an overreaction but this blog has always been a place for me to share my truth and so there it is, laid bare for you to judge.
On this occasion, Ed and I resolved to head to the woods, feeling that this would enable us to adhere to the newly announced social distancing protocols, whilst still providing me with a change of scenery and some much needed mental and physical release.
At present, I am grateful that Ed is now working from home and that we can provide each other with companionship throughout the day, and the woods remain our place of solace when we need to stretch our legs and feel the blood pumping through our veins.
I realise that I must not be alone in feeling the way I do and that many other people must also be finding the isolation caused by Covid-19 difficult to deal with, and so here is a list of things that have helped me to get out of my own head when things have gotten tough.
Books have been used as a form of escapism for centuries and their power hasn’t dwindled in the slightest. I’ve long been a fan of Audible and have been listening to audiobooks in the mornings as I make breakfast, or whenever else I have a spare 5 minutes throughout the day. In bed at night, I like to turn to physical books for company and have been reading My Life in Thirty-Seven Therapies by Kay Hutchison, an honest and easy read that is both funny and poignant and follows Kay’s own experiences with 37 different forms of therapy.
I’ve never been more grateful to be able to focus on my work, and have found maintaining the structure of a working day very reassuring in many ways. I also realise how lucky I am as a freelancer to still have some work, with many of my close friends suffering terribly as a result of cancelled jobs and business lockdowns. If you have work to get on with then I highly recommend throwing yourself into it with full force and using it to keep your days busy.
I guess this comes hand in hand with focusing on my work, but I’ve found keeping a routine to be very calming. I like routine and I think that losing climbing shook mine up considerably, so now I’m focusing on building and maintaining a new one.
Finally, although Ed and I have always been very open and honest with one another, we are finding ourselves having far more very open and honest conversations. Talking to one another has become our mental health lifeline and has been a way for the both of us to get worrying thoughts off of our minds and into a more rational, open setting.
What have you found to be helpful in this period of isolation? Let me know in the comments.