Disclaimer – this in no way behaves as a substitute for seeking professional mental health support. Linked at the end of this blog are a few mental health services including those offered by LSE. You do not have to go through this lockdown alone.
Beyond the context of COVID-19 the image that comes into mind when I think of the word ‘isolation’ is of a person, dressed in their pyjamas, in a dull lit room staring out of the window at a very bleak London landscape. Our years in the social world has taught us to associate certain images and emotions with words. So, it is only natural for these emotions to make an appearance and for us to act according to these images. But it becomes overwhelmingly unhealthy to live in cycles of low moods. How then can we alter these learnt reactions so that we can reshape ‘isolation’ to fit the healthy emotions and realities that we want to live in?
Without getting too technical, when the DNA of a foreign virus is inserted into our bodies, our cells observe the genetic make-up of it and create weapons specifically targeted to tackle that foreign cell. The next time your body is faced with anything with this genetic make-up it’s prepared to fight it. Here I have explained the process of a vaccination and how it helps us to get better. We can follow the same process mentally to manage the low moods and feelings of anxiety that invade our headspace.
Identify the emotions (I like to write it down in a journal)
Personally for me what works is mapping out exactly what I feel and what makes me feel like that. For instance, I would usually feel bouts of guilt at the beginning of lockdown. I realised it was because I was doing less work than usual as being at home made me feel less inclined to studying.
Create your weapons
As odd as it sounds we need to create tools that will help us to mitigate these unhealthy emotions. For me, my tool was creating a workspace that was segregated from my relaxation space to help me get more work done. I bought a new desk and made my workspace aesthetically pleasing. That helped me to get more work done, which in turn helped reduce these low moods.
Know your triggers
It’s not as black and white, and the solution cannot be captured in two steps because human emotions are so much more complex and they’ll find loopholes so that they can exist. When I was finally getting some work done at my new workspace, I would tell myself I have done enough to deserve a break. But then I’d find myself endlessly scrolling through TikTok – giving way to that same emotion. I knew my phone was a trigger. So, I use the feature on my phone that limits how much time I spend on an app.
See, when we are vaccinated it isn’t just one cell in our body that does the job. It’s a team. Talk to your support network and chances are someone is going through the same thing. Discussing techniques and working on them together is such a refreshing way to get through these feelings. It also removes that element of loneliness associated with isolation.
Again, I must stress that these are steps that have helped me and may not always work for everyone. The last step I feel is vitally important – because it opens up this four-fold methodology and allows people who know who you are, and how you work, to offer solutions. This is a very unique time and is undeniably difficult to adjust to. With that said I hope that everyone is well, safe, and trying their best to remain positive.
Here are some mental health services you can check out if you need any support: