In Isolation and Anxious? -- Join Our MTtalk » Mind Tools Blog
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In Isolation and Anxious? — Join Our MTtalk

March 24, 2020

Please Join Us!

What: #MTtalk

Where: Twitter

When: March 27, 1 p.m. EDT (5 p.m. GMT; 10:30 p.m. IST)

Host: @Mind_Tools

About This Week’s Chat: In Isolation and Anxious?

“Other people complicate our lives, but without them life would be unbearably desolate. None of us can be truly human in isolation.”

Harold Kushner, U.S. author and rabbi (1935- )

We often think that bad things only happen to other people. We forget that to everybody else, we are the “other people.”

Now, however, we are all “other people” in the midst of a terrible global crisis: the COVID-19 pandemic.

Anxiety: an Unwelcome Guest

As the pandemic walked in through our doors, other things walked out.

Gone are our face-to-face meetings with colleagues, watercooler chats and lunch time breaks in the local coffee shops. Many of us now have constant companion that never becomes a friend: anxiety.

It’s a feeling I’m all too familiar with. Anxiety became an every day emotion after I experienced a traumatic incident a few years ago.

It was hard to describe the feeling, even to family and friends — especially the ones who thought I should just “man up and deal with it.” However, I did eventually find the words to explain how I felt.

I described it as constantly expecting bad news, with an accompanying hollow feeling in the pit of my stomach. At other times, it was a persistent fear or dread of some unknown terror.

It was like having a negative and pessimistic radio station playing in my head all the time, making it a catastrophe if I couldn’t find immediate answers to any problems or situations.

Isolation and Anxiety: a Difficult Duo

Over time, I realized that I was most vulnerable when I was alone or felt isolated.

There are many factors that can contribute to feeling isolated. Being separated from other people, and/or from your normal environment (such as work). And not having the type or frequency of human interaction you wish to have plays a major role.

In my case, having gone through a traumatic experience that others didn’t understand, feelings of sadness and distress were also important factors.

Of course, a lack of support can also cause you to feel isolated, as can a history of abuse and dealing with a major illness.

What Are the Upsides of Isolation?

When I spoke to one of my cousins recently, she told me how glad she was to be working from home for a few weeks, because it meant that she wouldn’t be making her daily commute.

That means she doesn’t have to spend 90 minutes on the road in the morning and again in the afternoon. She can get more sleep, and is also happy to avoid the stress of driving on busy roads, thronged with rude road users.

Children in the Mix

Many parents also have to look after children who aren’t allowed to go to school during the pandemic.

A piece of advice that sounded sensible to me, is to give them an activity that will keep them busy for 30 minutes, while you do a 30-minute chunk of work – and repeat.

Don’t compare yourself with others, and don’t feel that you have to cover all the schoolwork they would have done. You only have so many hours in a day, especially if you have to take care of your own work, too.

Use this time to create more connection with your children and be sure to do fun things, too. How about engaging in simple activities that cost nothing? Imagine your child one day saying to you, “Remember that time when we had to stay at home and we spotted a cloud that looked like an elephant? I’ll never forget that day.”

More Ideas for Coping With Isolation

How about catching up with friends via video call? Many people are in the same situation, and would no doubt appreciate a chat.

You can also clean out a cupboard or rearrange the bookshelf that you’ve been meaning to do for ages.

Write letters via email and tell people how much you appreciate them. Teach your dog a trick, read a new book and keep a journal, it’s good therapy. Teach yourself a new trick! How about signing up for that online language course you’ve never quite got around to?

Slow down and enjoy the things you don’t normally have time for like strolling through your garden or sitting still and listening to the birds.

And, for the shy ones among us who cringe when people say you must dance like no-one is watching… now is a great time to do that!

Isolated and Anxious

Our #MTtalk Twitter chat this week will focus on how it feels to be anxious and isolated, and what we can do to make it better.

In our Twitter poll, we asked what is most likely to make people feel isolated. More than 40 percent voted for being physically alone. The runner up, at twenty-seven percent was overusing social media or electronic devices. See all the options and results, here.

We’d love you to participate in the chat, and the following questions may spark some thoughts in preparation for it:

  • Why do people hide their anxiety?
  • What anxieties tend to accompany/follow isolation?
  • Do you have to be physically alone to feel isolated? Please explain.
  • How might you use this time with social distancing and self-isolating constructively?
  • What can we do to stay socially connected while practicing social distancing?
  • What will you do differently following this Twitter chat, to ease your or someone else’s isolation or anxiety?

Resources

To help you prepare for the chat, we’ve compiled a list of resources for you to browse. (Some resources may be available only to Mind Tools Club members.)

Eight Ways to Cope When You’re a Team of One

How to Keep Calm in a Crisis

Working in a Virtual Team

Dealing With Anxiety

Physical Relaxation Techniques

Coping With Change

Cognitive Restructuring

Rest, Relaxation and Sleep

Managing Your Boundaries

Meditation for Stress Management

How to Join

Follow us on Twitter to make sure you don’t miss out on any of the action this Friday! We’ll be tweeting out 10 questions during our hour-long chat.

To participate in the chat, type #MTtalk in the Twitter search function. Then, click on “All Tweets” and you’ll be able to follow the live chat feed. You can join the chat by using the hashtag #MTtalk in your responses.

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