COVID-19 and How to Acclimate to Isolation

COVID-19 is forcing everyone to retreat from each other in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus. Humans are a social, herd-bound creatures. We need each other.

Thankfully social media has stepped forward and allowed a certain level of safe interaction, but this does not meet our human mammalian need for physical comfort. Due to COVID-19, it is not safe for people to be physically close. People outside prison are experiencing a taste of prison’s isolation. The biggest differences being you have internet access, we do not. We have guards that actively oppress us, you don’t. Well, most of you don’t, not in the “paid to enforce draconian rules on you” sense.

With this in mind, I hope I may be able to suggest a few tactics for whiling away the hours. (I mean, those lazy Sunday afternoons with nothing to do are the worst, right??)

I find it important to make an agenda for the day even if everything on that agenda is various forms of goofing off. Here’s mine for today:

7:00 am get TP and go to pill line
7:15 am go back to bed
10:00 am get up and eat a ramen soup
10:30 am write emails, then write blog posts
12:01 pm lunch
12:30 pm yoga
1:00 pm shower
1:30 pm do typing for other people
2:30 pm go outside for fresh air and walking
3:30 pm play magic the gathering with cellie
5:00 pm dinner
5:30 pm type for others
7:00 pm watch TV and/or play Magic the Gathering with cellie
10:00 pm read
12:01 am sleep

I spend most of the day accomplishing nothing, but it gives me a sense of accomplishment to check each thing off my agenda as I “accomplish” them

Next up, exercise. It doesn’t have to be much. All I’m doing is a little yoga (two sun salutations and a hand full of balancing poses) and some walking. There’s no need to work up a sweat or any such nonsense. It’d be good to hit your target heart rate for 20 minutes or so, but not necessary. This exercising has more to do with mental health needs than physical health. Of course, I do that too, just not every day.

Connecting with others is vital. Most of my day is spent emailing (the way I connect with the outside world) or playing a card game with my cellie. Normally, I would have more time scheduled for spending time with other people, but the whole “social distancing” thing has put a stop to hanging out with people outside the cell.

I also still pay the bills as best I can. By typing stuff for others I get paid in coffee, which I don’t drink. Then I turn that coffee into soup, my usual breakfast of late. So healthy, I know.

Picking what activities you’re going to fill time with is trickier than it seems. Puzzles seem like a good idea at first, but the have little to no replay-ability. And hanging your hat on only one activity is a recipe for disaster. Doesn’t matter how much you love something, if it’s the only thing your doing one of two things will happen. You’ll get tired of it or you’ll become neurotically obsessed with it. Neither are a good thing.

The activities you choose need to:
+ Have enough variation to it feels fresh each time you engage with it.
+ Be something you can engage with others about/through
+ Be something you enjoy (as opposed to something you’ve been told you should enjoy)
+ Take up a minimum of an hour and a half each time you do it. The bigger chunks of time taken up, the better.

One of the many reasons I like nerd-games so much, they are usually designed with accommodations for germaphobes, which means they can be played with 2 meters (6 feet) of distance between players. They are quite complex and eat up a lot of time.

I’ll leave you with this last piece of advice. Self care is just as important when you’re stuck doing nothing as when you’re in the middle of chaos. I classify self-care based on if it’s “still” or “moving” and if it’s “solitary” or “social.” Do you’re best to get a mixture of each. Social self-care activities are a bit of a challenge with the whole social distancing thing.

Do the best you can.

Stay healthy.

Stay safe.

Be blessed.

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