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    • 30 MAR 20
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    Dr. Declan Aherne’s Top 10 Tips for coping with isolation and staying at home

    My top 10 tips on how to cope with isolation and staying at home due to Covid19.

    1. Its important to know that its ok to be on your own.  Isolation in and of itself is of no danger whatsoever.  What is a cause for concern is what construction people put on being in isolation and therefore creating it as something to be afraid of.  There is nothing to be afraid of. Isolation has been part of life for many contemplatives for centuries and can be very good for your mental health and wellbeing if approached with the proper intent.
    2. Many people find it hard to be left alone with themselves and may have spent their lives trying to get away from being with themselves.  These are the people I am most concerned about and to whom I want to offer some hope and guidance.  You will need more support initially in approaching isolation with a more positive frame of mind.  Practicing being still and alone for short periods to begin with, while busying yourself with lots of jobs the rest of the time.  Then gradually increasing your time in silent mindfulness meditation for example.  Over time this can be extended to periods of up to 30 mins twice daily. 
    3. It is important to counter any negative thinking that may brew while you are alone.  Challenging these irrational thoughts, such as ‘ I can’t cope’, from the outset is necessary so that they don’t get a hold on you.  It is important that we acknowledge that this will be a challenging time and that we will all worry to come extent.
    4. Treat isolation as a positive, an opportunity to be availed of.  We will hear so much that is negative at this time, that it is important not to let the negativity drag us down.  There is plenty of positives to take from this crisis, not the last of which is the opportunity to get to know and be with our family, slowing down, and accepting our lot. 
    5. Take control of what is controllable. This is an essential part of coping, to realise that there are plenty of things still within our control that we can do something about.  We can control our lives within the restrictions imposed.  Eating, sleeping and virtual social interaction, jobs to be done etc. are within our control, as is how we think about what is happening. 
    6. To remind ourselves that we are all in this together by being apart is a means of gaining some solidarity within our community.  This sense of belonging is a basic ingredient in our make-up and is to be acknowledged and cherished at this time.  Feeling that we are all part of one big team fighting the enemy, helps us to feel a connection with others as part of a unified defence.
    7. There is great comfort and support to be got from reminding ourselves why we are in isolation, that by ‘doing nothing’ we are making a significant contribution to the national cause.  We all want to feel as if we are doing something constructive to help others as well as ourselves.  We could not be doing a greater service to our fellow citizens and to the fight against covid19 than by remaining at home. 
    8. Have a routine or schedule daily and write up a to-do list. Do things you have been putting off. Trying something new such as reading books, making jigsaws, crosswords, painting, gardening, mindfulness, exercise routine, yoga, relaxation.
    9. Have access to social media and internet to reach out for social contact and keep in touch with friends. Use your phone.  Use social media – but be careful not to get carried away by mass hysteria.  Keep informed but not overwhelmed.
    10. Finally, this crisis is an invitation to grow up, by learning to let go of things we can be over attached to and thought we couldn’t be without.  Discovering that this is possible can be our greatest achievement at this time.

    Dr Declan Aherne,

    Clinical Psychologist, Oakwood, Limerick.

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