I am writing this post on the last day of my Covid-19 self-isolation period. I was supposed to be on a week’s holiday in Norfolk with my husband and my new paddleboard, but here I am confined to my bedroom so that I don’t spread the virus to other members of my family. My paddleboard is still waiting in its box for me to take it out on its maiden voyage. I thought I’d write down my lessons from self isolation.
I realise that I need to put my experience into perspective. Many people have suffered severely during the last 18 months, and I am one of the very lucky ones.
What are my lessons from self isolation?
Let’s look back 9 days. I had done 2 lateral flow tests which were positive, but I still didn’t think the proper PCR test would be positive, for some reason, I guess we never think it will happen to us? I am lucky, I very rarely get a cold, never mind any other illness, so I suppose I just thought my immune system was invincible, especially as I am double vaccinated. I’ve been taking probiotics since the beginning of the pandemic; I am vegan and do tonnes of exercise too. I realise that this virus isn’t fussy who it infects and sometimes it just seems random, so here I am…
It started with the sniffles and I assumed I had a bit of hay fever, which I get for a brief period of a couple of weeks every year. I took 2 antihistamine tablets to no effect, so I started thinking, “Maybe it is Covid-19?” As sniffles are not on the government’s list of 3 symptoms you need in order to get a test, I carried on thinking it was just allergies. I also report my health daily on the Zoe Covid-19 study and their research has shown that a runny nose is one of the symptoms vaccinated people present with at the start of a covid-19 infection. Anyway, I ended up doing a test which came back as positive. As my husband and daughter tested negative, I was confined to my room and, luckily, the garden.
What was I feeling?
At first, I was desperately disappointed that we would have to miss our holiday. I had been looking forward to it for months. Then I felt guilty that I had brought the virus into our house, my youngest daughter had to stay with us instead of going home to Manchester and I felt it again when it transpired that my eldest daughter also had the virus, testing positive after me and ended up having to self-isolate for 17 days in total.
I am the sort of person who goes stir crazy if I can’t get out for a walk every day. The thought of 10 days ahead of me, stuck inside was very daunting.
I then made a conscious decision to accept my fate. At this point I decided that I had to make the best of this enforced rest.
Acceptance is a big part of mindfulness which originated from Buddhism. The Second Noble Truth of Buddhism (of The Four Noble Truths) is that “desire (or craving) is the root of all suffering”. The interpretation for this is usually wanting reality to be anything but what it is, in other words, a lack of acceptance.
Acceptance is not weak; it is really powerful.
There is no better explanation than Jon Kabat-Zinn’s (the creator of mindfulness) in Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the World Through Mindfulness:
“Acceptance doesn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, mean passive resignation. Quite the opposite. It takes a huge amount of fortitude and motivation to accept what is — especially when you don’t like it — and then work wisely and effectively as best you possibly can with the circumstances you find yourself in and with the resources at your disposal, both inner and outer, to mitigate, heal, redirect, and change what you cannot change.” (p.407)
Once I had changed my perspective, things became easier.
Sometimes, whilst I always enjoy my holidays, they are not always restful. “A change is as good as a rest” as they say. Sometimes I come home for a rest afterwards! This week I stopped exercising whilst I was poorly and properly rested. I slowly built up to yin yoga. Yin Yoga was founded on the Taoist theory of yin and yang – opposite concepts that, together, represent balance. The yin poses, are passive and performed while seated or in a reclining position. The poses are held with the muscles fully relaxed, allowing time and gravity to deepen the stretch and target the fascia. The time spent holding these asanas is similar to meditation. I started some core exercises, courtesy of @Seb Fitness and walking round the garden as I felt better. My muscles are no longer tight as they often are.
I wouldn’t say I am a control freak at all – maybe my daughters would disagree?! I wasn’t allowed in the kitchen and so I had to relinquish all the household tasks. My husband sometimes says that I can’t sit still. So, it seemed weird not doing any cooking, washing up or cleaning. I actually think I could get used to being waited on now. So, we will see how things are when we get back to normal.
My guilty pleasure was Gossip Girl. I read and snoozed and meditated. It was like a weird retreat! I am so looking forward to spending some time cuddling my husband, hugging my daughters, going where I want and when, walking in nature, seeing my friends and taking the paddle board for her maiden voyage!
I hope you can find value in my lessons from self isolation.
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