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6 Ways Not to Let Isolation Get You Down

May 6, 2020 | by Ann Goldberg

Lockdown is no picnic, but there are simple things everyone can do to keep their spirits up.

As someone in the high-risk category due to age, recent illness and surgery, overnight I went from being an independent, active senior who was delighted to be cancer-free, to being a government designated ‘vulnerable’ – aka ‘old-sickie’ – who needs to be locked away for her own good and can't leave the house under any circumstances.

It wasn’t easy. My brain may have accepted that it was for my good, but my emotions found the whole thing very difficult. I'm fortunate to have a husband to share the situation with, children who were happy to help us and a computer to order online. Not everyone is so lucky.

Here's what I'm doing to keep my spirits up.

1. Exercising

Despite being a couch potato, I try to take a short walk every day. And I am doing something I’ve never done before: I'm taking online aerobics classes. Nothing madly strenuous – I Googled ‘exercises for the over-fifties’ and picked two – one a low impact aerobics to keep my heartbeat going strong and another to exercise parts of my body I barely remember existed.

The result has been amazing – my blood pressure is down and I feel much better. I definitely hope to keep this up after the crisis is over.

2. Contacting People Living On Their Own

We are blessed with children and grandchildren and we miss them terribly. But at least we are in contact with them. I began to think of all the people I knew who live totally on their own and have few, if any, relatives who would contact them.

I started calling them up and offered my children’s help in bringing them shopping if they needed it. I could sense from their voice that just hearing someone asking how they were cheered them up, so I ring them occasionally.

3. Praying

I pray regularly but have to admit that it’s often by rote and something I do with one part of my mind on all the other things I have to do when I‘ve finished praying.

But now I don’t have that much else to do. Nowhere to go. No one to see. So I take my time in the morning and pray at a slower pace. I check the English translation when I realize that although I’ve been saying this for years I don’t really know what it means.

I’ve added on a few extra prayers that speak to me and I’ve got a long list of people to pray for – especially those hit by the virus.

4. Tolerance

I think I’m more tolerant now than I was before all this (don't ask my husband). I’ve started buying my weekly shopping online so as not to burden my children with too much extra work. After all, they're at home trying to work while taking care of little children and their home-schooling schedules.

I don’t always like what the shop sends, but I just have to accept it. Yes, things are often missing –and of course it’s just the item that I waiting for. But I try to smile through it all and be glad that this option is available, and learn to make do with what I received rather than what I wish I had.

5. Showing Gratitude

Yes, it’s frustrating to suddenly have to sit back and let others do everything for you when you’re still physically capable of doing it, but you’re not allowed to – for your own good.

It’s also difficult to know how to say thank you to all the people who are now looking after you, but it’s important to try.

I’ve been baking a lot more cookies and cakes in the last few weeks and distribute them to my children when they come by with shopping items I need and couldn’t get online. They knock on the door leaving the items outside the door and then with mask and gloves on, they step back down the stairs so I can come out and wave to them and leave them some baked goods to take home.

Many toy stores now have home deliveries so I’ve ordered some crayons, coloring books, games and toys and books for all ages and give them to the children.

6. Trying Doing Something You Think You Can't Do

For several years I’ve had help cleaning the house as my back and knees really ache when I try and clean the floors and the bath. But with no one coming into the house now I’ve had no choice but to have-a-go myself, and I’ve been really surprised that after a few weeks the aches and pains aren’t so bad. Maybe the extra exercise has got me into better shape.

This is an opportune time to try other things you've given up on – learning a new language, reading that enormous book, or taking a new online class.

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