Think of the good you are doing others: A leading British Psychological Society psychologist working with the NPWS gives six tips for coping with coronavirus self-isolation

If you remind yourself you are going into self-isolation to help others, it will make the experience less stressful says a leading psychologist from the British Psychological Society.

Dr Noreen Tehrani from the BPS Crisis, Disaster and Trauma Psychology section says:

“As the number of people contracting coronavirus increases, more of us will be required to stay at home in quarantine. For many this will be a stressful time: they will be worried they may be infected or have infected family, friends and colleagues. And being forced into social isolation can have negative psychological consequences that increase the distress.”

“So remember you are going into quarantine not only for the sake of your own health but also to prevent the virus being passed to others. It may be boring being cooped up for two or three weeks, but it does mean you have done your best to protect the people you usually meet.”

Tips for coping

Dr Tehrani has put together some tips for coping with quarantine:

  • Keep a routine: Even if you are at home and unable to meet others socially, it is important having a routine or structure to your day. Work out a timetable with a time to get up, rest, cook, clean and contact friends. Think about those things you always meant to do but never got around to doing, like sorting out the family photographs, writing your life history or picking up a neglected hobby. Sitting doing nothing creates time for to dwell on the unhappy things in life.
  • Maintain social contact: Even though you are in quarantine you can still be in contact with friends and family or set up a home office where you can get on with an important project or develop a new idea. 
  • Avoid family arguments: If you are quarantined with your family, make sure that there is space for everyone to have personal time. Small irritations can become the cause of major arguments if not handled sensitively.
  • Plan ahead: If you think you may be asked to go into quarantine, think about the things you will need that will be difficult to access if you are confined to the house. Are there books you would want to read or recipes you would like to cook or hobbies you would like to pursue?
  • Don’t watch too much news: Restrict the amount of time you spend watching the news. If you are spending more than an hour a day watching it you will find it difficult to think about anything else. By reducing the time you spend watching news about the virus, you increase the time you have to build your resilience and strength through using the time to learn new skills, take exercise or rest.
  • Manage your fears: It is natural for people to be concerned about their health and wellbeing when in quarantine, but if these thoughts begin to take over it can be harmful. Try to distract yourself with a good film or box set, play games or phone a friend. Write down your worries on a piece of paper, read them and then put the paper into a box or envelope with the instruction you cannot worry about them again for at least six hours.

We have turned the above advice into an infographic which you can download for your own use.