Self-Isolation Survival Kit
Today, I'm going to share with you my complete survival kit for those in self-isolation.
I will show you precisely what you need to do to boost your immunity and cope with life in confinement during the COVID-19 pandemic.
I have gathered these techniques from both ancient traditions and modern disciplines and refined them over years of self-practice.
They have kept me healthy and sane through many testing times, and will help you:
Manage your emotions
Boost your immune system
Soothe your nervous system
Cope with life in isolation.
Treat this post as a toolkit you can dip in and out of as you need, and come back to it for reference as often as you like.
Let's get started.
Self-Care for Immune Health
As COVID-19 sweeps across the world and countries go into lockdown, the emotions of fear and panic help to facilitate the spread of the disease.
This is because fear activates the sympathetic nervous system, or fight or flight response, which, when sustained over long periods, weakens immunity.
Add to this the stress of being confined to your home with your family, partner, flatmates, or alone, which can also make you more susceptible to falling ill.
Therefore, self-care is more important now than ever.
Use these practices daily, and as often as you like.
This is first on the list for a reason. If there is just one self-care practice you start — or continue — during this time, make it this one.
Even just 5 minutes per day is enough to make a difference, but if you can do more, that's even better.
Meditation activates the parasympathetic nervous system or the "rest and digest" response that is the opposite of the all-too-familiar "fight or flight".
This helps to boost your immune system and calm your nervous system.
It also brings your mind into the present moment, which can help break the racing thoughts that accompany anxiety.
A regular meditation practice will also help you become more aware of thought patterns that lead to anxious feelings. Bringing awareness to them will help you to stop them in their tracks.
There are many guided meditations and resources out there, from apps to YouTube videos.
Here is a guided meditation I recorded, especially for this crisis.
Exercise is a powerful immune booster.
It also releases feel-good hormones, including endorphins, dopamine, and oxytocin, making it your secret weapon for protecting your mental health whilst on lockdown.
Thankfully, home fitness has never been more accessible, and there are a plethora of resources out there to suit every need and budget.
I've had a Beachbody subscription and worked out at home for years, but there are plenty of free resources available too.
One of the best I've found is FitnessBlender, which offers both free workout videos and paid structured programmes.
Their workouts include a range of training styles, from classic weight training and HIIT to Pilates-inspired routines.
Another teacher I love is Sadie Nardini, who blends yoga with HIIT training and has a keen anatomical focus.
She just released access to her Fit & Fierce Club for free to support those currently in isolation.
For a more gentle kind of yoga, my go-to lady is YouTube's Yoga With Adriene.
She offers something for all levels, occasions, and emotional states.
You can also get creative and create your own workout. Even if you don't have weights, you can use tins of food.
Or you could turn your dining table into a ping-pong table and challenge your co-isolators to a match!
Anything you can do to get moving will benefit your physical and mental wellbeing — the only limit is your imagination...and your space.
Relax your abdomen, unclench your butt, and take one deep, calming breath into your belly.
Don't you feel better already?
In these scary times, it can be easy to forget to breathe.
Yet, it is one of the most powerful tools we have for calming our nerves and stopping anxious or fearful thoughts from getting out of our control.
Watch this video to learn some breathing techniques you can use any time you notice difficult emotions coming up.
This crisis has thrown into sharp relief the things we take for granted.
The freedom to move, travel, and spend time with loved ones.
Many have realised that even access to the food we eat — and of course toilet paper — can be easily taken away.
Suddenly, the things that truly matter become clearer than a mountain spring.
Our health, loved ones, homes and beds, running water, and electricity. Our jobs and businesses that provide for our families. The public health systems and their staff, who are the heroes of this crisis.
These are all things we usually take for granted.
Now, we realise how incredibly necessary — and fragile — they are.
Practising gratitude daily and focusing on the positives of the crisis can shift your perspective on it, thus helping you to live through it with greater inner peace and acceptance.
Daily gratitude journaling trains your brain to look for the positives in any given situation.
For example, instead of focusing on your frustration with not being able to leave the house, you can focus on being grateful for:
This time we have all been gifted to go inward and heal
The new sense of global community
And that Mother Earth has a chance to heal.
We should all be incredibly grateful for the technology that allows us to stay connected to one another, and that keeps us entertained during these times of confinement.
Without it, staying home would be much more unpleasant.
Try writing out five to ten things you are grateful for each morning, and observe how it affects your thought patterns and emotions.
It's essential to keep a positive attitude since our moods are contagious, too, and we can easily "infect" one another with lower vibrational emotions.
Gratitude journaling will not only help you, but it will also help keep the peace and harmony with your fellow inmates. If you are in isolation alone, it will help keep you from dwelling on thoughts that lead to feelings of loneliness.
Food as Medicine
As the adage goes, we really are what we eat, and during these times of high stress, maintaining a nutritious diet is more important than ever.
No matter what type of diet you subscribe to, some ground rules apply to everyone.
If I could give you just one nutrition tip, it would be this: eat more vegetables.
I know it's pretty boring advice in a world the next fad diet is lurking around the corner, ready to empty your pockets with its empty promises.
But it turns out Grandma was right: eating your greens really will make you healthy and strong.
And not just greens: go for red, orange, yellow, white, and purple veggies too.
"Eating the rainbow" will give your body the nutrients it needs and the best possible chance of beating off infections.
Not only that, but what you put in your mouth directly affects your mood, so eating as many fresh, whole foods as possible will help you cope with the ups and downs of confinement.
Since you'll have so much free time on your hands, why not experiment with some new, healthy recipes you've never tried before?
I'm guessing a lot of people are enjoying the novelty of weekday lie-ins right now.
And rightly so!
Sleep is so vital for our health, but with the pressures of modern life, most of us are sleep deprived.
Your nightly reset is essential for the proper functioning of every system of your body, and it even helps protect the brain from degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's.
Use this time to catch up on some much-needed shut-eye. Take naps whenever you feel tired. Get up when you wake up naturally.
Let your body sleep as much as possible — it's probably carrying a lot of built-up exhaustion and will appreciate the chance to recuperate.
If, like me, you have problems with sleep, you should check out my friend Alex - aka the Glowing Health Coach - for some fantastic sleep resources.
Water supports all of the body's systems in all their proper functioning, as well as flushing out toxins.
Energetically, it cleanses from the inside out, moving stale energy out of the body and raising your energetic vibration.
Drink at least two litres per day, especially after movement and meditation, or any time your emotions are running high.
Mindful Media Consumption
Stop the scroll!!
There is so much (mis)information flying around right now. Even global health experts don't fully understand COVID-19 yet, so it's important to choose your sources wisely.
Personally, I'm avoiding Facebook, which is pretty much a cesspit of conspiracies, trolls, and fake news at the best of times.
Now, it's all-too-easy to get sucked into dark holes.
These days, I prefer Instagram, but instead of influencers and their staged lives, I follow activists and lightworkers who fill my feed with helpful tips and positivity.
Of course, it's important to stay informed about the crisis so we can all play our part as responsible citizens.
But it's also important to be mindful of where, when, and how we consume media, as well as the author's possible agenda.
I recommend the WHO website for impartial advice and information, as well as the latest situation reports.
Mindless media consumption is an addiction like any other that will detriment your mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing. It will also keep you paralysed by fear (which is what they want, by the way).
So turn off the 24-hour newsreel and turn your attention inward. Focus on your own wellbeing and ask yourself how you can serve.
Coping With Confinement
With millions of us now in lockdown around the world, it may take some time to adapt to your newly-shrunken world.
Many will miss their daily activities outside the home, including sport, socialising, and even going to work.
Others may struggle to cope with spending so much time with their cohabitants, while some will find themselves contending with loneliness.
You can expect to feel a broad spectrum of emotions at some point. Here are my top tips for managing them.
Hold Space for One Another
When emotions are running high, it's essential to be able to talk through and process them.
We're all affected in different ways, so there is no right or wrong response to this crisis.
Talking is one of the most beneficial ways of dealing with difficult emotions. Being stuck at home together gives us all a beautiful opportunity to practise holding space for one another.
What does it mean to hold space for someone?
First, it's important to practise active listening. This means really listening to what the person says, instead of thinking of what you want to say next and waiting for your turn to speak.
Wait for the person to finish speaking, then ask them follow-up questions. Be genuinely interested, and ask open questions that invite them to dig deeper.
When it's your turn to process, have them do the same for you.
This is a beautiful way we can serve one another whilst creating a more profound sense of connection and support.
Respect Each Other's Space
Whilst in isolation, it's more important than ever to respect each other's need for personal space.
This is different for everyone, so if you're not sure, ask! Make sure you communicate your needs, too, so that no one gets offended.
For example, Max knows that sometimes I need to retreat into myself and do my own thing for a while, so he leaves me to it and doesn't take it personally.
If you're a couple, spending all this time together could be an excellent opportunity to take your relationship to the next level.
I love Layla Martin's desires, fears, and loves exercise. In it, you take turns to ask your partner about their hopes and dreams, what their deepest fears are (the ones that we usually avoid talking about), and what they love most about you!
Sharing vulnerably lets down those guards you've been conditioned to put up and creates a deeper connection between you and your partner.
Whether you live with family, friends, or acquaintances, isolation can be an opportunity to strengthen bonds or heal old wounds.
Even if you live alone, you can take time to explore what's important to you and re-evaluate aspects of your life that no longer serve you. Some of the best ways to do this include meditation and journaling.
This can be an especially difficult time for those who live alone. If you or someone you know is alone at this time, reach out.
Thankfully, with all the technology we have at our fingertips, alone does not have to mean lonely.
Video chats are almost as good as a face-to-face conversation (without the risk of infection!).
You can even organise a virtual coffee date, cheese and wine evening, or dinner with friends...all from the comfort of your home.
Laughter is a powerful medicine, and it can also help dissipate tension and alleviate stress and anxiety.
Have a living room dance party.
Play board games.
Make silly videos and post them on social media.
Let your inner child take over for a day and see what he or she wants to do. You may surprise yourself!
With all this new-found time on your hands, you may find that even Netflix gets boring after a while.
Now is the perfect time to let your creative juices flow.
It could be music, painting, dancing, crafts, colouring mandalas, or making dreamcatchers; all of it is therapeutic and will help you pass the time.
If you are an artist or creative type, try doing something totally outside your usual medium.
For example, if you're a musician, try learning to paint. It may well give you unexpected and fresh inspiration for a new song!
Have you been meaning to learn a language or a musical instrument, or become a programmer?
Maybe you want to start an online business, meditation practice, fitness routine, or plant-based diet, but you just don't have time?
Well, now, you do!
Honestly, I feel like not taking time for self-improvement during this time would be a huge wasted opportunity for all of us.
We all have ways we can grow and develop. And we all have dreams and projects that we haven't set in action yet.
This time is a gift — a chance for us to retreat into our cocoons and emerge as butterflies.
It's time to create the person you want to be and the life you want to live.
The global lockdown caused by COVID-19 is presenting us with a unique opportunity.
Our action-driven world and eternally busy lives have ground to a halt, forcing us to slow down, go inward, and face everything we usually avoid.
We can no longer cling to our addiction to the masculine, Yang energy of action.
It is time to embrace the feminine, Yin, the stillness, and the darkness.
This is the only way we can heal, and the world is crying out for it.
People everywhere are crushed by the oppression of a system designed to make the rich richer and the poor poorer.
Our need for continuous consumption and growth is poisoning the planet.
The practices described above will help all of us reflect on how we live and the future we want to create.
Collective change starts with the individual.
What will you do to help build a better, fairer world for all?
If you try any of the suggestions in the survival kit, please share your experience in the comments.
And don't forget to share it with anyone who might need it.