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Finding Yourself in Self-Isolation

Coronavirus has had an unquestionable impact on our lives, and on the lives of people across the globe. One of the biggest challenges faced by humans as a collective, has been going into lockdown. For the time being our movements, our ability to see friends and loved ones, and even where we work, is all restricted.

Self-isolation has left many of us feeling anxious and out of control, and for those who already felt alone the silence is louder than ever. Our daily interactions with those we care about are restricted, and our routines have been left in chaos. We lack the distractions we perhaps took for granted before – whether this be commuting to work, attending social events or just having chit chat, we can no longer avoid ourselves.

Whilst many of us often long for a bit time to ourselves, time which may be fundamental to our self-care routines, having too much time to be with ourselves can be problematic.

We as humans are often blissfully unaware of our true selves. We often hide our faults from ourselves, so that we don’t have to face with the reality that we aren’t perfect. Being presented with our limitations can make us feel vulnerable and insecure, however they also offer to us the opportunity to grow, and to become the person we want to be.

Social-isolation has presented us with an invaluable opportunity to get to know our true selves. We have nothing but time to listen to ourselves, and to tune in to our thoughts and feelings. We have an unprecedented opportunity to get to know what motivates us, what scares us, what drives and excites us. We can ask ourselves who we want to be, and who we don’t! We have time to work out what we need to become the version of ourselves we dream of. What do we need in order to grow? What do we need from ourselves? What we need from others.

But how do we get to know ourselves?

Journaling is a very simple task, that is proven to be incredibly effective in promoting positive mental health. Writing down your thoughts as they come to you can help you to track your thought patterns, your emotions and also your triggers. It can help you to identify your hopes, your dreams but also your fears. You can track yourself over a period of time and look back at your progress and how far you have come. Journaling is incredibly practical in that all you need is time and something to write on, whether that be pen and paper or even your phone. Journaling can be a great opportunity to get into a habit of thinking and talking about yourself in a positive light, and you can give yourself the affirmations that you need to hear.

Similarly, video blogging can be an incredibly effective tool for getting to know yourself on a deeper level. Video blogging can feel more effortless than journaling, and can be more efficient in keeping up with the fast pace of your thoughts. It can feel more like self-counselling, and can feel like a more natural method of expression for extroverts and those who find talking beneficial. Similarly, it can be a great way of pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone if you are somebody who is a little more introverted, and a great way to practice and witness your progress over time.

Going for walks and spending time in nature can also grant you the peace and quiet to really hear yourself think; to allow your thoughts to wander and to see where they take you. Whilst we are permitted to take one walk a day for exercise, perhaps consider taking out your headphones, removing distractions and discover where your mind takes you.

Finding yourself goes beyond listening to your thoughts however, and this can be problematic for those who struggle with ill mental health or maladaptive thoughts. Beyond all else, finding yourself can and should be fun!

We all have within each of us, skills and talents just waiting to be discovered and unlocked. Being in lockdown or self-isolation, you have the opportunity to experiment, and dip your toes in different ponds and see what you enjoy. You can read articles online on topics you had previously never given a second thought to, watch how to videos online and download apps. You can try your hand at languages (including sign language), get creative with arts, crafts and cooking, try different online exercise classes on youtube. You can take online personality tests, and see what types of career you are best suited to, such as the Myers Briggs test. You can play with your routine – are you best suited to having freedom or do you perform best with structure and routine? Does it make a difference if you exercise in the morning, or at lunch time as opposed to in the evening? Do you feel more refreshed after reading during your lunch break (if you are working from home), or going for a walk? These are all lessons you can apply when life resumes again. The possibilities are endless. You never know what you might be good at and what you might enjoy until you try.

We currently have an unprecedented opportunity to get to know ourselves for better, worse or otherwise – take it!

By Hayley Broughton-McKinna