Advice for coping with isolation
In times of stress, it is important to pay attention to your own needs and feelings. A few simple practices can be helpful in coping with isolation: stay in touch with loved ones, establish a routine, don’t be afraid to log out...
Staying in touch with your community
- Keep in touch with your loved ones and your close friends (via email, through social media, video calls, over the phone…) Set aside several moments every day for making these calls..
- Offer valuable assistance to those who need you. Don’t hesitate to reach out to people who you know might be isolated and who might need help.
- If you are in complete isolation, you will find that many others are in the same situation! Call them regularly, catch up with one another… It will break up your isolation as well as theirs.
Find your routine
Even astronauts say so! To best habituate ourselves in this confinement period, we need to establish a routine, consisting of regular habits as well as moments of fun and leisure. Some important practices:
- Limit time spent in bed, and if your living space allows, try to allocate a dedicated workspace.
- Get dressed in the morning as though you were going out.
- Prepare balanced meals at regular times of the day.
- Maintain physical activity at home, using the activities suggested by student societies.
- Separate your time between work and recreation (by setting out a timetable, for instance) and give yourself regular short breaks: open the window, stretch, look as far away as you are able to (to steady your eyesight).
- If you are working in a network with other people, greet them when you come online and signal to them when you finish working for the day - just like you would say “good morning” or “bye”!
- Set aside half a day, at least once a week, for rest and recuperation.
- Use an agenda, post-its, or any other tool that helps you to visualise your activities in time, and reserve windows of time in your timetable for progressing with background tasks that require more time.
And don’t forget to schedule time for fun and leisure in your agenda! An elaborate meal, a phone call, time to meditate…
Log out regularly
- An incessant stream of information can generate anxiety: stay informed by setting specific points during the day (such as one hour in the morning and another in the evening, or when health authorities make important announcements), and otherwise minimise time spent watching, reading, or listening to information that makes you feel anxious or distressed.
- Try to limit your screen time (FR), which might mean taking certain measures to reduce temptation: disabling notifications, keeping track of screen time on your devices, etc.
- Be sure to get information from reliable sources, and with the intention of organising and protecting yourself and your loved ones. Try to stick to official channels and be cautious of rumours and misinformation that frequently circulate over email and messenger services such as Whatsapp. The following two links may be helpful in this:
If you are in self-isolation
If you are alone in self-isolation, let the Student Life Services know using this form. Please do not hesitate to do so: we are here to help!
If you are taking care of children
- During this isolation period, when all routine seems to be disrupted, children can experience stress, and might express this in various ways: by being more “clingy”, anxious, elusive, irritable, agitated, or with behaviours such as beginning to wet the bed again. They also observe adults’ emotions, behaviours, and reactions, looking for cues for managing their own emotional upset during this difficult time.
- Try to respond sympathetically to these changes in behaviour. Listen to their worries, which will often be particular to their age, and give them more affection and attention than usual. Help them find constructive ways to express their emotions, and join in with creative activities (games, drawing…) that can help them to share their emotions. If they have questions, talk to your children sincerely and honestly about COVID-19, using age-appropriate vocabulary.
- For yourself as well as for them, try to keep your routine as close as possible to normal, and organise every day a rotation between “serious” time (devoted to learning and exercise, for example) and time for relaxation (naps, play, etc). If you are not able to “homeschool” as well as you would like to, or if your child is not cooperating, remember that it’s not the end of the world: sometimes exceptional circumstances require us to be more lenient than usual!
If you have specific health conditions
If you have a cognitive impairment, you may be feeling more anxiety, stress or agitation than usual, or the desire to withdraw. Allow yourself to be supported by your family and friends, if you find this support helpful and effective, or contact a professional or a specialist service.
If you suffer from a chronic illness, ensure that you have at least 15 days worth of medication. If you need help, don’t hesitate to contact people in your community or the Sciences Po Health Centre.
If you are a person at high risk, or if you are feeling anxious, plan ahead by writing a list of numbers you might need with contact details for medical services, food delivery services, and family and friends who would be able to help you.
- “Épidémie et confinement : ressources utiles pour notre santé mentale” (FR) on the Association PsyCom website
- Recommendations of 12 march 2020 (FR) on the website of the World Health Organization