Taking Care During Isolation

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Reflect on the positives, connect on video, look at puppies
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The Urgent-Important Matrix is a useful tool for categorizing all tasks in your life and prioritizing those that are the most important and urgent.

By: Tyler Saumur, ORT Times Science Writer

With the current pandemic at hand and “social or physical distancing”, the concepts of self-care and mental health have been increasingly at the forefront of public attention. While COVID-19 has put our focus on mental health and self-care in these isolating times, social isolation is something commonly felt in graduate studies. Maybe you are the only trainee in your lab or just moved to a new country where you miss your friends and family back home. It begs the question: what can we do to keep our sanity and stay engaged in times of feeling isolated and overwhelmed?

Overcoming feelings of isolation.

First things first, if you are feeling isolated, connect with those you are missing. Use video calling if possible because it strengthens bonding to a greater extent than just voice calling. If you miss watching movies with your friends, Netflix Party enables you to chat with your friends while you all watch a movie or show simultaneously. For game night, consider JackBox, Codenames and Words with Friends 2, which all currently offer free games to stay connected.

If people aren’t your thing, connect with nature. If your neighbourhood isn’t crowded, consider going for walks to avoid going stir crazy. If you don’t feel comfortable going outside, there are live cams all over the world capturing nature, and kittens and puppies as well. Connecting with the people and world around you will help you overcome feelings of seclusion.

Overcoming feelings of inundation.

Feeling overwhelmed can happen for many reasons, whether it be a large amount of work that needs to be done or balancing caring for your family. There are strategies that can help you adjust your mindset and prioritize tasks. To help you get organized in the morning, think of all the tasks you want to accomplish that day or week—school, work, home-related tasks. Put them into a list, then into an Urgent-Important Matrix (image pictured in this article) to help you prioritize.

Another strategy to set your mind at ease is to spend the first five minutes of your day writing everything down that is okay in the present moment: you woke up this morning, you have a roof over your head, any positives you can think of. Similarly, before going to sleep, write down five things that you are grateful for to remind you that, despite the struggles experienced throughout the day, there are important things to be thankful for.

Lastly, be respectful. Your experience is not like everyone else’s and vice versa. Everyone is juggling something that you probably don’t know about. Be kind and be considerate–we are all human.


Improving Mental Health During COVID-19 (Resources at end of page)

Mental Health and Self Care Practices