Coping in isolation

Anyone following the news is finding themselves in a place of abnormal isolation. While the world is shutting down in many regards, we remain in the constant presence of our own thoughts. Regardless of how you view the current international crisis, your life has changed compared to just a few weeks ago. 

Coping with the current increased isolation can feel like a mind game. While some days seem fine, others are difficult. Taking care of yourself requires self discipline. 

  1. Give yourself permission to feel the negative emotions. Waves of sadness, irritability, anxiety… these are all normal in response to the current circumstances. Don’t be a hero. Instead, acknowledge these emotions as warranted and legitimate.
  2. While giving yourself permission to feel the negative emotions is important, it is equally important not to bask in them like a warm bath. Commit to using coping strategies to transition yourself out of negative emotions.
  3. If you are giving yourself license to acknowledge the negative aspects of COVID, keep yourself accountable for acknowledging the positive things occurring in response to COVID. Examples: pollution has decreased significantly; families are learning to be present and spend time together; people are learning to slow down in general, rather than distracting themselves with busy schedules; people are using technology to connect more than ever before with increased video calling, playing games by video call, etc.; people are getting more fresh air and getting outside more than before, something we fundamentally need but are often too distracted to do; priorities are clearer rather than complicated by worldly distractions and desires.


Coping with isolation is better achieved with increased self care. I often find that, when people hear the phrase self care, they think too ‘big’, thereby minimizing the small, yet significant, things they do for self care throughout the day. Examples:

  1. The warmth of a cup of coffee between your hands in the morning to help you start the day.
  2. Letting the dog out because it gives you a reason to say ‘wait’ without feeling guilty that you’re standing outside for five minutes rather than serving the people in the house
  3. Taking a shower, doing your hair, and other grooming activities that make you feel whole
  4. Making your bed because you love getting into a made bed later
  5. Preparing a warm cup of tea before bed, just because it symbolizes calm, even when you don’t get around to drinking it.
  6. Reading the Bible, a daily devotion or other written escape that takes you out of your own head and into another mental space
  7. Prayer and/ or meditation

Self care can be small and brief while also having an impact on our sense of calm. I have noticed that people often have self care rituals they do not identify as such. Instead, take the time to make a note of what these rituals are for you, and notice how you feel when you do them so that they receive the credit they deserve in positively affecting your mood for the day. 

So, what can you do to get through today?

  1. Feel the feelings and let them go
  2. Acknowledge positive aspects of your current hardship or adjustment
  3. Creatively use technology to connect with others
  4. Get outside
  5. Notice your small but significant self care rituals that help you feel whole, and commit to sticking with them as much as you can

Lastly, know that struggling right now is ok. We are here to help and can do so without you leaving your home. If you need more assistance, do not hesitate to schedule a telethealth appointment. A clinician can be a lifeline during this difficult time. 

Eileen Dummer
Eileen Dummer MA, LPCC

Eileen earned her Masters of Art degree in Counseling and Psychotherapy from Adler Graduate School in Richfield, MN after obtaining her undergraduate degree in Psychology and French from the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point. Eileen’s professional experience has included assessment and therapeutic intervention work with pediatric and well as adult clients. As a licensed professional clinical counselor, Eileen uses a frame work of family systems and cognitive behavioral therapy. Read More

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