Dr Hala Atkin: Top tips while self-isolating and social distancing

While it’s certain Coronavirus will be making the headlines for a considerable time, it’s a period where we all need to be sensible and think about what we can do to keep ourselves and our families safe.

Earlier this week, the Prime Minister announced strict conditions for people’s movements. This is to stop the spread of the coronavirus and ‘flatten the curve’.

The importance of this is to stop the numbers of people infected rising exponentially giving hospitals more time to prepare, to space out as much as possible those that have to be hospitalised and to try and make sure that resources are not depleted.

Don’t panic, the great majority of people who contract the virus will experience very mild symptoms, the strict measures are to protect the more vulnerable and ensure resources are not overwhelmed, so they can also continue to diagnose and treat health conditions and emergencies that are NOT associated with coronavirus.

Self-isolating and social distancing

So, let’s talk about self-isolating and social distancing.

Self-isolating: If you live alone and you have symptoms of coronavirus, the government’s message is that you must stay at home for seven days from when symptoms started. If you live with others, and you are the first in the household to have symptoms, you must stay at home for seven days, but all other household members who remain well must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days.

Social distancing: Stricter measures have been put in place to stop people congregating. It is going to be a difficult and possibly lonely time for most, our routines have been lost and the stress levels are rising as people’s working lives have dramatically changed.

So, what can we do to help manage this stress?

Exercise can play a big part of this. Staying fit is very important and a lot of people are finding online exercise videos and programmes that are helping to fill the gaps left by not being able to go to the gym. Joe Wicks, a popular social media personality, has launched ‘PE with Joe Wicks’ on his YouTube channel, which has proven to be a popular start to the day for those with families.

The Prime Minister mentioned going out for a run/cycle/walk for some fresh air either on your own or with your family. Please use this time safely and wisely, adhering to guidelines to remain isolated.

This could be a time to consider setting yourself a new exercise challenge, such as the Couch to 5k initiative, which has proved very successful and is a good way of introducing yourself to an exercise regime.

Any way you can fit exercise into your day will help.

Keeping in touch

Staying in touch with wider family and friends will also be important and can be done remotely. At home, we are setting up zoom calls with our family members every evening to say hello, which is a good way to see each other and chat. WhatsApp chats are also easy to set up or picking up the phone to call relatives and friends.

In addition to online supermarket shopping, some local farm shops and food wholesalers are delivering to people who are self-isolating so, for anyone who can’t leave the house, it is worth looking at community Facebook or WhatsApp groups for support.

Something else important to consider is to take time for yourselves. Most of us are now working from home, it is very important to take regular breaks and set up your workspace wisely. Working from home means lots of extra time at home and it’s important not to fill all this time with work. Make sure you have some time away from your screens and phones and spend quality time with your family.

Self-care is also very important – get dressed, try to create a new routine for yourself and your family. It’s important to repeat the message that we shouldn’t be stockpiling anything – there is enough to go around if we are all sensible, and pharmacies are still open for when we need them.

It is an uncertain time for all of us but taking small steps in our new daily lives can make a big difference.  Most importantly, ask for help if you need it and keep an eye on any neighbours who are on their own. It’s a time for looking for each other and recognising that everyone manages stress and uncertainty in their own way.

Dr Hala Atkin
Concierge Medical