2nd May 2020

Nicola’s tips for self-isolating

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Living in isolation can be extremely hard, but there are lots of things you can do to make it more bearable. One of our patient advocates, Nicola, is isolating at home in Harrogate with her partner. She has shared some of the ways she’s coping with the situation:

“Having someone to live with can provide a lot of comfort, but there are ups and downs! Here what my partner, Julian and I have been doing together:

Dig out old games and play/relearn them

You may have games at the back of a cupboard that haven’t seen daylight for a while – now’s the perfect opportunity to dig them out again.

Learn a new game

If you have a pack of playing cards, there are so many different games you can learn. There are lots of tutorials on the internet that will teach you the rules.

Expand your conversation

Allocate a set time each day to have tea orcoffee and chat together about a topic you need to research to discuss. It could be something you’ve found interesting but never investigated properly, such as places you’d like to visit or the pros and cons of modern forms of communication.

I know I’m really fortunate to have Julian here with me. Being alone must be really be tough, especially when you have lung cancer. Here’s some of the things I’ve been doing on my own to pass the time:

Do a jigsaw

It’s always hugely rewarding after completing a 1,000-piece puzzle!

Read a book you’ve been meaning to read

We’re often too busy or too tired to read, but sometimes there’s nothing better than getting lost in a good novel so now is a great time to do this.

Write a book/short story/blog

You don’t need to be J.K. Rowling to write a story, all you need are some interesting characters and a fun plot. A blog is also a brilliant way to share thoughts, feelings and experiences. There are many websites that will help you host your own online blog.

Arrange to speak to loved ones

Set times to catch up with people on Facetime/Skype and try to do it at the same time every day/every other day to gain some routine. Keep in contact with loved ones as much as possible and let them know how you’re doing. Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation is also offering its Keep in Touch Support Service to people affected by lung cancer who are isolated.

A friendly game online

Play a game like Battleships with someone over Skype or Facetime. You can draw the board out on paper and play, or play chess with each player having their own chess board and moving opponent’s pieces along with their own.

Learn a new language

If a foreign language doesn’t interest you maybe try an online sign language course. It’s a great way to keep your brain ticking.

Meditate. Meditate. Meditate.

This has been such an important coping technique for me. Insight Timer is a good app with lots of different meditations for various reasons (sleep, relaxation etc). This can really help with anxiety and keep you calm.

Perfect a new recipe

Enjoy yourself during lockdown with some yummy food!

Hobby hunting

Any art/crafts project – painting, drawing, needlework, knitting. Gardening is always good. With the nice weather we’re having, make your outdoor space a pleasant area you can sit and relax in. Plus, it’s good exercise!

Focus on happier times

Write a list of your favourite past moments, maybe use old photos to jog your memory. You could also go through old photos/cards and make a scrapbook or photo album online.

Spring clean

Getting organised is something we rarely have time for, so with all this spare time why not get rid of all the things you don’t need. This can have a positive impact on your mental health.

As well as these practical things you can do to pass the time, I am also avoiding watching or listening to the news all the time. It’s important to keep up to date, but too much repetitive bad news can make anxiety levels spiral. Instead, I’m watching programmes that makes me laugh, nature programmes, just anything to distract from anxious thoughts and keep you feeling more upbeat.

I’ve also found having a routine is even more important now. Set times during the day when you do specific things such as make coffee, read a chapter, do a household chore, make a phone call. Keeping to the times can help give a sense of structure to the day in these strange, strange times.”