Mental Health

11 Tips For Staying Sane During Self-Isolation

By that guy who self-isolates by choice.

I love solitude. I’m the guy who decided to spend New Year’s Eve alone, in a hut, in the middle of nowhere, for fun. Vipassana was too social for my liking. I regularly self-isolate, happily, by choice. But it’s not always been that way. I know what it’s like to choose self-isolation due to depression and social anxiety, and I’m aware there’s a big difference between what I call skilled and unskilled solitude.

Right now, all across the world, people are confined to their homes, self-isolated due to the coronavirus pandemic. At a time where most of us feel free to make our own choices, being constricted to solitude, against our choice, can feel extremely challenging. In this article, I’ll guide you through the shift in mindset to stay sane during self-isolation.


For Jeannette: Reflections On Our Last Meeting

In memory of my auntie Jeannette.

“Did you come alone?” Jeannette asks. I know this code. My conversations with Jeannette have been rare since I left Bristol, left home, limited to Christmas pop-ins or off-chance visits. But our interactions always share a common theme. Questions include “shall I get my wedding hat?”, and “is she the one?”, though this is more subtle. “Yes, I came alone,” I say, and we both understand the language between words, the communicated yet unspoken, the space between lines.

By the law of the family tree, Jeannette was my auntie. But by the law of heart and the law of feeling, she was my grandmother. Sadly, by the laws of nature, her body was slowly giving up on her, the effects of a stroke compounded by rapidly-developing cancer and old age. Physically she was frail; bones protruding, cheeks hollow. But in spirit?


If You Believe In Nothing Else, Believe In Beauty

Believe in beauty.

If you believe in nothing else, if God does not satisfy your taste, if the fate of humankind feels bleak, if the world makes your heart ache and you question reasons why, if life feels unpredictable and chaotic and uncertain and unknown and faith feels far fetched and spirituality superficial and religion reprehensible, if, if, if you believe in nothing else…

Believe in beauty. The beauty of a moment, the beauty of human connection, the beauty of human resilience, the beauty of the search for meaning, the beauty of a smile or a flutter or skipped heartbeat or people you love being right here right now or random acts of kindness or songs sending chills down your spine or memories that make you cry happy tears or future visions that propel you forwards in times of darkness or films that make you see the world differently or books that shake you to the core or Spotify playlists that remind you of yourself or the really silly things that aren’t silly because they make you feel something.