Thursday 19 March 2020

Tips for coping with self-isolation

A number of people have shared their tips for coping with self-isolation which seem practical and superficially sensible but are nonetheless wrong. I'm seasoned at this. Ignore the amateurs.

1. Firstly, establish a routine. Routine is important. By staying up til 5am watching Deep Space Nine you can sleep most of the day away thus limiting your exposure to work related emails.

2. Don't worry about a lunch break. A bowl of cereal while rewatching Breaking Bad will set you on until your oven pizza time about 11pm.

3. If you get bored, slug a bottle of Blossom Hill in half an hour. It will knock you unconscious for at least three hours. If you do this enough you may even lose track of what day it is.

4. Avoid sunlight. Nothing good happens when other people are awake. Keep your socialising to random Canadians over Skype in the evenings.

5. Keep well medicated. Regardless of how well you isolate, people you know will still insist on making contact with you. If you load up on about five or six codeine every day it gives you a nice buzz that will take the edge off whatever inanities they're spouting. When they notice you're not really listening to them just claim there's a delay on Skype and ask them to forward their thoughts to whichever spam email account you keep.

6. Keep your mind active. Freecell and Minesweeper kills hours at a time if you've got the codeine/wine balance right. Be careful not to overstimulate though.

7. Learn how to manage depression. Sometimes you may feel despondent like nothing you do matters and everything is horrible. That's a common feeling because it's actually true. Nothing you do matters and everything is horrible with or without Coronavirus.

8. General mental health. After prolonged isolation you may start hearing voices. Sadly they're not much more interesting than real people. It's not like the movies either. The voices don't tell you to kill people. It's just your paranoia talking, churning over all your insecurities that you're ugly, boring and stupid and will never amount to anything. As soon as you accept that's all true, the voices just become background noise you can filter out the same as friends and family.

9. Panic attacks. Sometimes you can get a sudden shot of adrenaline to the brain triggering a fight or flight reflex where you're convinced you're in danger of imminent death. Luckily, there's a good chance it's true at the moment so don't fight it. You've had a good innings. If you were going to accomplish something you would have by now. The sooner you accept your mortality and the pointlessness of your existence, death holds no fear and panic stops bothering you.

10. Staying clean. It's important to shave at least once every three weeks and do the washing up at least once a month. So I'm told. Never saw any real practical value in it but at least when mum/sibling phones you can answer honestly when they ask if you're taking care of yourself.

11. Exercise. They say you can get high from natural endorphins. You can get the same effect by spinning around in your office chair til you get dizzy. Don't worry about getting fat. Chain smoking and panic attacks will keep the weight off.

12. Manage deadlines. Often people will put deadlines on things they want from you. Keep in mind that if they needed it done urgently they'd have asked someone else to do it, and it's probably not important because nothing ever is. Do it when you feel like it, even if that's never.

13. Be creative. Send colourful and abusive emails to local politicians and petty complaint letters to companies you don't buy anything from. Make really big deal about the lack of pepperoni on their 97p pizzas. Anything that will waste their time as much as they've wasted yours.

14. Keep hydrated. After fourteen hours of sleep you may wake up with dizziness and a headache. Codeine and Talisker will usually sort this out and it helps you nap for another three hours.

15. Socialise when you can. At some point the lockdown will ease so when you go to the Esso garage on the corner at 3am be sure to lecture the French shelf stacker on the finer points of Brexit, international treaties and trade standards. They'll remember you and nod politely next time they see you. You've then got a friend.

16. Keep your spirits up. Occasionally browse job boards. It will remind you why slowly dying in a solitary hovel is preferable to the alternatives.

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