I’m sharing the below not as a medical expert but as someone with lived-experience of chronic sickness, as someone who has been a long-time carer of those living with sickness, including previously whose family member had a life-threatening contagious viral disease which had devastating impacts and as someone whose practice for years has been rooted in Disability Justice.
Deeply- breathing is an important way to regulate your nervous system and reduce stress which can prevent the immune system operating at its optimum.
- Context: Sickness is not a failure/ something that should be punished, be mindful how language reproduces cultures of fear and shame
- Context: Look to/ uplift those doing the work of disability justice who have proven over and over again how to navigate and survive societies who have neglected and failed those with chronic ill-health and sickness as public health issues – there is wisdom and genius here
- Context: We are living in the consequences of hundreds of years of chronic sustainability via systems of oppression such as colonialism and capitalism that brutalised our bodies as well as emerging sickness due to climate degradation – this is a global and public health matter
- Context: the British Neoliberal common-sense has made our relationships be based on individualisation – making our wellness and health be personal responsibility – when real health and healing happens in community – this can be online, and we need to practice new and adaptive ways
- Context: Not everyone can self-isolate – they live in houses/rooms that are shared and overcrowded.
- Context: Great focusing on hygiene but please understand the racialised and class biases that historically criminalised and punished people – language is important (e.g mass social cleansing/ gentrification)
SOME TIPS ON SELF ISOLATION:
- Feel what you need to feel but don’t project or put them on other people – unprocessed emotions get stored in our bodies but it’s not other people’s work to feel them for you
- Ground your body every day, both morning and night – sickness and fear of it can feel like a forever so being present helps things feel manageable and not overwhelming. (You can try breathwork, mountain pose, feeling the ground, centring yourself in the room, focusing on a particular thing, placing a hand on heart tuning in to your heartbeat – there are apps for these and YouTube)
- Time can become a loop in isolation both too fast and too slow – ground your day with routine and ritual, e.g. eat on time, shower, meditate, schedule a phone call – put alarms on your phone to get in habit – daily habits will give you a sense of flow, purpose and structure
- Listen to your body – help hear it better through stretching and gentle movement/yoga/ salah -bodywork strengthens communication between what your body needs and how you can meet those
- Isolation/mass fear can bring about feels of deep fear and anger, especially for those whose generational memories include survival of their communities being threatened – this is normal – process this through journaling/creating art/drawing
- Balanced binging – diversify the sensory experiences Netflix/podcasts/audiobooks/books/music
- Find ways to give yourself joy and do things for your body – when we are in fear we can disassociate from our bodies – dance/sing/pleasure activism/rewatch things that make you belly laugh
- Watch movies with friends via WhatsApp/Skype/Zoom – collectivise online chill
- shaking out body/tremoring/tapping your body can be a great way to release adrenaline
- Use plants and herbs in teas/oils to build the immunity system, soothe the nervous system and purify the air (you can google online for these/please put on comments)
- Melanated – try to get sun where you can
- Sleep on time and don’t stay in bed all day if you are well enough – change clothes, do laundry – personal and sleep hygiene are so important for feeling well.
- Send people food
- Digital justice – not everyone has wifi/ data so check-in with neighbours and share wifi where needed
- If you’re someone with resources and money, please ease someone who lives in precarity by letting them know you could put some £££ their way, so they are not forced to be out
- Not a silver lining but personally when I got sick a year and a half ago, I was forced to surrender realities of who I thought I was or what my life would be. I actually did a surrender ceremony, where I mapped out all the different realities and versions of myself I had projected and I handed them over to universe/ divine/ god. Now I am living my most liberated and joyful life, I am only myself with nothing to prove or need to be. It taught me justice means I no longer get to abandon myself even when things are uncomfortable/uncertain – ever and that we must not abandon each other too. Combined with Disability Justice it fostered profound accessibility by redressing disposability culture, internally and externally. Whether it’s through connecting to my body, as a means to not self-abandon or whether it’s looking at practical ways that all of us get to participate so no one is left behind. Not abandoning ourselves or each other because it is painful, risks loss or is hard, are the necessary social habits that will make health possible for all us.