Last week saw the unprecedented rolling out of both self isolation and social distancing across the United Kingdom and a large swathe of the world. We are being told to stay clear of most places, and the majority of people.

Many of us are now either working from home, or simply self isolating there, but there is a significant group of people who are working extra hard to keep things moving for the rest of us. Many people, like myself, have loved ones who, as designated key workers, are still going off to work and leaving us at home fearing for their safety.

A visit to the shops is met with procedures for social distancing, encouraging us to see every other person as a potential source of infection. Black and yellow tape may be stuck to the floor to remind us what 2 metres looks like, or there may be unfamiliar screens and barriers in place.

All this is essential if we are to minimise the impact of Coronavirus and it is important we all play our part. At 8pm last Thursday evening the nation witnessed a round of applause, cheering, and even fireworks, to show our support for, and thanks to the health workers who are working so hard to look after those of us unfortunate enough to fall ill. This outpouring, and initiatives like the 500,000 plus people who have volunteered to help the NHS, is in many ways the opposite of isolation. We may remain physically distanced from each other, but society really does seem to be pulling together.

Yes, we are isolating but that doesn’t mean we have to hide in a cupboard and not come out until this is all over. Likewise, staying in bed and pulling the duvet over your head won’t change anything, and will certainly harm your mental health and well being; so, what can we do?

I see this as a period of huge change and development, for individuals, families, communities, and society in general. There are stories in the media of new innovations in equipment to help the NHS, new ways of working etc.etc. We have at our disposal a myriad of ways in which we can maintain contact with our loved ones, business colleagues, friends etc, and many of us are already becoming proficient at using them. Online meetings are becoming commonplace and increasingly simple to use.

New ways of working are becoming more routine and, who knows, this could prove to be the catalyst for a surge in home working even when the current situation is resolved. Reduced pollution levels in out cities are already pointing to the advantages of cutting journeys to a minimum!

It is often said that everyone has at least one book inside them. Perhaps we are going to see a publishing boom in a few months time to go along with the baby boom which some pundits are predicting.

Home schooling is without a doubt a challenge, made more so by the necessity for so many people to work from home. It is all too easy to become distracted when working from home, without having to control a ‘school class’ at the same time. There is already huge growth in online resources to help with this, and other challenges.

So far the weather hasn’t been bad at all, several days of unseasonably warm, sunny weather has been followed by a bit of a chill, but still not enough to stop us enjoying whatever outside space we can. (2M apart of course)

Isolation is leading to inspiration in so many ways. This is an opportunity for many people to take stock of things and really consider what is important to them. Maybe this is the time to learn something new? The internet is awash with courses, guides, ‘how to’ videos, about pretty much anything you can think of. Quite frankly the world truly is your oyster and imagine how much better it will feel to put this time to good use and benefit from it.

I can easily remember occasions when I have thought “Please stop the world and let me catch up”. Well it seems as though I, and millions of other people, have now been granted that wish. We may be limited in where we can go, and what we can do, but there is no limit to our ingenuity and imagination.

Make no mistake isolation is a challenge, but challenges always lead to inspiration, to acts of selflessness, and ultimately to beneficial changes. It is up to us all to look after ourselves, and others, both in terms of our physical and mental health. Isolation needn’t harm any of us if we work hard to ensure it doesn’t.

Should you, or anyone you know, be struggling to cope at any stage please ask for help. I am available by phone, Skype, or E Mail and would be happy to hear from you. Please also visit my Facebook page for ideas, tips and guidance on how to maintain your mental health and wellbeing.

I’m Ian and I’m a qualified Thrive Programme Consultant. Using the professionally developed Thrive Programme – a proven, evidence based, positive psychology training programme – I work with people from all walks of life, providing the insights and skills they need to change their lives for the better.

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