It’s a strange and uncertain time for all of us. Regardless of where we live, we are more connected than ever by the current pandemic COVID-19 (or Voldemort as I like to call it). At some stage during the outbreak, you’ll be sure to experience a version of isolation, social-distancing and strict measures to protect yourself, our loved ones and those on the front line.
While the overarching concern is the physical health of the world and doing what is necessary to keep us fit and healthy, our mental health is important too.
On writing this, I’m in week three of isolation. The day-job was fortunate enough to allow us to work from home a week before social-distancing became introduced in the United Kingdom, but I chose to isolate myself as it felt like the right thing to do.
Some of us are struggling to be apart from our families. Others may be in isolation with their families. Our isolation circumstances differ, but they are for the greater good.
I’ve noticed changes in my mood and productivity over the last three weeks. I tried to vlog at the beginning of the week but didn’t get past Monday. Maybe I’ll give it another go – let’s face it, there’s plenty of time to kill right now.
I think documenting my journey in isolation is beneficial for me. Still, hopefully, it will reassure some of you that we are all experiencing similar emotions and anxieties when it comes to our mental health.
My mental health struggles when there isn’t a clear cut routine and structure in my life. I don’t need every minute of my day planned out, but I do thrive on working set hours, being out of the house for a walk to clear my head (or to go to work) and knowing that I have the weekend to chill and catch up with myself.
In isolation, a routine has gone out the window. It’s a work in progress, but finding the motivation to do much of anything when you know you have all the time in the world to complete a task isn’t a positive outlook to have on routine.
I still get up and begin work at 7am, but I’m not in the office. That first hour or two of the working day is usually in bed. I make a conscious effort to leave my bedroom and spend the day in the home office setup that I’ve had for years because I freelance in the evenings—sitting at the desk? That doesn’t always happen either.
So long as I’m not in bed and work is getting done, that’s all that matters. But I do miss the routine and having the freedom to have one without restrictions. It’s frustrating, and those frustrations are not fun to work through in isolation.
When it comes to work, working from home has been my dream setup for the last couple of years. I work from home once a week on the day I have therapy, and to now work from home for the foreseeable is the best-case scenario (and I’m happy about it).
I remain the most productive first thing in the morning. Being in an environment away from office politics, loud and extroverted characters and a space that feels creative only fuels my productivity in the right way. My levels of productivity dwindle in the afternoon, which they would typically anyway, but I find that my mood too takes a slump.
Staying productive in these times is incredibly exhausting. So if you too are struggling to work at the same rate you normally would, you are not alone. We can still be productive, but not to the extremes of burnout. Mentally, we are adjusting to a new normal. It seems that being tired and having short bursts of productivity might be one of those things we (I) have to adjust to as well.
With productivity comes creativity. Whether its the day job, freelance work or personal projects, there’s more scope to be creative right now.
A lot of the work I do is around events that involve crowds of people. Given the current climate, such things cannot take place. Therefore, offering online activities allows for a refresh of artwork, and getting a little bit more creative to differentiate between established physical events and their new virtual offering.
During this time, I’ve taken on some pro-bono work to help out a children’s nursery with their marketing resources and video animations. It’s a niche I’ve wanted to get into, and it’s fueling my creativity in a new way. The same creativity has been spilling out into District23 too with a new t-shirt launched (shameful promo), increased skills in animation, marketing courses and the beginnings of book two (get book number one here).
If I get anything out of isolation thus far, it’s that my creative brain is on overdrive.
There are so many things isolation is teaching me. I could write about much more than the three points I’ve touched on in this blog post – and I will do very soon. After all, I’ve got the time to blog a bit again more regularly should motivation allow for it.
I hope you’re all keeping safe and well during these unprecedented times. We’re all in this together, and we will come out the other side as kinder, stronger and better people.