by Georgia Cadoret (Well Life Tribe blog editor)
"What?!" I hear you cry. "Why would you impose such a thing upon yourself? You won't see anyone, have anywhere to go or be, you'll have so much time to kill and - oh..."
For all its negative connotations when you put it like that, isolation doesn't really sound so bad. I've been in isolation for seven of of ten days now due to my housemate being in contact with someone who tested positive. At first it came as a shock, a stark contrast to what had become normal life. My new job was in full swing, which involved getting home at 2am, snaffling biscuits to make up for nine hours on my feet in a restaurant, and spending the whole of the next day recovering before doing it all again.
Oh, and squeezing in a social life where possible -
and keeping on top of my laundry -
and making sure I did some sort of exercise -
and, and, and.
It's a vicious cycle, and one that I got so used to that I hardly noticed how tired and puffy I looked all the time. I hadn't realised how few vegetables I'd been eating, replaced with convenience food and enough on-the-go coffees to fuel every staff member at the G7.
I was getting by on as little as five hours sleep a night, telling myself it was enough to survive as long as I had my caffeine fix three times a day and a beer at the end of the night to wind down. Just writing about it has increased my heart rate.
So when I suddenly had the ten-day stretch of house confinement ahead of me, I was actually relieved. A holiday! After the initial couple of days of recuperation, isolation has provided me with so much more than 'just enough sleep to get by' and switch-off time in front of the telly. In fact, I haven't opened Netflix once.
The slower pace of life, where each day is stripped of the mere possibility of places to be, errands to run and commitments to see through, has given me the opportunity to reconnect with things that I love; the things that I do not just to fill my time, but that inspire and motivate me.
One of these things is creation. To sit in the garden and sketch or write for an hour, and produce something tangible to show for time spent in flow; or time spent in the kitchen, enjoying the process of trying a new recipe from one of my many dust-bearing cookbooks - a meal made fresh! - and even enjoyed sitting down.
My body has visibly shown the signs of de-stressing in this way. My face no longer looks like it's been sat on by a very large man, and my belly doesn't bloat out of nowhere from nerves. My sleep is deep and dream-filled from releasing my dependency on coffee, meaning I awaken earlier and refreshed. In other words, I feel like I've returned to a normal level of homeostasis.
This, surely, is what a natural, functioning body and life should look and feel like? The unmitigated contrast between my "normal" life - coping, surviving, squeezing - and this one - free, healthy and functioning - has presented me with a choice: I can live to work, or I can work to live. The answer presents itself more obviously to me with each passing, house-bound day.
If I may offer up a suggestion, it is to self-prescribe one day per week, to the best of your ability, to isolate yourself. You may have obligations, responsibilities, children or parents to care for - but you are nothing to them if you are out of kilter. It may be possible with a handy bit of delegation, a bit of calendrical reorganisation, to give yourself the gift of isolation. I promise there is nothing more freeing, more soul-igniting, or medicinal for your nervous system than being rid of anything to do for a whole day.
Isolation has allowed me to be: that modern term we have become familiar with but the meaning of which we are not altogether sure. My current (censored) definition, is this: the balanced flow-state of the body and mind when you have told the entire world to buzz off...
Georgia is a writer, Reiki practitioner, chef and Well Life Tribe's blog editor.