As the parent of an autistic PDA child who suffered autistic burnout I am more familiar the most with social isolation. My son needed time and space before he was able to go out again at all and even now he can’t cope with crowded places so we avoid them and he doesn’t go out every day. Being a very social person myself I learnt ways to keep sane and not resent this enforced solitude and to stay mentally and physically well. I thought perhaps some of these tips would be useful to others now we all have to think more carefully about non essential contact with others in this time of international crisis.Most can be done on your own or with your kids if you home educate or the schools do close for a period. So here goes my top ten tips;
It may seem impossible to exercise while stuck inside unless you have special equipment but I have tried many different things to keep fit over the years. Exercise videos can be good to motivate you but it doesn’t need to be that formal. From chucking on some 80s disco and prancing around the room to skipping with a rope, as long as you are moving about it’s all good. Using the stairs can be a good one but be careful if your children get involved as falling down them won’t do much for your health!
2. Get a hobby
Whether it is taking up baking, learning to knit or origami find a new interest now you have all this time on your hands. You may not be able to go to the shops or courses but you can buy and learn online. One of the most absorbing and fascinating hobbies I have found to date is tracing my ancestry and creating my family tree which my son has really got a lot out of too.
3. Practice self development
So from now on you are going to be spending a lot of time with yourself so why not give your mental health a service? Download some self help books, join a support group, get a counsellor who does online or telephone consultations, take up meditation or yoga for example. Whatever you want to do to work on improving yourself or just getting through this period mentally strong. There are some great resources out their for children too, including self awareness books and daily journals and printouts.
4. Love your Home
What better time to do some home improvements, makes some cushions, paint the walls, up-cycle a piece of furniture, frame some family photos and create a photo wall or just plan a new room scheme. If you are going to be spending a lot of time at home why not make it extra beautiful? Use what you have creatively or buy items online or measure, plan and create a mood board for a later project. Why not get your children to design and draw their dream room too?
5. Have Fun
If you are lucky enough to be walled up with family then dig out the cards and the board games, play musical chairs, charades or spin the bottle. Take turns telling jokes or seeing who can pull the silliest face, have pillow fights, movie night or build a den, anything that makes you laugh, laughter is the best thing. Look through old photos and share memories together. All alone? Not to worry there are loads of online groups where you can play cards, chess, scrabble or pretty much any game you can think of with friends, online players or against a virtual opponent. Pets can also be great entertainment, try teaching your pet a trick or teaching your dog to dance. Boredom and lack of laughter can turn into depression so don’t worry about being silly, it’s good for you.
6. Educate yourself
Why not enrol on an online course? There are so many out there for children and adults. There are also some fab apps for learning languages or maths for example which you can and your child can learn from, some of them are really good fun. Doing something mentally stimulating is good for passing the time and keeping your brain active.
7. Make the most of any outdoor space you have.
Spending time in the garden was one of the first things that I used as a self care tool when my son became home educated. The ways of using your garden are endless from just sitting out there with your backdoor open for 5 mins peace to setting up a bird table and watching the birds. Even if you have no garden a pot on the doorstep or a window box can give you an excuse to get some air and a bit of interest. Growing things from seed is cheap and an activity you and your children can do. Making wildlife homes out of scrap wood or creating a hedgehog door between your garden and the next or even building a wildlife pond or planting vegetables are all ideas you can try. If you have no outside space at all then bottle gardens or making a miniature garden can be fun, maybe even start growing your own bonsai!
8.Get social media working for you
Social media can be as positive or negative as you make it. There are some great, fun groups on Facebook you can join, just type your interest into the Facebook search bar and see what pages come up. There are groups for everything from baking to tortoise keeping! Like your local museum, art gallery or rare breeds farm page and so you can keep in touch with what’s going on or look for local history or wildlife groups, make your Facebook page fill with positivity not just the doom and gloom of world events. If your not on Pinterest get on there and create a page for your dream life or for inspiring things to try.
9. Write it down
Write journals of your dreams and ideas or perhaps start a blog or your own Facebook page. Sharing your feelings in this way if you are on your own can help get them out, writing a blog can be a release and even inspire others. It’s how I started, as a way to stay sane and share my experiences to help others in the same boat, to feel less alone. Maybe even have a go out your own autobiography or a memoir!.
10. Most of all keep connecting
However you choose to do it don’t lose touch with other humans. Skype, WhatsApp, MSN, telephone, text, social media, Online groups, keep making those connections, keep talking, keep sharing. Humans need other humans and lucky for us in this modern age we can keep connected without the need for physical contact.