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BRB: Lessons from Extended Periods of Isolation

Shmuel Fischler, LCSW-C · April 23, 2020

COVID-19 has changed all of our lives already, whether you are working from home every day, currently unemployed or leaving the house for an essential job every morning. While the degree of change will differ from person to person, nobody is currently living their “normal life.” Creating structure in our days is essential to having the most normal experience right now, so how can you take ideas from the past to survive extended periods of isolation now?

Know When to Work and When to Play

Astronauts spend prolonged periods in isolation in space and also live in the same space that they work. One astronaut recently shared his tips for enduring extended periods of isolation in the New York Times, including the importance of following a schedule but also pacing yourself. Time is scheduled tightly in space, and work and life often interrupt one another. That is where pacing yourself comes in. You are in this for the long haul, so take time for fun activities and don’t let work consume you.

Plan for What’s Next

A former prisoner who spent time in solitary confinement also shared his experiences and tips in the Washington Post. One of the most critical parts of his survival during extended periods of isolation was planning for the future. There were times when he felt like his days would never end or change, but he reminded himself that “this too shall pass” and kept moving forward. Think about what you want your future to look like, or the great cup of coffee you will enjoy at your favorite coffee shop.

Write Down Your Thoughts

One of the most profound examples of a life lived in confinement for years can be found in the Diary of Anne Frank. Anne survived for years at home with her family in hiding, and much of that was due to her preferred coping mechanism—writing down her thoughts. This allowed her to track time, her opinions and things that happened every day and reflect. Jotting down her feelings also gave her time for gratitude, like noting how her family still had enough money to buy food despite the serious situation they were in.

Explore New Ways of Creating Structure With CBT Baltimore

If you are interested in seeking therapy in Baltimore, we’re here to help.  Contact the CBT experts at CBT Baltimore at 443-470-9815. We would love to speak with you.