How to Protect Your Mental Wellbeing During Social Isolation

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I'm Jade Scarfone.
A digital strategist and transformation catalyst, merging a decade of corporate systems mastery with a profound journey of self-discovery. From navigating the high-stakes world of banking to making waves in high-ticket affiliate marketing, I'm now dedicated to empowering entrepreneurs through strategic digital innovations. 

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If you’ve been following me for a while you may know about my history with depression. Thankfully I was able to overcome it, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t times when I still struggle. Which is why I’m such an advocate for mental health awareness. And as the world changes so suddenly and more of us are forced to retreat inside, I wanted to share some tips on how to protect your mental wellbeing during social isolation.

Humans by nature are very social beings. We thrive on human connection and it’s scientifically proven that we need social interaction to thrive. Research dating back to the 1970s suggests people with weaker social networks actually die younger (due to any cause) than people who have more extensive social networks.

As the world changes so suddenly and more of us are forced to retreat inside, I wanted to share some tips on how to protect your mental wellbeing during social isolation.

So as we’re being told to self isolate and keep our distance, it can definitely take its toll on us mentally.

On the odd chance you do go outside at the moment you’ll probably feel a very weird vibe. People don’t really know how to act around one another. We don’t realise how much touch is a part of our lives until we’re told not to do it. Interactions in the world have become awkward as everyone tries to navigate their way through this new normal. Everything is very clinical. Wash your hands, don’t touch anything, keep your distance. It’s a very dystopian reality.

And at a time when there’s so much pain in the world, sometimes all you really want is a nice, long hug from a loved one. But right now we pretty much can’t even do that.

We can’t see our friends. We can’t see our families. Unless we live with them. For some of us, we can’t even see our partners. Mine is working away at the moment in a different state. Now our borders are closed and we don’t even know when he’ll be able to come back. Not to mention the stories I’ve read about nurses on the front line who have to eat, and sleep and live an entirely separate life to their families even though they’re under the same roof. Because that’s the only way to protect them.

As an introvert I am the kind of person that truly values my alone time.

So I must admit, when I first heard about the concept of social isolation it sounded quite appealing. But as much as I love my alone time. I also value connection with the right people. Sometimes I find events overwhelming, and if I’m around people I don’t like I prefer to just leave the situation and be on my own. And I definitely need my alone time if I’ve been around too many people for too long.

But what I do need is to be around people I can have deep, meaningful conversations with. People that know me, and get me, and I feel 100% comfortable with. And when I can’t have that, I at least like to be in situations where I’m around people, which is why you’ll often find me working at cafes. Even though I’m on my own, I don’t feel alone because of the hustle and bustle around me. This is something that really helped me stay sane when we moved to the Sunshine Coast.

In all honesty when we left Perth a couple of years ago I started to live quite an isolated life. My boyfriend is the complete opposite to me and will get along with anyone. But that’s just not me. And I struggled to adjust to this new location. I didn’t click with most people we met, and so I made the choice to stay home a lot. Plus I was alone a lot of the time because he worked away.

Eventually I started going to networking events, I got a job here, and I started to make a few connections with nice people. But still, I haven’t met anyone that compares to my friends back home.

Which is why I can whole-heartedly understand what you may be about to experience for the first time. And if sharing my experience can help you cope a little bit better then I’ve achieved my goal.

So, let me share how to protect your mental wellbeing during social isolation

These are in no particular order. Just a list of things that always help me when I can feel my mental wellbeing slipping. I’m in no way saying you have to do them all. Do what feels right for you, and you may find over time you’re called to do different things. As long as it helps you, that’s what matters here.

1. Have a daily set of goals to achieve

This can be as simple as going for a walk (while we’re still allowed to do that), doing some exercise in your backyard, making your bed, doing the washing, cleaning the house, cooking a new meal, learning a new skill, doing something creative etc.

Being able to set a goal and tick it off gives you a great sense of achievement and helps you to feel good about yourself. It’s also good to keep your mind active and healthy.

Sitting on the couch watching Netflix might sound appealing, but the novelty definitely starts to wear off after a few days. So having other things to focus on will help you to stay motivated.

2. Meditation and breathwork

If you’re anything like I used to be, you probably see meditation as someone sitting in a quiet room, playing calming music and saying ‘Om’ for hours.

But it can actually be as simple as just sitting in silence for a few minutes. Focusing in on your breath and being really present. This helps to stay grounded and calm. I recommend doing this whenever you feel especially worried or anxious, as soon as you turn your attention back to your breathing it helps you to feel at ease.

Another thing you can do is use an app that has simple guided meditations. Or look for ones on YouTube. These are especially good if you struggle to switch off at night and can help you have a much better sleep.

And Breathe - Photo by Max van den Oetelaar on Unsplash

3. Journal

This is by far one of my favourite methods. Ever since I was a little girl I’ve kept journals in one form or another. I always giggle reading back over my childhood memories (yes I’ve kept every one).

I have journals from all moments of my life. They’ve helped me navigate travel, jobs, relationships, being diagnosed with depression, and everything else in between.

And in recent years they have especially helped me work through big life decisions. Like quitting my job to pursue an online business. Living in Bali. Working through this crazy journey of entrepreneurship. Moving to the other side of Australia. Losing my nonna. Losing confidence in myself, gaining weight, and my journey back to self love.

I have journals for all different purposes and I would be lost without them. Writing in my journals has become a sacred daily ritual that helps me to stay grounded and on track. And I truly believe this is an exercise that can help everyone heal what’s going on deep within.

4. Read books

I can’t stress how valuable reading is for your mindset. Whether it’s a great fiction novel that transports you to another world, or a good personal development book. Reading is very therapeutic and a great chance to slow down and just be present in the moment.

As a kid I always loved reading, and this love continued with me throughout my teen years and into adulthood. But I must admit, as I got caught up in the busy corporate world and party lifestyle, I stopped reading as much. When I first started my entrepreneurial journey I got really into reading again and then I burnt myself out by reading way too much personal development stuff that it all started to sound the same and I got bored.

So last year I made a commitment to go back to reading for pleasure. I started reading novels again. And I found my love again. This year I set a goal to read 26 books by the end of the year (1 per fortnight). I’m already at 10 so I’m very much on track to accomplish this. I set no rules this year and am just reading whatever I feel called to read. So far it’s been a mix, sometimes I’ll read a novel. Other times I’ll read personal development. But I always aim to read first thing in the morning. Before I pick up my phone and get sucked into social media. This way I’m more in control of what I’m feeding my mind and I start my days off in a much more positive mood.

If you’re not someone who enjoys physically reading, perhaps you could try listening to them instead. There’s lots of great books available to listen to on Audible.

Jade Scarfone reading books on a bed at The Pink Bungalow

5. Listen to podcasts

This is another great option for people who don’t really love to read. You can gain a lot of value from podcasts and the best thing is, you can tune into them while doing other things like exercise, driving etc.

Personally I like to listen to them in the mornings. Because I often wake up before the crack of dawn (I’m talking like 3am – 4am) and it’s still dark. I’ll often put on a podcast while I’m still laying in bed. It eases me into getting up and makes me feel excited for the day. Then if I read a book afterwards I’m super pumped.

I tend to listen to podcasts based on mindset, business and online marketing but there’s ones on literally every topic you can imagine so I’m sure you’ll be able to find something you like.

6. Dance and listen to music

Dancing isn’t just fun, it’s really good for your mental health. As proven in this Huffington Post article.

One of my favourite pastimes when I lived in Perth was going to a good music festival, or gig at a nightclub. For me it wasn’t about the drinking or even the socialising. I did love being there with my friends. But at one point or another I’d always find myself losing everyone and just standing at the front of the stage dancing my heart out. I didn’t realise how important that was for my mental wellbeing until we moved away.

On the Sunshine Coast life is a little different. House music hardly exists here, no good DJ’s venture this way, and the festivals just aren’t our style. Every now and then Brisbane will get a decent one, but either my boyfriend is working away, or we just can’t be bothered travelling that far.

I found myself really missing festivals. Not because I missed the partying or sleepless nights. But because I loved the music and I loved to dance.

It wasn’t until I discovered a girl on Instagram who spoke about a daily dance party project that I realised how beneficial dancing is to our mental wellbeing. I realised I don’t need to go to festivals to enjoy music. I can dance around my living room and have just as good a time. Or I can dance around in my car when a good song comes on the radio. I can dance anywhere I feel called to. And I’m so grateful I discovered this girl because this simple act has brought me so much joy in recent months.

So next time you’re feeling down, put on some music and dance your heart out. I promise you, you’ll feel amazing afterwards.

Jade Scarfone dancing to music on a street in Maroochydore.

7. Watch an uplifting movie

Sometimes you just need to switch off, relax and feel good. And what better way to do that than curled up on your couch or in bed with a good film?

I tend to rewatch my favourites over and over because I know they make me feel good. Sometimes watching a new film can be risky, so if I know I’m in need of a mood boost I’ll resort to an old favourite.

Some of my go to’s include:

  • Grease
  • Dirty Dancing
  • Breakfast at Tiffany’s
  • Singin’ in the Rain
  • Pretty Woman
  • Anything Disney
  • The Notebook
  • Under the Tuscan Sun
  • Sex and the City

What are some of yours?

8. Cleanse your space

You’re going to be spending a lot more time in your home at the moment so it’s important it’s a space that makes you feel good. When you’re in a cluttered, messy environment it can have a negative impact on your overall wellbeing and make you feel weighed down.

So make an effort to cleanse your space, and keep it clean. You might even want to spend some time redecorating, moving furniture around and freshening the place up.

Fill your space with things that uplift and inspire you. For me that’s candles, salt lamps, essential oils, flowers, crystals, paintings, dreamcatchers etc. That way when you look around the place you will feel good.

Also, it may sound a little woo woo if you’ve never done it. But try smudging a little sage or palo santo. This is a ritual that originates from Native American civilisations and it is meant to ward off negativity, improve air quality, and improve sleep. I’m sure we could all use a lot of that right now. For a full list of benefits and guidance on how to perform the ritual properly read this article in Oprah mag.


9. Self care

Have a bath, put on a face mask, do your hair, give yourself a mani or pedi, put on some makeup, get dressed up nicely. Whatever makes you feel good.

Even if you are just sitting around your house, the simple act of putting in some effort into your looks will do wonders for your mood. Plus it gives you something to do.

Trust me on this one. When I first started working from home I was so excited by the prospect that I would often spend entire days in my pyjamas. I pretty much stopped wearing bras and when I wasn’t in pj’s I just lived in exercise clothes or loose dresses. It’s easy to fall into that trap of just wanting to be comfortable. But let it go on too long and you will feel like you’ve lost yourself.

So put in the effort, even if it is just for a few hours. It’ll feel all the more rewarding when you do get changed into those comfy clothes.

10. Document your experience

We are going through something that has never happened before in our lifetime. And everyone is going to experience things differently. So it’s a great time to document everything.

Whether you start a blog, a YouTube channel, podcast, TikTok account, or just keep it private in a daily diary. Document your thoughts, document your feelings, document what you got up to for the day.

Can you imagine if Anne Frank didn’t keep her diary? Her story allowed so many people to understand the holocaust through the eyes of a brave, young girl. And it inspired people all around the world.

A few of my friends in Italy have been posting daily updates on their Facebook pages. One shares all the new recipes she’s been learning and how her family is responding to them. Another is sharing a recount of everything she got up to that day, basically like a diary entry. Seeing these stories has helped me to see that things in Italy, whilst bad, aren’t as awful as what the news makes it out to be. And people are acclimatising to this new normal. They’re on about week 3 of lockdown and Australia is just starting to move into this phase. So it helps me to see that things will be ok and life can go on.

Your story right now could do the same for others. Sharing your story is a great way to connect with others who are feeling similar and they will find comfort in knowing they’re not alone in this. Right now, people all around the world are in this together and by sharing your unique voice and experience you have the opportunity to brighten someone’s day.

11. Go outside

I’m not sure what the restrictions in your area are, but here in Australia we’ve been allowed to go out as long as we kept our distance. This week the government has enforced stricter restrictions and we’re now limited to only being allowed to be out in groups of 2 and mostly just for exercise.

So I make sure that each day I go out for a walk. I’m fortunate that I live a 5 minute walk from the beach. This is my absolute happy place and was one of the main reasons why we moved to the Sunshine Coast, to be surrounded by beautiful beaches. Whenever I feel down I know if I go sit by the beach I’ll feel better. So now, I make a conscious effort to go walk to the beach every morning.

You might not be able to walk to the beach. But I still encourage you to get outside. Go to a park, a nature reserve, a national park. Listen to the sounds of nature, breathe in the fresh air, look at the clouds in the sky, and just appreciate everything that is around you.

12. Eat healthy

I can’t stress this one enough. I know what it’s like to feel lonely and bored at home. Even though I had a business to focus on, I still found myself going to the fridge way too much.

And because I wanted to spend all my time on my business I formed bad eating habits. I preferred to order takeaway rather than cook. I would snack all day long. Stress eating when things weren’t going right in my business and emotional eating because I felt lonely and sad. I did learn to cook but it was all the hearty Italian meals that I grew up loving. Lots of pasta, bread and rice. These foods brought me comfort being away from family and home.

But in the long run this took a heavy toll on me. I lost confidence in myself and developed a lot of negative self talk after gaining lots of weight. Eventually I decided enough was enough and in November last year I made a decision to get healthy again. But I don’t want you to have to go through that.

So this is not a time to form unhealthy eating habits. If cooking is not your strength subscribe to a meal delivery service. Or you could always use this extra time to learn to cook. A service like Hello Fresh is great because they deliver fresh ingredients along with simple to follow recipes. The meals are quick and easy and taste delicious. And they mix it up every week so you won’t get bored. If you follow me on Instagram you’d know how much I love their meals.

I also found these supplements and shakes incredibly good for flooding my body with nutrients and getting me back on track.

13. Exercise

Gyms might be shut but that doesn’t mean you have to stop exercising.

When we moved to the Sunshine Coast I used the excuse that none of the gyms here were like my one back in Perth. I sold my car before we moved here as I thought that would give me motivation to go walking everywhere, but I didn’t like the area we first lived in and so I used that as an excuse not to walk.

If you already love exercise then this is usually a pretty easy one to maintain. But if you’re like me and it takes a lot for you to enjoy it, then all I can say is keep trying until you find something you like.

Eventually I found a gym that’s really similar to the one I loved going to in Perth. Obviously I can’t go there now, but because I’ve gotten back into the habit and I know how good exercise makes me feel, I’m more motivated to keep up my healthy regime. There’s been a surge in at home workouts being posted all over social media now that personal trainers and gym owners aren’t able to train their clients in person. And most of them are providing this information for free.

So if you don’t know what to do, I highly recommend finding someone you like online and following their routines.

Don’t know where to start? My current trainers are sharing lots of great value on their Facebook page. My personal trainer from Perth is also sharing heaps of great value on his Instagram page. But I’m sure if you look hard enough you’ll find someone you love.

14. Join uplifting Facebook communities

At a time when we’re having to spend a lot of time alone, people are wanting to feel more and more connected.

A great way to stay connected and inspired is to join Facebook communities of people with similar interests. I first discovered the joy of Facebook groups when I started my online business. And now I’m in so many I’ve lost track. But there’s a few I check in on a daily basis because they’re full of content that uplifts and inspires me.

Most of the groups I’m in are entrepreneurial or travel related. But I’ve also recently been added to a lot of mindset, positivity based ones which is just what we need right now.

You can easily search for groups by typing a topic into the search bar in Facebook and it will list a range of different groups.

If you’re looking to join an uplifting community of women you may also wish to join mine.

person using MacBook Pro and holding cappuccino - Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

15. Arrange Zoom or House Party catch ups with people

Call me crazy but I’m actually loving that everyone is in the same boat now. Before when I was feeling lonely and isolated it was hard for me to feel connected to my friends. They were in Perth or other parts of Australia, or even other parts of the world. And they were all busy leading their own lives.

But now that we’re all being forced to slow down, they’ve all got more time. Last week I had fun chats on the House Party app with my sister and cousin, and my whole family has got on board with it.

And my friends and I have had coffee catch ups and we’re even planning a dinner date via Zoom. When they would message our group chat about catching up for coffee in real life I’d feel pangs of loneliness and feel sad I wasn’t there. But as soon as they started talking about catching up over Zoom I got so excited because it’s something I could join in on.

This is also something I’ve always loved about my online business. Especially when I was heavily involved in affiliate marketing and had a big team. Our weekly Zoom calls were a big highlight of my week because I felt connected and you can chat just like you would in real life so it’s a great way to curb the feelings of loneliness.

16. Get creative and learn a new skill

Remember all those things you said you never had time for… what if this is your chance to try them out?

Maybe you wanted to learn to paint, to draw, to create pottery.

Or you wanted to learn to cook, to sew, to bake.

Maybe you wanted to learn macrame, or to make candles, or jewellery.

Or you wanted to learn an instrument, to dance, to sing.

Maybe you wanted to learn how to start an online business.

Guess what…

Maybe this is your chance to do all of those things. And at the end of it, maybe you won’t have just discovered a new hobby, but a dream business idea. Have fun! This is your moment to shine.

And when you’re keeping your mind active, and being creative it’s great for your mental health. Forbes confirmed it right here.

17. Limit your time on social media/watching the news

I can’t stress this one enough. It may sound weird coming from someone with a degree in Journalism, but please trust me on this one.

Feeding your mind with negativity does not help anyone. And that’s pretty much all the news is. And when you’re constantly hearing bad news about the same topic all it does is cause unnecessary stress and fear. We know there’s a bad virus in the world right now, we know it’s causing sickness and deaths. But watching the news incessantly for the latest updates isn’t going to change the situation.

And you can’t control what’s happening out there, so what’s the point of continually consuming it? Whether you watch it or not, it’s still happening and there’s nothing you can do about it. What you can do is follow the guidelines, do your bit to stay inside as much as possible, practice good hygiene etc. You can’t control what’s going on in the world, but you can control what’s going on in your mind.

Still don’t believe me? Here’s a Time article that backs me up.

If you want to stay up to date my recommendation is to choose one credible news source. Gain your information once per day, then go about your day as normal. And do any number of other things I’ve listed to keep your mind active and in a positive state.

And when it comes to social media, remember you get to choose what you consume. So if people are spreading fear and negativity. Especially right now, simply unfollow them or hide their content. The better you feel, the more you can continue to spread love and positivity to those around you. And that’s what the world needs right now.

18. Practice gratitude

Even when times seem tough there’s always something to feel grateful for. Like right now, instead of feeling annoyed that we have to stay indoors, we could reframe it to be grateful we have a roof over our heads and are protected.

Instead of feeling upset that we can’t see our friends and family we can reframe that and express gratitude for technology that allows us to stay connected. Can you imagine if this happened to us before the internet and social media really took off? How would we have coped then?

Instead of feeling upset that we can’t travel, go clubbing, go to work etc. we could reframe it and express gratitude for all the extra time we have to do the things we’ve always wanted to do but didn’t have the time for.

Expressing gratitude allows you to focus on the present and appreciate what you have now rather than what you don’t have and think you need. It also creates positive emotions like joy, love, and contentment which has proven to suppress negative emotions such as fear and anxiety.

When we look around, there’s really so much to be grateful for each day. I’ve spoken about how much I love my journals. Well my gratitude journal is definitely one of my favourites. I’ve been keeping one of these on and off for the last few years. My current one I’ve been writing in daily since September 2019 and it has done wonders for helping me to attract more and more great things into my life. If you only keep one journal, I highly recommend having a gratitude one. There’s also lots of groups on Facebook that encourage daily gratitude so if you preferred you could join one of those.

But when times are uncertain and there’s so much negativity going on, those that take the time to look for things to be grateful for will definitely be far better off.

Today I am grateful book - Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash

19. Cuddle a pet

Like I said earlier in the piece, humans crave touch and physical connection. So at a time when we’re limited on how much of that we can have, a great alternative is to cuddle our pets.

When we first moved to the Sunshine Coast and Freddie started working away he knew I was getting lonely and upset. So we decided to get a kitten. And now, even though I may be alone, I don’t feel nearly as lonely because I have Rafiki around to keep me company.

He makes me laugh with his antics, he cuddles me, and he makes me feel safe.

And it’s scientifically proven that cuddling your pet helps to relieve anxiety and depression. It stimulates the release of the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin, which help relieve depression and may make you feel happier. It creates a calming effect and helps you focus on the present moment.

20. Go watch a sunrise or sunset

I don’t know about you, but I just find these times of day so calming. The way the sky lights up, the fact that every sunrise and sunset is completely different.

It’s always a great time to be mindful and present in the moment. And it’s so inspiring to see the sun beaming each day. Even when the sky is cloudy and grey, the sun will rise and set. Which always gives me hope. Each day we get a chance to start fresh. And even on a dark day, we can choose to shine.

Right now, it might seem like the world is shrouded in darkness, but the light is there if you choose to look for it. And the more you protect your mental wellbeing, the more you can show up and beam your own light to help and inspire others around you who need you.

Jade at the beach during sunset

And there you have it, my top tips for how to protect your mental wellbeing during social isolation.

I really hope you found this article useful and if you did please feel free to share. I’ve done a lot of work to maintain a positive outlook. And in this time of darkness, I’m choosing to look for the light and to trust that the universe is working in our favour.

I believe a lot of good is coming out of this situation. And I hope this post will help you to find your peace and see that too.

Love Jade

As the world changes so suddenly and more of us are forced to retreat inside, I wanted to share some tips on how to protect your mental wellbeing during social isolation.

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