Isolation is a concept that British sailor Alex Thomson is all too familiar with. When Thomson sails solo, non-stop around the world in the Vendée Globe, he must solve problems, overcome challenges and remain mentally strong all without the support of anyone else around him.
Using that experience, here Alex shares his advice on staying positive, even in the most challenging of times.
- Separate Loneliness and IsolationTrain your mind to make the distinction between loneliness and isolation. Are you isolated at home? Yes. But are you lonely? No. You can’t possibly be lonely because you have loved ones at the end of the phone, thinking of you. It’s sometimes easier when we’re able to separate those two emotions.
- Turn Negatives into PositivesTo help make this period more manageable, try to view it as a privilege, a rare chance to spend uninterrupted time with those closest to you, which you probably won’t ever have again.
- Introduce StructureIt’s important to introduce routine. But remember, these are exceptional circumstances and achieving everything we normally would in a day is not going to be possible. So don’t set yourself up to fail.
- Set Yourself GoalsGive yourself realistic goals each day, and work towards those. If you start to feel overwhelmed, change them, make them smaller. Every time you achieve one, you’ll feel a little bit better.
- Change Your FocusWhen you start to feel overwhelmed, transfer your focus away from whatever it is that you’re looking at – such as the TV or computer – and switch to a peripheral focus. Take a step back and alter your perspective. This can help to de-emotionalise the moment.
- Remember, This is not foreverWhen I race alone in the Vendée Globe, I try to persuade myself that 3 months is not a long time. Try to do the same. Although we might not know when social distancing will end, most of us would not consider a matter of weeks or months a considerably long time.
- Don’t Be Too Hard on YourselfIf you don’t manage to achieve everything you wanted to in a day, or you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, try not to be too hard on yourself. Take each day as it comes and slowly things will start to get easier.
- SmileHappy people perform better. And – although it may sound very simple – the easiest way to feel happy is to look happy. So even when times are tough, try to smile. And you may just find some sense of happiness in that moment.