Coronavirus: 9 top tips to help you survive self-isolation

Coronavirus is a pandemic reaching far across the world. Many of us are being told to self-isolate for the first time and here in the UK we’re in lockdown. I’ve had to self-isolate many times over the past 2 years because of my health since sustaining a brain injury post-concussion syndrome so I completely understand your worries and frustrations. With this blog I’m sharing my best tips to help you get through this challenging time and survive self-isolation.

I’ve also done a YouTube video with my 9 top tips so if you find it easier to watch or listen instead of reading, you can watch the video below. Please note that I recorded this video on 18th March 2020 before the UK went into lockdown.




1. Remember this change is temporary and the Coronavirus pandemic won’t last forever

I know this sounds like a difficult pill to swallow. Your life has been flipped upside-down and the governments and scientists can’t tell us when this will end. Will it be a few weeks? Will it be a few months or even longer? You’re wondering how on earth you’re meant to cope and will your life ever go back to normal? Will this affect us personally? Will our family and friends be affected or, worse still, die?

You might be working from home whilst trying to homeschool kids, you can’t get hold of loo roll anywhere, you can’t do any of the fun stuff you usually do outside your home and worst of all, you can’t physically spend time with your family and friends that you love so much. And I don’t know about you but I’m a hugger and boy do I miss hugging my friends and family.

But believe me, as hard as life is right now, the global pandemic Coronavirus won’t last forever. Whether we have restrictions on our lives for a few months or longer, life will get back to normal. Human beings are adaptable to change. We might not like it because this is being forced upon us. It’s not something we’ve chosen and I totally get it, but we can learn to deal with change. You will find ways to make this work for you and once this is over you may even find that you want to make some positive changes to your life.


2. Use technology to stay in touch with friends and family during self-isolation

You might be in lockdown or self-isolating with your family or maybe you’re living on your own. I’m lucky that I have my Fiancé at home with me and 2 hamsters to play with but I can’t imagine how hard it must be living on your own right now. All the things that you usually do to connect with people you can’t do any more. No more trips to cafes, pubs, cinemas or gyms.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m a total hugger and social creature and miss physically spending time with people but there are ways that we can still connect. Make technology your friend and make a habit of picking up the phone regularly to stay in touch with your friends and family.

You might just want to text or phone but I find video chats even better. It brightens up my day to see a friendly face. WhatsApp, FaceTime and Messenger are all great for video chats. Messenger is so fun as you can add silly animated bunny ears and all sorts and play games too. If you want to video call with a bunch of people all at once, Zoom is a really good app to use.


3. Make sure you take time to exercise throughout the COVID-19 pandemic

Exercise does wonders for our health, both physically and mentally. Whether exercise was a part of your life before the Coronavirus pandemic or not, it’s really important to keep our bodies moving. In the UK we’re allowed to go outside once a day for the purposes of exercise so you might want to go for a wee walk or bike ride. It goes without saying that you should pay attention to your government’s rules and stay safe for the sake of your own health and others too.

There are other ways to exercise when we can’t physically get to gyms. You could try strength training at home using your own bodyweight, spend more time gardening, use a spin bike, do pilates or yoga. There are so many options for exercising at home and countless YouTube channels to follow.

Many businesses in the fitness and wellbeing industry are taking workouts online too. The gym that I usually go to but can’t right now (cry, cry!) Results Gym, Forfar are doing workouts live on Facebook 6 days a week with daily workouts at 10am Monday to Friday and a Weekend Warrior workout at 12pm on Saturdays. You can tune in for free and do these workouts whenever it suits you. Or do them live and get involved in the banter as we watch George Bertie put Steve Ferrier through his paces! I try to do a couple of these a week as well as a session or two on my JLL Fitness IC300 Pro Indoor Cycling Bike.


Anne Johnston on the JLL Fitness IC300 Pro Indoor Cycling Bike


I love going to Eileen’s Yoga and Wellbeing’s Restorative Yoga and Nidra class and I’m so glad that she now does her classes virtually. She is kindly offering some classes for free but by the way, her Restorative Yoga and Nidra is worth every penny. It’s become my new Friday night fave. Light a few candles, burn some incense and just chill in the comfort of your own home. Bliss!


4. Eat more healthy foods

I know when we’re spending more time at home the temptation to open a tub of Ben and Jerry’s and binge on Netflix is real but it’s not something we want to be doing every day of the week. You want your body to be as healthy as possible so that if you do catch Coronavirus or any other cold or flu then your immune system will be strong enough to deal with it.

We know that COVID-19 is affecting healthy people without underlying health conditions too, but I think now is a great opportunity to look at your overall health in general and see where we can be making improvements. So load up on your fruit and veg, folks, and keep the ice cream, crisps and sweets as treats.

You might not find everything you need in the supermarkets. Don’t forget to shop at your local businesses.


5. Use the extra time in self-isolation to keep your brain active and learn a new skill

I love a good Netflix binge (Schitts Creek is laugh out loud funny) but it’s good to find the balance and keep our brains challenged too. You could use this time to learn a new skill. We don’t know how long we’ll be in lockdown but imagine coming out the other end having learned something new.

Maybe now’s the time to learn a musical instrument that you’ve wanted to for years or learn to draw or get crafty. Even if you decided to do something for 30 minutes or an hour every day it would be great to see the progress you could make! Perhaps you’ll find yourself having to pick up a pair of clippers and learn to cut your own hair!

I’m using a little time most days to challenge my brain with Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training on the Nintendo Switch and I’m having a bash at learning to draw.


Nintendo Switch Lite showing Anne Johnston's brain age of 72 in the Dr Kawashima Brain Training game



6. Start writing a journal while you’re self-isolating

You’re going through a period in your life where there’s a lot of uncertainty, change and frustration. There’s a lot of emotions to deal with when self-isolating and journaling can help you process them and bring into focus what you want to achieve and what’s important to you. Getting your thoughts and feelings out of your head is a great way to help clear your mind.

It really helps my mental health to have a bit of a brain dump every morning when I wake up. I reflect on the previous day, think about how I’m feeling today and I write down at least three things that I’m waking up feeling grateful for. Practising gratitude has really helped me to deal with my brain injury and to accept a life changing situation. It doesn’t have to be big grand gestures. I find it’s the little things that mean so much more and make you appreciate life. Even on your worst days you can always find three things to be grateful for.

I also set my intentions for the day. And most importantly, I don’t beat myself up if I can’t achieve them because of my health or any other reason. Be kind to yourself, always.

You might want to buy a physical journal to write in that gives you daily prompts to make you think. Or maybe a pen and notebook will work for you where you’re free to write whatever springs to mind. I like to type mine in Google Docs so I can easily search and look back on things later if I want to.

Whatever way you choose to journal, there’s no right or wrong way. It’s up to you to make it what you want it to be.


7. Write a self-isolation “happy list” and do at least one thing a day that makes you truly happy

This might sound like a bizarre concept but when you’re going through a lot of changes in your life the little things that you can do every day to make you happy can have a big positive impact on your life.

Grab yourself a pen and paper, write yourself a list of what makes you happy and stick it on your fridge. Make sure you do at least one thing every day that makes you happy. You might find that the things that make you happy are different to before as your priorities change and you realise what’s important to you.

Maybe you want to create an uplifting list on Spotify and dance around your living room because music can make you feel soooo good! It could be taking 10 minutes to yourself to have a hot chocolate in your favourite mug and really soaking up that you-time and appreciating it. I’m having so much fun getting to grips with TikTok. Whatever makes you happy, I think it’s important that we remember to have fun too!


Scan this TikCode to follow Anne Johnston on TikTok



8. Write a to-do list for now and the future

I’m a big fan of lists and now is the perfect time to take action on things that you haven’t ever found the time to get around to.

Write a list of what you want to achieve in the short-term and then you could also think about what you want to do in the future once the Coronavirus pandemic is over.

I’m seeing lots of people spring cleaning their homes and I’m sure sales of DIY products are going through the roof right now. We can’t go on holiday just now so maybe you could do a bit of research and start planning where you’d like to escape to when we’re allowed to travel further.


9. Be kind to yourself and others

Lastly and not least I just want to remind you to be kind to yourself and others.

This is an unprecedented time and it’s scary for a lot of us. It’s really heart-warming to hear of people really looking out for their neighbours and loved ones that are in self-isolation so keep doing more of that.

For many of us this is the first time we’ve lived through an event that is affecting the world over. To me it feels like we’re fighting an invisible war. More than ever what the world needs right now is kindness and I think it’s so important that we look out for each other and just be kind and know that we can get through this together.


Over to you, warriors!

What helps you to deal with the lockdown and self-isolation during the Coronavirus pandemic? Pop into the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!

And don’t forget to sign up to my newsletter below to stay up-to-date with my blogs and vlogs and tips for living with a brain injury.

✨ Keep sparkling one day at a time! ✨

Much love and healing vibes,

AJ x