• Mon, 13, Apr, 2020 - 5:00:AM

Let’s not pretend that self-isolation is easy

The messaging around COVID-19 has been crystal clear: stay at home. Don’t interact with others. It’s simple and easy to follow and everyone should be following it.

But that doesn’t mean the lockdown is easy to deal with. Maybe I’m trying to justify weird crying spells and mood swings and the fact that I miss being able to pat our neighbour’s cats, but I think it’s completely valid to recognise that lockdown does suck.

COVID-19 is stressful and it means we can’t see some of our favourite people in person. That is not a good situation, by anyone’s measure. New Zealand is taking a safe, proactive approach to deal with the virus and I’m glad that we are. But I’m surprised at our reluctance to acknowledge that actually, staying inside is not a piece of cake. It’s not a holiday. And we shouldn’t act like it is.

Social isolation is hard. I enjoy talking to my friends on video chat, sure. But I’d still rather be able to see them. It’s nice that we can all interact online, but we can’t just transport our entire lives and play them out within our homes. The plans we would usually look forward to have been cancelled. Holidays and concerts and social events are all off the table.

Added to that, we’re stuck in one place. I don’t know if I’m the only one who has been longingly scrolling through photos of beaches on Instagram, but my body has suddenly become hyper-aware that I’m stuck at home. It’s partly psychological. I don’t even go to the beach that much anyway, but now that I definitely can’t go to the beach, my brain has decided that I really really want to sunbathe on the sand and go for a swim in the water.

Then, in the background of all this, there is constant underlying stress. Will the lockdown lift after four weeks? Will someone I know contract the virus? Will the predictions about our proactive approach prove to be true?

That uncertainty creates stress. It is healthy for us to admit that and talk to each other about how we’re feeling. More New Zealanders have been reaching out to get support for their mental health during the lockdown. This is not a normal situation.

I think that during hard times, New Zealanders have a tendency to pretend everything is okay. We’re stoic, we don’t complain, we power through, we’ve got this. Social media commentators (admittedly, not exactly role models for society) in particular seem to be outraged that anyone would dare complain about their own situation when others have it worse.

But you’re allowed to say, actually, it is hard for me not to see my partner/friends/colleagues for an undefined period of time. That doesn’t take away from anyone else’s experience in this crisis.

If you’re calling out others for “complaining”, or even just talking, about how they feel at this time, please get over yourself. Admit to yourself: actually, this does suck. There is a reason we don’t voluntarily confine ourselves to the house all the time.

I’m not saying leave the house and have parties with your friends. But it’s okay to admit that you want to do those things. Just because we need to stay at home doesn’t mean we have to act like everything is fine.


  • Self-isolation /
  • COVID-19 /
  • Mental Health /
  • New Zealand /
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