Iso-Lone: A Geek Guide To Home Survival : an article all alone in the light by: GF Willmetts

April 4, 2020 | By | 1 Reply More

As someone commented in the media, people who have already been practicing isolation from a stress illness have a heads up compared to everyone else in the world who are having to settle into isolation during this coronavirus. Welcome to my world. I give hermits a bad name.

For the past 14 years I have suffered from agoraphobia and extreme anxiety which comes out in a physical manifestation. When I leave my house, my fight/flight reflex goes into over drive, with my voice varying from a squeaky Mickey Mouse to a low whisper until I get home. I can either be wading through the tarmac or accelerate. Added to this a drug intolerance which extended into a food intolerances, which limits my type one diabetic diet even further. You don’t want to hear all the details or triggers, just enough to know I have to keep humans at a distance and haven’t been outside of a 6 mile walking distance in all that time. The worse effect is being hit by sunlight at the wrong angle and going semi-comatose for a couple hours. My geeky aspect did help me adapt to the situation and find solutions, more so as I’m unsocial not anti-social. As you’re aware of my analytical talent will realise, I tend to make a study of everything, including myself.

This article is more to address you people in the audience in how to adapt to our current situation with the coronavirus situation and some of you with families might adapt some of what I’m going to say. I’m going to presume all SFCrowsnest readers are geek inclined but I will presume you have a collecting habit and loads of hobbies. That’s one advantage over normal humans finding something to do with their time. We tend not to have enough time. Even so, coronavirus has put us in stressful times and even we have a need to go out from time to time. If you didn’t have stress before, you certainly will have some confined for a couple months.


  1. Get A Routine Going.

People like routine. You get up, have breakfast, go to work, etc, The odd holiday is to break up the routine but I bet even that feels odd for the first couple days. Sounds familiar? Even if you’re now working from home, you still have the travelling time to account for and I bet you use this to put your thoughts in order. A bit difficult if you have family around you. If you can, do this when you first wake up in the morning while you have fewer things to focus on, then do so then rather than later.

You need to find a routine that you can adapt to. You don’t necessarily need to force it into a pattern but be flexible enough to change it until it feels comfortable. Ensure you have breakfast, read a newspaper and do some of the puzzles if you can because it’ll get your mental gears working. I can plan my day doing my newspaper’s puzzle pages.

If you have a work schedule, mirror how you would do it at work only you have better control of the hours and take a break when you need to. Don’t stay focused on the same subject for more than 50 minutes because then you’re fighting tiredness. Something I do when I’m writing is play music in the background. It blanks out background noise and if you can’t remember what you played then you know your work has had your full attention. When you need a brief respite, the music can fill the gaps. It might sound unorthodox but it does work.

For those of you who just have idle time to play with, make a list of your projects, dividing into short and long term projects. This can vary from tidying or cataloguing your collections to creative pursuits. Completing your short term projects is a reassurance that you can get things completed. With long term projects, just do a bit a day. You can vary both with your time each day but it will establish a routine that you can fall back on to keep your mind occupied. As with those who are working from home, stop when you’re tired and don’t fret if you fail to keep up as it’s not a competition. It isn’t as though you have anything else to do for the next few months. Completing the short term projects will reassure you that they can be completed. Fit in some reading and viewing time as well as a healthy dose of news to keep up with what’s going on so you don’t get too detached from the outside world. Let it all become part of your routine.

If you have family, then ensure they have similar but different things to keep them busy and ensure they have time alone or a quiet hour to curb their energy so you can catch your breath. I need a regular power nap during the day, but the same thing applies.

Allocate only a limited amount of time each work period or day to a task. Giving yourself too long to do something means you will spread out the work. This is basically an application of Parkinson’s Law where you spread a task to fill the time available than fitting it into a shorter time. This might not always be useful to paid work where you are obliged to work so many hours but if the tasks are completed on time, then you’re demonstrating efficiency and allowing a bit more freetime with your family or to think and plan ahead for the next task.


  1. Break The Routine.

This is going to sound contradictory to the first point but don’t be afraid to shake up your routine from time to time, even if it’s a matter of trying things in a different order to see if it makes better use of your time. Being flexible will stop yourself becoming institutionalised. After all, most of you are allowed outside for a daily exercise. Use such time for thinking as much as walking.


  1. Learn A New Skill.

This tends to come under do something new. This can vary from learning a new language to learning how to draw or paint. Be patient whatever you choose, it won’t happen overnight and, even if it doesn’t work out, you will have learnt whether you can or not do something.


  1. Play Games.

This can vary from a computer game to playing monopoly with the family. It allows a different kind of downtime and, if you have family, giving them some of your time on a regular basis. Don’t always choose which game, ensure each family member has their own choice. Although I’m not into social media, Pauline Morgan suggested using that for contact, especially if you belong to subject groups. If one doesn’t exist for your subject, you could always create one.


  1. Give Yourself A Treat.

My favourite thing these days, no doubt reflecting my normal stress. Obviously, you’re limited where you can go but the Internet is a great way to find things for home delivery and spend time selecting it so it makes it more enjoyable. Considering the touch of unpredictability of when something arrives, it makes it all more surprising.

If you need to apply caution with cleanliness, strip the packing off and leave the contents for a couple days and wash your hands. Viruses don’t last long in transit and low temperature so should be safe to handle.


  1. Plenty Of Sleep.

One of the best ways to beat stress is to have some sleep. If you have a restless night, have a snooze in the daytime. I find my body dictates my need for sleep and resisting isn’t a good idea.

If you need to relax, try yoga breathing. Sit upright comfortably and close your eyes. Have you mouth slightly open and push up with your diaphragm which will let the air out. Relax and the air will refill your lungs. Do this slowly at first for about a minute but over time build this up for longer intervals. After a while, you’ll probably breath this way all the time. It is actually the correct way to breath.


  1. Don’t Forget Your Regular Chores.

It reminds you or normality and keeps the place tidy.


  1. The Art Of Distraction.

The key way I handle my stress is in the art of distraction, keeping my mind on other things than the one that will cause me the most problems. Worrying won’t make any difference. It is better to apply practical protection, knowing you’ve done the right thing than wondering if you should. Run a checklist as to what protection you are giving yourself and keep to it. As geeks, we have plenty of non-contact hobbies. Being busy is the best therapy.


  1. Treat As A Game.

I often confused my bosses when I had a job by treating lab work as a game but it did make even the most mundane task a practice of improved efficiency which actually gave me some idle time and no one could complain before I was ahead of them. Then again, I see being efficient as being better organised and it works its way thought anything you do..

Now apply this to activities like when you go out. The game is to stay 6 feet away from people which is essentially like playing a game of chess. Those of you who role-play will find this a cinch. The reward is survival which is a good incentive and see point 5 again.


  1. Motivation.

Being self-motivated is essentially geeky bloody-mindedness. We have a lot of things we care about, so use this as means to push you to do them.


  1. Stress.

This is one thing no one is immune to, especially when confined for any length of time. No one can tell how your body will react until it happens as stress comes out in all manner of ways. If you can recognise the triggers then learn to avoid them and get an appointment to see a doctor for a proper diagnosis.


  1. Survive.

The world is full of survivors. There is a need for you to belong to that group and a positive attitude is what will keep you going. Adversity should be seen as something to overcome. Have a laugh at a comedy programme or something is its own distraction and helps towards your well-being. Keeping happy has more benefits than being angry.


Remember this mantra:-

You are not a prisoner

You have a number

Just don’t be a statistic

Stay Safe

Keep space

Take Care.


Hope this can help some of you.

Geoff Willmetts

April 2020


My thanks to Pauline Morgan for a couple of the suggestions even if I couldn’t make it shorter but I figured you people need to know the reasons and details.

Category: Culture, Offworld Report

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About UncleGeoff

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’
If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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