Across the world, people are finding themselves in an unprecedented situation, forced to stay at home with limited outings and isolation from friends and family. For most, this social distancing and isolation is a new concept, but for adventurers, it's a normal part of expedition. 18 months ago, myself and two friends spent 62 days on the Pacific Ocean, in a 24ft ocean row boat with no internet, a living space the size of your bath, rationing of toilet paper and the nearest people to us often the astronauts on the International Space Station. Here's five tips for dealing with social distancing and isolation to keep your spirits high:
1) GET SOME ROUTINE IN YOUR LIFE
Set an alarm, get changed out of your pyjamas and create a daily routine. If you are allowed out the house, plan when and where you are going to go for you daily exercise. Work out what jobs you can do round the house, what food you are going to eat and if you are fortunate enough to be working, when you are going to take your lunch break. Routine was so important for us, our days were broken into three hour blocks, either rowing or resting/doing boat chores. But by having this routine, you stay productive, have a change in scenery often, and boredom is less likely to set in!
2) KEEP IN CONTACT WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY
Speaking to friends and family can bring a massive boost to moral. We were limited to 180 character texts, emails once a week and a very expensive satellite phone, but receiving a message or a call had the ability to turn a bad day into a great day. Right now from your mobile or laptop you can video call, see people's faces and keep in contact. There is nothing better than receiving a message or a call when you are at your lowest, so for those at home with friends and family, remember to check in on those who are living alone! I know it's not the same as being in the same room or the pub with those people, but talking, laughing and catching up is sure to bring your mood right up from the comfort of your living room!
3) RESOLVE CONFLICT EARLY
It's likely that you haven't had to spend this much time with a very small amount of people in a small space. Things that never annoyed you before will probably start grating on you now, including how those around you (both at home and on social media) are acting, what they are saying and what they are doing. It's normal to want your own space, do your own thing, get out the house for some fresh air alone and when everyone is piled on top of you, things can start to get a bit stressful. On the boat we had an agreement to resolve any issues as soon as they annoyed us and it was one of the best things we did. Someone hadn't thrown their food packet away and just left it on deck - rather than watch them do it day after day and allow it to annoy you, raise it with them straight away. We quickly came to realise that the things that annoyed us about each other were things the person didn't even realise they were doing. Rather than letting it build up and up we resolved the conflict early, occasionally with a slightly awkward conversation, but it meant we got off that boat laughing and smiling and good friends! Make sure you give each other space to be alone as well - all three of us agreed our favourite shifts were those we rowed alone. Not because we hated rowing with each other, but purely because in a situation where we were constantly together in a very small space, it gave you that hour to be alone, think and have some space.
4) CONTROL THE CONTROLLABLES, DON'T PANIC ABOUT WHAT YOU CANT CONTROL
Once you realise you can't control everything you will be in a much better place. There are lots of things you can control, and for those you can, plan, use your best judgement and ensure you do everything possible to reduce your anxiety. But some things you have no control over at all, and coming to terms with that will make the next few weeks much more relaxing. We could control (mostly) the direction we rowed in and how much effort we put into each stroke, but we couldn't control the weather. We would have days of big seas and wind in the wrong direction which caused endless frustration, but once we came to terms that we couldn't control the sea state or wind direction and we had to just cope with the conditions as best we could, everything became much easier. Some days we would row 70km. Other days we would row 25km. It's all a journey and you have to take the good with the bad and try and find the positives in each day! A calm, flat, but very slow day meant we could swim and clean the boat. A high wind, big sea day meant spending most of your row shifts screaming at waves and getting drenched, but often making much better mileage. Control the controllables, let go of the things you can't control!
5) KNOW THAT AT SOME POINT, IT IS GOING TO END
I promise, this will end. With all the media stories going around, it might feel like this will never end, that lockdown will last for ever and normality will never resume, but it will. It's impossible to know when that might be (read above point about not trying to control the uncontrollables) but it won't last forever. We spent hours pouring over our GPS, working out how many days left we were likely to have, what speed we needed to average to get into Hawaii on a certain day, and all this did was make the days when we weren't able to hit that average speed drag ALOT. There is always an end point, but that end point is a result of lots of different things. The easiest way to make that end point come quicker is to follow the guidance being given out by the government, follow the rules and be responsible. Getting to Hawaii was the result of three of us working together as a team - we wouldn't have got there without each other and without working as a team, that journey would have taken us a lot longer.
It's important to remember that everyone is going through the same thing, everyone will have their own worries and concerns, and over the next few weeks everyone will be in high and low periods at different times. Be kind, support each other, and remember it will end.
Want to follow my adventures and expeditions? Head over to Instagram and follow along @cazzlander.