‘The silver linings of isolation that I learned from my 12 months in lockdown’

Having spent 12 months of her life confined to a hospital room, writer and consultant Lisa Cox is no stranger to life in lockdown. Here, she shares her top tips for reframing the negativity of COVID-19 isolation to find the silver linings.

I spent over a year in hospital after having a brain haemorrhage at age 24, and it taught me a lot about finding the positives in really negative situations and how to keep myself sane in isolation.

Before my 12-month hospital stint, life was pretty good. I’d been to university, played lots of representative sport, travelled overseas, moved into my own place and after years working in the corporate sector, I had just been promoted in my dream job. But suddenly it was just me and four white walls, with no smartphone to scroll through while I recovered from pneumonia, heart attacks, uncontrollable seizures, heart surgery and the amputation of one leg, all my remaining toes and nine fingertips.

Now, as we endure lockdowns, second waves and quarantine, I think back to what I learnt during my time in hospital and how I can apply the lessons to these COVID times.

I was scared, lonely and bored but one of the ‘tricks’ I applied early on was reframing the very bad situation I was in. Physically I was extremely weak, and this took all the mental strength I could muster. Each day I assured myself that positive things were happening despite very negative circumstances. Through COVID isolation, I’ve found myself looking at the situation through a similar lens.

Here are six of the ways I have reframed during COVID.

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#1. Rejoice for empathy

I’ve spoken with several people (mostly men) who are suddenly gaining empathy for their partner who spends all day at home with the kids. Prior to that there may have been a little sympathy, but now they’re experiencing it for themselves and finally getting an insight into many of the things their partner has known for years.

#2. Think of all the money you’ll save

Manicures, petrol, that takeaway coffee on the way into the office and frequent trips to the hairdresser are no longer an option for many of us. As your regrowth grows, so too will your bank balance.

#3. No more excuses

“I don’t have time” is an excuse we’re all guilty of employing for procrastination purposes – but now many of us can’t use it anymore! Sure, some of my work has dried up, but it means a whole new window of opportunity has opened up to get stuff done around home.

#4. A chance to pause

Your preference may be to do absolutely nothing with your time in isolation and that’s perfectly ok as well. Isolation also makes life a lot simpler – decisions about where to go, what to do, who to see and what to wear no longer need to be made.

#5. Newfound appreciation

Is there something about your workplace you usually can’t stand? Well, you might just find that the WFH life has made you rethink those pet peeves. Maybe right now you’d do anything for that annoying coworker to turn up at your door and start rambling about her cat again!

#6. Expectations are gone

That thing you were expected to turn up for, even though you didn’t really want to go, can be deleted from your diary with zero judgement. Plus, the world is finally learning what introverts and I (as an ambivert) have known for years – being comfortable with your own company is an invisible superpower.

Lisa Cox is a multi-awarded writer, presenter and consultant based in Australia. She is the author of ‘Does My Bum Look Big In This Ad?’ and ‘Media Muscle’.