Tips for living in – shelter in place or semi-isolation

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Long before I became a professional dog trainer I was working as a professional chef.

I worked in kitchens that were conventional restaurants, remote camps in Baja, on motor-sailors in the Mediterranean, and at the South Pole. My love of traveling and cooking kind of all came together for more than a decade, and for the most part my work was in semi-isolated locations, especially in Antarctica.

My one contract at the South Pole was thirteen months long, nine and half months of that being isolated with twenty six other people, most of that time in polar winter with twenty-four hours of darkness, and no planes in or out. This was at the time when electronic mail was brand new, and a ham radio was the only way to call out, if the weather was good. Social media and smart phones were not even words in our modern vocabulary, and all cameras still used film.

But it turns out that I am made for that type of environment. Instead of crashing from exposure to semi-isolation stressors like seasonal symptom patterns, altering cognitive performance, mood swings, and problems with interpersonal relationships, I am that person that successfully adapts to environmental adversities.

Here are some TIPS to think about during this new Shelter-In-Place –

  1. A DAILY Master Schedule creates consistency and a knowingness, and should not vary too much. This takes both persistence and resilience, an internal grit of sorts. From your waking-time to your bed-time, a routine that is doable creates a smoothness of sorts, kind of like chop wood carry water.
  2. CREATE a Master Schedule and block out the following – These blocks are not negotiable, routine is important, so make them realistic –
    1. Work – either remotely or in person or looking
    2. Self-Care time – no phone or TV
    3. You and your dog time – work, exercise, play – no phone or TV
    4. Cleaning or chores – whether you have an apartment or a farm this should be daily
    5. Hobby or interest – allow 2 hours or a bit more a day for this creative interest – no phone and no TV
    6. Cooking – it is an act of love, it is good for the soul, and it is nourishing, for you and your dog. Whether you are new to cooking or well seasoned, this is a great time to spend more time in the kitchen – no phone and no TV
    7. Exercise time for you either in your home or outdoors in fresh air. If you are new to this, choose something doable to start and build up – no phone and no TV
    8. Connecting with friends or family either in person or remotely or with a letter – without other interruptions
  3. RELATIONSHIP stressors, whatever they are or however they come up, always ask yourself, will this situation/conversation bother me a year from now? If the answer is no, then learn to let it go and move on with your day. If the answer is yes, have a meaningful conversation, both talking and listening, and learn to let it go and move on. In a shelter-in-place or semi-isolated environment, little things can become big things, and you will learn a lot about yourself and those around you. But often times, it is a different way of handling social interactions, a keeping of the peace with honest thoughts, honest words, and healthy boundaries.
  4. MOTHER NATURE is vital to our very existence. To quote Dr. Roger Foutes, man is not the center of the universe, merely a part of it. Make time to go outside, get some fresh air, look around you, touch the earth, and connect. I think this is the foundation to our human experience.

I hope this helps you all in some way, there is an opportunity to dig deep and learn more, do more, from the most honest of places – Nancy

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