Opinion

Finding comfort in isolation

David Sanger

PR & Content Manager

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It’s been a strange couple of weeks adjusting to the new normal. Lockdowns, isolation, and no McDonald’s. It’s more than any of us really anticipated, and in the case of no McDonald’s, ever comprehended. When I think about the person who’s helped me most so far though, it’s not my wife, or my friends, but a helpful individual called Tom Nook. You may have heard of him. He’s a businessman who’s impacted the lives of millions of individuals. And he’s a talking Japanese raccoon dog. 

No, I’m not cracking up. Not yet anyway - there’s still time. But last week saw the release of Animal Crossing: New Horizons on the Nintendo Switch and Tom Nook is the Jeff Bezos type figure who overlooks the whole operation. It’s been my lifeline so far. Fishing, trips to the beach, socialising with friends, and a spot of gardening all when I’ve not been able to leave the flat. Perfect.

Whilst a friend has been embracing the escapism of Sims. “BIG NEWS,” she excitedly wrote the other day. “My Sims had twins!”

It got me thinking how my colleagues are coping. I’m someone who works from home a fair bit. Living in Kent means I spend half my time in the flat anyway. But the shock of the new with the arrival of coronavirus has meant this isn’t simply working from home anymore. Everything has been undercut with a feeling of fear and confusion. So comforts are key.

Here are a few of the tips from the team here on what they’re doing to find comfort in isolation:

  • Watching parties: a little community goes a long way. Even if that community watches terrible films. Irish comedian Alison Spittle got the #CovideoParty up and running shortly after the lockdown was rolled out across Ireland, bringing thousands of people together every night at 9pm to stream classics such as Beetlejuice, Dirty Dancing and … Burlesque. Whilst we staged a movie night with friends over the weekend, requiring multiple screens and resembling some form of inception with us watching them watching us watching a film. Whilst a colleague is taking it a week at a time - choosing topics with her housemate and watching documentaries, films or events associated with it. This week it’s F1, next it’s football, then literary. 

  • Dogs!: It goes without saying that dogs retain the power to heal all wounds. If like me, you’re lacking in a canine friend, then rely on your colleagues to supply photos of theirs. Or even insist on a video conference when an email will do just so you can catch sight of the four-legged legends. 

  • Kids!: as Nicola Kemp wrote in a recent email, “This week our house was subjected to a hostile takeover and I now have two new bosses; aged 6 and 4.” It’s not unreasonable to say that when school closures were announced, there was a mild panic across the UK. Especially when Prime Video announced there were 28.2 hours of Paw Patrol available to stream online. But many are embracing this new situation, with #PEWithJoe setting parents and kids up for the day as they now share a workspace, and parents accepting that impromptu miniature people streaking through the back of meetings is now a norm. As Nicola says, “a day is about so much more than how to manage interruptions. We get to work from home. We are the lucky ones.”

  • 6Music: we knew long before coronavirus that Lauren Laverne was a national treasure, but her 6Music breakfast show has been a lifeline for a lot of colleagues to keep the normality going. Her cloudbusting feature to keep the gloom at bay is a gift. Radio in general has a knack of being able to keep us connected, whether it’s this channel or another one. We’ve also seen a lot of Magic listeners come out of the woodwork during this time

  • Team sessions: as strategic comms consultant Emily Favreau said on her Twitter, a Zoom link used to be cause for dread, and now it’s the highlight of her day. It’s crazy how much seeing a familiar face, and sharing in a conversation out loud makes a difference. Whether it’s a meeting or just a chance to catch up. Whether it’s friends, family, or the unsuspecting flatmates and family members walking across the back of meetings in just their towels - it all counts to feeling connected

  • A tipple or two: BrewDog announced this week they’d be opening 102 virtual bars for people to still enjoy a beer and a chat. And it’s fair to say our first huddle meeting of the isolation saw a few wine glasses and bottles creeping into view on Zoom. Whilst communicating with others carries on, it’s important to remember the interactions should too. It can’t all be video meetings (please god don’t let it be), but having a drink and a conversation, even virtually, makes all the difference. If in doubt, channel the energy of the guy toasting multiple versions of himself in his bathroom mirror  

  • How the other half live (in isolation): Forgetting Gal Gadot’s cringy Imagine cover with celebrity pals, let’s for a minute celebrate the celebs keeping it real. There’s Sam Neill (star of Jurassic Park and no stranger to survival situations) reading a few of his favourite poems and even playing his uke, Rita Wilson displaying her incredible lip-syncing skills (even for someone not recently affected by COVID-19), and Patton Oswalt insisting on an impromptu stand-up from his front yard - and it failing to muster the same bonhomie videos of singing from Italian balconies have led to

But remember that everyone is different and now is not the time to be hard on yourself. As someone who likes foreign films (and how intelligent I think they make me look), I’ve been suckered into watching a Netflix series about a horse ranch and the dramas facing its residents. Not because it’s good (it’s not) but because it gives me comfort. The important thing is you stay happy and stay yourself during this time. Do that, stay safe, and the rest will take care of itself.


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