10 tips to survive self-isolation

Sabina Muminović Last updated: 27 October 2023

Many lives have been turned upside down because of social distancing, quarantine, and other measures to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. Our genes can help us deal with the situation and make the best out of it.

Here are 10 tips which can – with the help of the knowledge in your DNA – help you approach the changes as challenges instead of obstacles!

Girl sitting next to the window holding a cup and looking outside

1. Stress is inevitable; your response is optional

During an event of such magnitude, some degree of stress is unavoidable. Identifying how we respond to stress – as warriors or worriers – helps us learn how to deal with it.
Worriers function better in a calm environment and can unwind with board games, a book, or a relaxing bath.
Warriors are opposites, very effective under pressure, and they can take advantage of this stressful situation and use their energy for daring projects. Rearrange furniture with kids, try couple acro yoga or try preparing a challenging dish!

2. Summer body goals

Suddenly you’re cut off from your gym, coach, and workout buddy. Daily DIY workouts sound like an ideal solution to keep in shape. But without guidance and knowing our body, we can do more harm than good. Our genes determine many sports-related characteristics and help us optimise our workouts.
So be consistent but allow time for recovery, always warm up properly, and get creative. Use stairs for cardio, chair for dips, a wall for push-ups, don a backpack or grab a bottle in each hand to increase the intensity, use kitchen towels for sliding exercises, and more!

3. Reign in your sweet tooth

If you’ve baked three cakes in the last two days, and there’s already barely anything left, it’s time to slow down! Your sugar cravings might be born out of boredom, stress, or even genes. Some people are genetically predisposed to have a harder time resisting sweets.
When you feel a craving creeping on, make sure you indulge healthily – with a bar of dark chocolate, fruits, plain yoghurt, or nuts. We’re only human, after all.

4. Wash, disinfect – and moisturise!

We hear it all the time: “wash your hands thoroughly and often!”. Your skin might not like that advice, even more so if you’re genetically prone to lower elasticity and hydration. Regular rigorous washing might lead to cracked, flaking, and altogether unhappy skin.
So besides washing, don’t forget to moisturise and drink plenty of water! You can also try other tricks for a genuinely content skin.

Woman washing her hands

5. Give your immune system a boost

A strong immune system is the best line of defence. Boost your immunity with healthy food rich in vitamin C (citrus and other fruits, peppers, broccoli), zinc (oysters, beans, seeds), and selenium (fish and seafood, brazil nuts).

There is no need to rob the pharmacy of supplements – eating healthy will do just fine. Here are some ideas:

  • replace morning coffee with ginger tea with lemon,
  • a fruit platter for a snack,
  • sprinkle seeds on your salad,
  • make fish and fresh vegetables the core of every meal, and
  • don’t forget to be physically active!

6. Workday to your taste – and genes

If you’ve found yourself working from home, use that flexibility to organise your day according to your inner clock. Your genes partially determine if you are a night owl or an early bird, and you can use that knowledge to get work done when you’re most productive – be it at 6 am or 10 pm. If that isn’t enough – when was the last time you had a chance to work in your pyjamas?

7. Quit smoking

Many people believe smoking calms them down because nicotine affects the mood and seem to temper anxiety and frustration. But since coronavirus attacks your lungs, and smoking damages them, smokers risk complications if they contract the virus. Smoking has a strong genetic component, which could explain why some people find it much harder to quit.
If you’re trying to limit or quit smoking, try these tricks: take chewing gum instead of a cigarette, wash your teeth before smoking, and every day, smoke the first cigarette one hour later than the day before.

8. Gin o’clock?

A glass of wine is fine, but drowning your boredom in alcohol will only lead to more problems. Your genes can make you more likely to develop alcohol addiction, and they also influence how you metabolise it. For example, if you metabolise alcohol less effectively, you are even more prone to its adverse effects. That fleeting feeling of relaxation and euphoria quickly turns into a nasty hangover. Our advice? Replace gin o’clock with chocolate o’clock. Dark chocolate is not only delicious, but research indicates it is also a heart-healthy treat. Not a bad trade-off, right?

9. Late-night fuel

Working from home might sound heavenly, but the reality is often less pleasant, especially if you have kids at home. Many decide to postpone their work until the evening, then coax their brain into a fully productive mood with substantial amounts of coffee. How well that goes partly depends on your genes. Fast metabolisers of caffeine will be fine, but slow can be left jittery, unable to sleep, and with a racing heart.
To avoid it, try going to sleep early and start working well-rested at the crack of dawn.

10. Stay optimistic!

Our last advice is a very short one. The more you think about it, the more there is to gain from it. So here it is, in the words of Chinese military strategist and philosopher, Sun-Tzu: “In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.” Now go find yours!

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