Advice for navigating Covid-19 isolation

If you find yourself needing to isolate in the coming weeks, here's some good advice from Dr Michelle O'Driscoll
Advice for navigating Covid-19 isolation

GET INFORMED: The goal-posts are constantly shifting in terms of isolation requirements, testing advice and implications, for those boosted versus non-vaccinated. Picture: Stock

IT has been a long couple of months for many households, with isolations and restricted movements in full swing. Covid-19 case numbers were regularly in the region of 20,000 per day, which meant there was hardly not either directly or indirectly affected by the virus over Christmas or into the New Year.

Either they themselves had it, somebody in their household got it, or plans were changed due to the circumstances of others.

It’s not over yet, and in the coming weeks many more will need to self-isolate. We’re learning quickly about how best to isolate in comfort, and how to pass the time as painlessly (literally and metaphorically!) as possible.

Below are just some things to consider should you find yourself in this position.

Be informed

The goal-posts are constantly shifting in terms of isolation requirements, testing advice and implications, for those boosted versus non-vaccinated. The mind boggles if you try to remember it all, so know where to find the most up to date information – and are the key websites for such advice.

If you find yourself needing to isolate or restrict movements, keep an eye on it as the days pass – it can often happen that timelines will be altered as the situation evolves. Such is the nature of a pandemic!

Standard things to consider if you’re Covid positive include hygiene, ventilation, not going outside unless you have an open space away from others in which to do so, and wearing a medical or respirator face covering if you do need to be in the same room as a household member, and for three days after coming out of isolation.

Be stocked up

The number and severity of Covid symptoms experienced varies greatly from person to person. Some feel fine, others experience a minor head cold, and we know that for others the experience is not pleasant at all.

While it’s very possible to arrange delivery of things you might need for treating symptoms, it is wise to have the essentials to hand. They are all fairly commonly used items, so should you be successful in avoiding Covid, they may well serve you for something else in the future.

Symptoms vary person to person, but you should stock up on medicines for some of them. Picture: Stock
Symptoms vary person to person, but you should stock up on medicines for some of them. Picture: Stock

Paracetamol and ibuprofen (once confirmed appropriate for those taking them) are the best things for treating a fever or the pain of a sore throat, which are common presentations of Covid. Adults typically take a standardised dose as indicated by the product instructions, but children can be given doses based on their weight. This tweaks the amount indicated on the back of the bottle of Nurofen or Calpol, and optimises its effectiveness.

A good thermometer to track their effects on a temperature is important, and worth investing in for any household. Keeping hydrated is also vital in times of illness, rehydration salts can be sipped on regularly throughout the day.

Check with your pharmacist regarding the appropriateness of decongestants or cough bottles for different household members, as this is largely age-dependent.

Lower expectations

Particularly if isolating with children, soften the rules, set aside the high standards, and go with the flow. Remove the pressure to follow strict routines, or to be dressed and up early. Now is not the time to be harsh on yourself or your parenting skills. Getting through the coming days is the goal, however you need to do that.

If working from home, assess the need to take time off if you’re suffering from symptoms. This decision can be more difficult to make when your desk is in front of you, but remember that if you worked in an office or retail space, the decision would be made for you!

Comfort is key

Allow yourself and the family some of the nicer luxuries, like PJ days, time to read and watch television, catch up with friends by phone, or, if feeling well enough, some new or varied activities.

Boredom is the number one challenge in isolation if you’re not feeling the need to convalesce. Fill your time as best you can. If you are unwell, however, give yourself that chance to rest and recover. It can take weeks to feel like yourself again, so rushing it won’t achieve anything except raised stress levels.

If you do find yourself needing to isolate in the weeks ahead, don’t be afraid to lower expectations, draw on items and activities of comfort, stay informed and well stocked up. If you need anything, reach out for some support as others are happy and willing to help. This too shall pass, and you certainly are not alone in it!


Dr Michelle O'Driscolltarget="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> is a pharmacist, researcher and founder of InTuition, a health and wellness education company. Her research lies in the area of mental health education, and through InTuition she delivers health promotion workshops to corporate and academic organisations nationally. See

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