Tom, Stu & You Podcast

Episode #13 - Tackling the Challenge of Self-Isolation

April 8, 2020

Today we’re tackling the challenge of self-isolation and figuring out how we’re supposed to be feeling during this time of incredible disruption. 


Key Messages: Don’t feel ashamed for being anxious, don’t judge yourself for not being as “productive” as everyone you see on social media, & communicate with the people in your life


We’re touching on a few ideas in today’s episode:

  • Self-development mindset during a pandemic
  • Feelings of shame
  • Adding stress to an already stressful period
  • Living each day with intention
  • Ways of minimizing stress and anxiety
  • What Tom and Stu have been doing to keep sane during self-isolation.


If you are feeling optimistic about this new time you’re finding yourself with, there are a few things we recommend you to consider doing. 


  • Meditation - now more than ever, it is so important to be mindful of the emotions you find yourself going through each day. Reach out to me, and I can share with you a free month of Sam Harris’ Waking Up app. It steps you through 10mins of daily mindfulness to help you better recognize the feelings we have as well as recognizing the noise within our minds. An important part of this approach, and one of the main reasons I like it so much, is that Sam encourages you not to judge yourself for becoming lost in thought or distracted. I’ve tried other forms of meditation in the past, and I felt shame at not being able to ‘do it’ whenever I’d realize that I didn’t just have a clear mind. 
  • Develop new hobbies and routines - morning walk, yoga, exercise, meditate, journal
  • Get your ass moving - whether it’s a morning walk, yoga, or a home bodyweight workout like one of these, moving is good for the soul and good for your body.
  • Connect with friends - there is something about chatting online with someone that provides a greater opportunity to be vulnerable. 
  • Skill up - if you’ve found yourself unemployed like me, with plenty of time on your hands, there are a multitude of online courses you can complete to build new skills that you can hopefully use in the future. 
  • Get creative - easiest, and most enjoyable way to relax (again though, it comes back to what we were saying earlier about no judging yourself). It can become a form of meditation in itself, as many people find themselves getting lost in the process. The closest I come to finding flow, that period of your life where time seems to pass in a blur, when you have absolute concentration at the task at hand, is when I’m deep diving into a new creative project. I can find hours and hours have passed without so much as a break for the bathroom or food, and you just ‘come back’ to the present moment, it’s dark outside, you’re starving, and more often than not, I find that I have a small smile on my face from just having done something I find so enjoyable. 
    • “Destroy the idea that you gotta be good at artistic things to enjoy them, that every hobby has to become smth you’re so good at, you can monitize it. A capitalist lie. Sing offkey, draw poorly, write badly. Life is meant to be enjoyed, not monetized. You’re not a product.” - @bookavid on Twitter
  • Learn a language - it’s good for your brain, your memory, your listening skills, and there’s a certain joy you get from being able to speak to someone in their native language. 
  • Read a book - read lots of books. Develop the ability to dive into a story narrative, lose yourself in the character’s world; it’s good for your imagination, it’s amazing for your language abilities, and it’s just plain fun to do. 
  • Just relax - whether you’re sitting in a hot tub drinking a beer, reclining in a chair watching the sunset, laying on the grass, napping on the couch or watching Netflix. Don’t let your internal stressors add to an already stressful period. 
  • Become your own best friend; you spend the most amount of time in your life with yourself, so get comfortable with spending time by yourself. Learn what you like, dislike, how certain things make you feel, how you react to certain inputs and situations, where your interests lie, what thoughts go through your mind each day that you normally ignore by keeping busy with external stimuli. 
  • Become better friends with your friends - once you’ve become your own best friend, seek to learn more about your own friends. Very quickly you’ll run out of surface-level conversation points as there aren’t any events to discuss, clubs to visit, relationship gossip to be had, and only so many Netflix shows to review. Start to ask questions about their childhood, their beliefs, their travel stories, what makes them nervous, what makes them sad, what makes them excited. Digital drinks - shouldn’t take a pandemic to connect like this


What Not To Do:

  • Read the news constantly
  • Spend all day on social media
  • Get into Facebook arguments with strangers (or people you know)
  • Judge yourself/feel ashamed for being anxious about the future
  • Spend all day worrying about the future


Further Reading:

'I Don't Think I Can Handle 18 Months of Isolation' 

Stop Trying to Be Productive 

Read Stuart’s full reflection in the show notes on our website

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