We fully appreciate that being able to return to New Zealand at this time of the world’s history is a precious gift. Having planned our journey a long time ago; it hasn’t been a case of having to rush back because of anyone’s ill health or other problem. Our reasons are legitimate. However, we’re aware there’s a multitude of stories from around the world, from those entering and going into Managed Isolation or Quarantine. The tips we’re sharing today are from our perspective only.
I’m not able to share suggestions for families, I have no idea how they’re coping to be honest. That puts an entirely different slant on this experience.
Ten Tips To Thrive
We’re a (mostly!) happily married for ten years, together for fifteen, couple. Barry is a New Zealand citizen, I’ve got Permanent Resident status. Barry has family here in NZ, I have family in the UK. Over there, we live on a 60 foot long, six foot ten inches wide narrowboat on the Inland Waterways. So to be fair, we’re accustomed to living together in a tiny space. The room we have at the Sudima is massive in comparison!
Prior to arrival, we did our best to research what it would be like for us during the 14 days of MIQ. Though to be honest, we didn’t delve too deeply as due to the number of changes in our originally booked flights, we knew nothing was certain.
Having been in MIQ Sudima Airport Hotel Christchurch now for almost two weeks, these are some of the tips for anyone planning a return, or have recently returned:
1/ Before you come, join a Facebook group for people in Managed Isolation. I discovered this on day 11 of MIQ! I suspect it would’ve been helpful before we came, though conversely a few of the posts and threads aren’t so positive so it may also have been off-putting (consider tip number 10). So balance that against your influenced mindset.
2/ Listen carefully to all the information shared by everyone you come into contact with. From landing in New Zealand, through to entering your hotel room. You’ll be exhausted after the long journey, but the people overseeing this next stage in our experience, are predominantly knowledgable and helpful.
3/ Read all the literature provided thoroughly as soon as you can. Then read it again after a good night’s sleep. Highlight anything useful. There’s likely to be amenities the hotel provides, extra to what’s in your room. Ask for things that could make your stay more comfortable. For instance, I noticed different pillows were available. I toyed with a lavender pillow, but opted for and obtained a ‘Tri-pillow’. It’s been wonderful. I wish we’d asked for a microwave immediately – by the time we did, they were all gone. The NZDF woman on the bus told us about hiring gym equipment. We asked the following day and thankfully got an exercise bike which has been brilliant. Others we’ve asked weren’t so lucky – so get in quick!
4/ Be clear about your food/diet choices. Even if you don’t ask at the beginning, if items are arriving that you don’t like, or want less or more of, just call reception. Importantly, I feel, if you don’t like the food tell them – don’t just moan unconstructively on social media. I prefer to believe that the caterers are doing the best they can.
5/ Moving on from number four, BE KIND! The people working in the MIQ facilities are doing a fantastic job. Who would want to be doing this AND getting a COVID-19 test every week (yes I know, there was a glitch in this but I’m sure it’s now resolved)? I can’t begin to comprehend the stresses they’re under, and the microscopic scrutiny they’re submitted to daily. Especially when there’s an election coming up and the opposition seem cruelly underhand trying to find anything they can to discredit the current incredible government (hard to believe I know!). The rest of the world looks on in awe of the leadership here – no-one is perfect but blimey, wake up any complaining kiwis!
6/ If you can get outside do. At least once a day. Breathe in the fresh New Zealand air again. Feel the sunshine on your face – the bits not covered with a surgical mask! Walk. Stretch. Say hello to fellow
inmates guests. We’ve had a few circular (two meters apart) chats with folks we met on the journey here, and a few we didn’t. People in MIQ alone can feel very lonely.
7/ Make the most of the free WIFI – go to Udemy and start a course on something you’ve always wanted to learn (there are lots for around NZ$20). Find a yoga channel you like and soothe your mind, body and soul (I’ve used Yoga with Adriene). Watch something on Netflix. Just don’t get sucked into Social Media which can easily influence your mood adversely. Zoom friends or family. FaceTime. WhatsApp. Keep connected.
8/ Accept where you are, the reasons you’re here, and that it’s for at least 14 days. Don’t fight it. If you start dissecting it and engaging in the ‘conspiracy theories’ prolific in the newspapers or social media, you’ll only make it harder for yourself. Trust that this is a positive thing you are doing for ‘the team of 5 million‘. Admittedly the recent resurgence has opened up some cracks that are being filled. No-one is perfect. But out of everywhere in the whole world right now, I believe without a doubt NZ is the best place to be.
9/ Following on from number 8, is reflection and gratitude. Feeling thankful for what we have is vital to our emotional well-being. Each evening take ten minutes to write down five things you’re grateful for from the day
“Even in the hard things in life, we can choose to be grateful”365 Grateful Project – Kailey Bartholomew
10/ Be aware of ways the powerful ‘confirmation bias’ has over what you see in the time you’re in MIQ – and beyond! This is, without a doubt, an ’emotionally charged’ experience. As a qualified Life Coach, I’m acutely aware of the ‘change your thoughts change your life’ stance. Without even trying Barry’s fantastic at this. He always looks on the bright side of life – it’s probably why one of his favourite films is The Life of Brian!
” … a person may cherry-pick empirical data that supports one’s belief, ignoring the remainder of the data that is not supportive. People also tend to interpret ambiguous evidence as supporting their existing position. The effect is strongest for desired outcomes, for emotionally charged issues, and for deeply entrenched beliefs.“https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias
Finally, the Wellness Team here asked for creative writing contributions last week. I edited a piece I wrote during the UK lockdown when I was doing a creative writing online course. I thought it might help someone let go and accept being here if they were struggling. The team printed it out and placed a copy in everyone’s breakfast bag the following day. How lovely. Here it is:
In Defence Of Stillness
“I find myself defending stillness. Especially now, confined to a hotel room in Managed Isolation. When many others around the globe have been forced to rethink their hectic lifestyles. To stop their unrelenting rushing. To spend time at home with loved ones, rather than strangers. No longer rushing here and there as if always heading to a life-saving emergency.
I defend the right to want to be with myself. To watch the wonders of nature, the changing weather. To listen to birds sweetly calling one another on walks outside. To see leaves starting to sprout on the previously barren trees. To feel a sense of peace as the magnificent moon changes her shape and size and brightness. To gaze at the stars twinkling light-years away.
To not have to go on buses or trains or planes for a while. But walk again, mindfully. Inside or out. To notice colours, smells and sounds.
Have they learnt anything, these human ‘beings’? Maybe, just maybe, if the time when the world changed continues for long enough, others will recognise the need to defend stillness too. And we won’t ever return to times past when all that mattered was growing the GDP. When people had no time to stop and stare as long as sheep or cows beneath the boughs.
Listen. Feel. Love. Watch. Just BE. Be a human being. Not a human doing.
How many will heed this urgent call for stillness? Is it just me? Am I alone in wanting, yearning, pleading the world to defend stillness? For people to wake up and realise the most important things in life really are PEOPLE, not profit? I hope I’m not alone.
But time, as they say, will tell.
Be still. Let go. Just BE …
You can choose to reframe Managed isolation as a gift. Admittedly at times a challenging one.
Whatever your reason for returning, or as a newcomer to Aotearoa, this is our chance to reflect on life. Where we’ve been so far. How we’ve got here today. Where we’re going, and why, on ‘release day’.
Relax. Reflect. Rejoice.
We’ll all get through this. Enjoy the stillness. Notice and appreciate the gifts. They’re all around you if you look mind-fully …“
And In Today’s News …
This morning was frosty! Jamie, Barry’s daughter, and her partner flew to Gisborne for Tom’s 30th birthday party on Saturday. We still don’t know if we’ll make it. She told us they’d had to defrost the plane before they could take off! Very different from the balmy weather the other day.
The breakfast loop was severed this morning – instead of the anticipated egg sandwiches we had savoury croissants. The delicious chia pudding, or tapioca I can’t decide, I relished. I’ve got another one for tomorrow as Barry isn’t so keen.
On our afternoon walk, we noticed changes in the saplings. Fresh green leaves appearing, more blossom flowering. There may not be much of an area to walk in, but you can still notice subtle changes and appreciate the beauty of nature.
In the Wellbeing Newsletter, finally, there was an acknowledgement that all MIQ guests at Sudima Airport Hotel Christchurch must wear a surgical mask and not a home-made one. The policy quoted is a CDHB (Christchurch District Health Board) Infection Prevention and Control Services one. For the last couple of days, two small paper bags with surgical masks in have appeared in our breakfast bags. So we won’t run out.
I know others are concerned about this, saying home-made ones fit far more snugly and comfortably. But we’ll just have to save those for when we’re ‘out’. For me, tying a knot at each side helps these fit better:
Just two sleeps to go now – our second COVID-19 test was taken this morning. It actually wasn’t quite as unpleasant as the first!