Health People Stimulate and inform

Running the isolation marathon


As New Zealanders have been isolated at home for three weeks and they see the end in sight, they’re being encouraged to run this like a marathon.

The temptation when you are nearly there is to become a bit slack, says Caroline Loo, the Director of the Loss and Grief Centre in Invercargill.

Maintaining routines and structure are useful at this time.

“If you are running a marathon, the last part is probably the hardest, so it’s important to pace yourselves and stick to the game plan.”

If structures and routines are working for households, they should retain these.

Steady as she goes is really important.”


For the past three weeks, New Zealand has been at Covid-19 Alert Level 4, meaning folk are isolated at home, except for those carrying out essential services. This level may change in a week or so.

Caroline recommends breaking each day into bite-sized chunks, enjoying it and deliberately trying to find at least one positive aspect about it.

Being kind to yourself helps, as does understanding that you may be grieving because the world has changed. A ‘new normal’ will exist, but no-one knows how this will look.

Job situations, travel possibilities and other parts of life have changed or are unknown for many.

“Be self aware, notice what you are feeling and do something with those feelings.”

She says it is more effective to use your logical, thinking brain rather than your feeling brain as you work out your self-identity. Taking each day by itself aids this by providing structure and a sense of control.

What are the silver linings?

As this marathon finishing line looms, Caroline suggests reflecting on what the positives have been.

“There has been silver linings on those dark clouds,” she says. “Moments which have been really cool or positive.”

She tells a tale of staying up late with her daughter to look at the night sky, and the thrill of seeing the SpaceX Starlink satellite train.

As well as identifying the positives, people shouldn’t assume that everybody has had the same experience during this time.

Loss and Grief Centre Director Caroline Loo takes a walk in Invercargill’s Queens Park, which she lives opposite. Photo: Rachel Loo

For some, the household isolation will have been a glorious period that has strengthened their family base while, for others, it has been lonely and challenging or, even, torrid.

“We need to look for the positives but don’t assume all experiences are the same.”

If you liked this article, join up to our Daily Encourager Media Facebook page by clicking here

For further information:

To contact the Loss and Grief Centre Emotional Well-being Phone Call Service, call 027 443 8788, write to [email protected] or use Facebook

Read our story about this service

People experiencing any type of distress can free phone or text 1737 any time


Did this story bring you hope?

By becoming a Daily Encourager supporter, you will help bring hope and courage to New Zealanders. Get people excited about our country and our people and the amazing things they are achieving.

You can make an investment in hope for as little as $5.

Become a supporter
Community Foundations of NZ

Leave a lasting legacy in the community that you love.
Find out how your gift can give and grow at

Leave a Comment

Daily Encourager
Sign up to our regular newsletter highlighting the best things happening in New Zealand society.