Isolation (Part 16)

Posted by Jeremy Windsor on May 10, 2020

With countless 8000m expeditions under her belt we that thought emergency physician Dr Monica Piris would be well placed to offer us some advice on how to cope with the social isolation that this pandemic has caused! Here's what she told us,

"Before I start I’d like to acknowledge that a lot of the readers of this blog are actually health care workers who are working more than usual and don’t have endless hours of nothingness to fill. They’re probably sweating their guts out behind an inadequate mask (if they’re lucky enough to have one) and dealing with the shit-storm directly in front of the fan itself. To them I apologise for not being grateful for the small mercy of being confined at home. I’d also like to say that I feel decidedly unqualified to offer advice on this topic. I’m in awe of the number of people able to channel positivity, energy, and motivation to learn new skills, perfect existing ones and generally achieve something remarkable during this time. I’m not one of them … so this post goes out to all those of you who are feeling not only a bit anxious about this sudden and immense change in how we do life, but who in addition to that, are beginning to feel a bit inadequate in the positivity, productivity and motivation departments. You are not alone!


5 Things I do daily during confinement that I wish I didn’t…


- check the news a gazillion times a day.

- pore over graphs and lines and curves that actually register changes on, at most a weekly basis, but definitely not an hourly one.

- try and work out what the numbers actually mean.

- drink 4 times more coffee than usual.

- wake up and allow myself to have the thought “maybe it's not real” every morning.


 5 Things I don’t do during confinement that I wish I did…

- read only good quality, well researched and well written news about covid-19 AND OTHER STUFF! 

- make amazing sourdough bread (even peoples’ dogs seem to be doing this).

- an hour of really impressive yoga (because everyone who doesn’t actually have COVID-19 does).

- get back to learning German on Duolingo.

- have an attention span exceeding 5 minutes.

Baking your own sourdough - a step too far?


My partner is a professional alpinist and a mountain guide. Most of our friends ask how David is doing, assuming that because he’s an outdoor athlete who usually spends hours every day outside climbing or training, he’ll be tearing his hair out. Actually, he’s way better at this than I am. He says he’s gone into “Base Camp Mode” drawing on his experience of countless expeditions where the majority of time is spent at Base Camp (BC), confined to a small area in incredibly remote places where there is nobody apart from 2 or 3 team members to “social distance” from. On these expeditions, they are at the mercy of the weather, the conditions on the route, their acclimatisation and the alignment of all 3 things to allow them to climb. For the most part these things are out of their control and they spend many, many days in BC just waiting. So these are his tips to manage confinement:


– have a regular meal timetable and stick to it - it gives structure to the day.

- don’t be a slob - get dressed, wash, shave etc same as you would normally.

- keep your space tidy.

- don’t descend into chaos - exercise every day in some way or another - stretching, yoga, hangboard, core workouts, just something.

- learn something - use your brain.

- stay in touch with the people you are usually in touch with, and have normal conversations, not just about the Shit Storm … but about normal stuff.

- put aside time for doing nothing, or watching movies … but don’t just drift from work to movies to nothing and back.

- identify the things you can control and control them, accept the things you cannot control and don’t waste energy lamenting them.


These are my musings … because musing is about all I can manage right now!


One last thing I’d like to share is my favourite story from the past few weeks…


A friend in France rappelled out of his window at midnight during a full moon, hiked up to the local peak and paraglided down by the moonlight. His neighbour is a Gendarme and fined him for breaking the confinement laws … I think that was pretty harsh given his creativity!"

Thanks Monica!

Part 17 of Isolation" can be found here.

Stay safe!

3 thoughts on “Isolation (Part 16)

Ged O'Sullivan commented 8 months, 1 week ago
Managing the sourdough but thats about all Really good advice!
Robyn Johnston commented 8 months, 2 weeks ago
Enjoyed this! Agree completely :) (Although at the same time very glad my mountain guide partner has taken up the sourdough habit as I get to benefit from it without any of the hard work!!)
Charlotte Verney commented 8 months, 2 weeks ago
Really loved this blog post - thank you 😊

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