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‘Keep to your routine’: a former Navy submariner shares his tips for living in isolation

by Erin Lindsay
24th Mar 2020

Ex-Navy submariner Jon Bailey has advised his followers on Twitter about living in isolation

For many of us, this will be the first time that we have to deal with imposed isolation. As the Covid-19 situation grows across Ireland, and with more confirmed cases and deaths expected, it is more important than ever to stay at home as much as possible.

But for many, this can take a toll on their mental health. For those who thrive on outside interaction, or construct their daily routine around going out and about, the government measures are proving difficult. We all have to get used to the so-called ‘new normal’, but where do we begin getting used to living in isolation?

There are some people out there, however, who have been in a situation of isolation before – and they have great advice on how best to deal with it. One such person, Jon Bailey, is an ex-Navy submariner and a current robot submarine driver and fixer. In other words, he’s spent a lot of time in very isolated conditions.

Jon recently took to Twitter to share his experiences of living in confinement for extended periods of time and to give advice to those struggling with doing it themselves.


Granted, working 800 feet below sea level in a steel tube is very different than spending a few weeks at home, but Jon’s advice still stands for those of us finding it difficult not to go outside for relief.

Jon’s first word of advice centres around the importance of routine. As he mentions, while working on a submarine, you have very little indication of times or days – “life at sea is dictated by shifts and routines”. Jon advises making a routine now and sticking to it, with times set for work, exercise, and rest.


Privacy and time alone, however hard it seems, is also necessary. Just because you and whomever you live with are stuck in the house together, doesn’t mean you aren’t entitled to some time to decompress alone. Jon advises that everyone in the home have their own space, even if it means having designated shifts in the sitting room.

When it comes to food and exercise, Jon notes the importance of keeping yourself healthy and in a good mindset.


Connecting with loved ones is not off-limits, we just have to do it a bit differently. In Jon’s experience, a conversation or even a note from your family can be the highlight of the whole week. Treat it as such, instead of being sad about what’s missing.

And finally, Jon advises keeping perspective. While this time is difficult, it’s not forever, and we will all get past it at some point in the future.

Read more: 1 week down: 5 lessons learned since the beginning of the Covid-19 measures

Read more: Coronavirus Diaries: The Dublin writer who’s ‘sheltering in place’ in an eerily still New York

Read more: 20 relationship questions to bring you and your partner closer together during Covid-19

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