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Locked Down in Paradise: Finding a Practical Way to Manage the Stress

By Perley-Ann Friedman April 16, 2020 Mindset

Much like the rest of the world, Koh Lanta is locked down. No one can get off the island, and no one can get on. There are exceptions for medical personnel and food delivery, but that’s it unless you have a letter of permission from the local authorities.

Stranded on an Island

I can leave if I have a plane ticket back to my home country, but it’s a risk because I wouldn’t be allowed to come back. After all, if I’m flying back home, why would I want to return to this foreign land?

Yet, many international flights out of Thailand are being canceled at the last minute. And where would that leave me? I have visions of that movie with Tom Hanks, The Terminal. I definitely don’t want to live at an airport till the shutdown is lifted. It could be weeks!

Here on Koh Lanta, there is nowhere to go and nothing to do. Hotels, resorts, and beach bungalows are closed. Restaurants are not allowed to serve food, so a few are providing take away. Bars are closed, as are all sporting events and entertainment venues.

Massage and hair salons closed a while ago, along with the nail shops, gyms, and yoga studios. The meditation, Muay Thai Boxing, and yoga vacation retreats have all shut down.

People are hunkered down at home and are only allowed to go out to buy food from 4 am to 8 pm. No social gatherings are allowed. We all have to wear a mask. Heavy fines are in place to encourage everyone to follow the rules.

A Grand Dystopian Adventure

While some people complain about the curfew, it’s really out of boredom, since we’re only supposed to stay home or take solo walks, runs, or bike rides.

I could be super stressed and panicked with all the limitations on my freedom. But I’m not. I don’t feel confined; rather, I see it as an adventure.

We are experiencing something historic, monumental, and rather surreal. I’m a big fan of dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction, and I now see it playing out all around me. It’s really happening, and I’m fascinated!

The Physical Symptoms of Stress

Like many of us, I wake up in the middle of the night with shortness of breath, pain in my chest, and the sweats. But I don’t let it control me. I know it’s my body’s way of managing the fear of catching the virus.

My strategy is to quickly take my mind off myself and focus on something else. Maybe my cat’s crazy sleeping position or the way the leaves are moving outside my window. I force myself to think about what I just watched on Netflix or a treat I’ll give myself tomorrow.

If I can’t stop the worrying, I’ll tell myself that first thing in the morning, if I still feel the same way, I’ll go to the doctor. And I mean it.

The next day I usually forget about the midnight experience until around lunchtime or when I’m out on my beach bike ride. I chuckle at how real the physical symptoms were.

Whether it was my fear playing with me, or my body was truly in agony, it doesn’t matter. I had respected the feelings and had created a plan for the next morning. This plan allowed me to fall asleep; it removed the urgency and lowered my stress.

Staying Rational in the Face of Fear

I have no idea if I will get this virus. However, I do know that worrying about it definitely won’t help. I’m staying healthy, following all the social distancing and washing advice, and finding things to do with my day.

If the authorities close the beaches, I’ll take up exercising at home. But that isn’t today. Today I can still bike on the sand, wearing a face mask and staying a hockey stick (my inner Canadian surfacing) away from everyone.

My Home Away from Home

A few weeks ago, when all foreigners were advised to go home, I realized that Koh Lanta was home. I retired here over 5 years ago. I have an amazing house with a beautiful garden, along with three wonderful cats and my partner of 30 years.

I take each day as it comes, even with all the changing restrictions and concerning statistics around the planet. My advice to everyone is to live each day the best you can. Don’t look at it as living with limitations and fear – see it as an opportunity to live through this horrid global pandemic.

Do you experience physical symptoms of stress? What are they? How do you manage them? Please share your tips with our community.

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The Author

About Perley-Ann Friedman, The Happy Cat. I now live on Koh Lanta, a small island in southern Thailand. I am enjoying my alternative lifestyle as I ease into retirement. I’m in my 60s, healthy, active, have red hair and totally love cats. I’ve consciously chosen to be positive and to continuously grow as I journey through life. Visit me at

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