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I once spent 3-4 weeks on a hill, in an area of about 30 squared meters. I did not leave the hill for the entire time I was there. I was sharing the hill with 5 other blokes, we had no phones, no internet, no T.V, no daily paper and only very limited communications to the outside world. Our communication was through daily radio checks, scripted to about 10 words. All we had was time to kill and if we had of got the chance, a few Taliban.

This is my isolation war story, a story I have been thinking about a lot over the past week. Being isolated and shut off from the world is a scary but humbling thing. I’m sharing this story to provide tips to get through the next few weeks of complete boredom and isolation. How do you keep your mind and body healthy when you are isolated and bored?

CAV HILL

Our call sign was Victor 1-3 (V13) our task was to provide overwatch protection for the newly built patrol base (PB Wali) in the Mirabad valley. The patrol base was built right up against the green zone, leaving it susceptible to attack. Taliban where able to toss grenade‘s over the wall and slip back into the general population without a trace. The patrol base was at the feet of large hills leaving it open to sniper fire directly into the base. The idea of building the base in this position was to make it more welcoming to the locals. This may or may not have worked but it was a huge mistake in security. A cavalry patrol was then required to provide overwatch protection for at least 12 months after the base was built. The Taliban knew the deadly force an Australian Cavalry ASLAV could inflict and they would be cautious with any attack they would take on the base. The hill was nick named CAV Hill.

MY 3-4 WEEKS

Now that may have all sounded really exciting and you maybe thinking that it must have been an actioned packed place to be, but the truth is 95% of the time we where there, it was pure boredom. To get through the time we relied on a daily routine. You wake up at the same time every day and follow a routine that keeps you alert and focused. Or else you get lazy, complaisant and everything falls apart.

ROUTINE

A routine is essential to keeping the mind and body focused. Over the past two weeks a lot of us have had our normal daily routines turned upside down. This may have left you feeling fuzzy and lost. You must find a new routine FAST or risk becoming complaisant.

  • Set a wake up time

Stick to a wake up time 6 days of the week. Make it the same time every day and save a sleep in for once a week. The sleep in will feel way better because you have earned it.

  • Exercise every day

At the same time every day, exercise. We made an area that we would take turns exercising in. We spent enough time together so it was good to have that 40-60 minutes to yourself and just workout.

  • Eat three square meals

Each day eat at the same times every day. This stops you from snacking and builds structure. Nutrition is the most important thing to your physical and mental health, so your meal times and what you are eating is more important now than ever.

  • Add coffee breaks,

Our coffee breaks where a huge part of the day on CAV hill. It took time to boil the water, prep the coffee‘s and then the time to sit and chat over a cuppa. Take that time in your day to sit back and have a cuppa.

  • Improve your area.

I am sure you have plenty of jobs around the house that you have been putting off. Set aside time in your day, every day, to complete these tasks. We built the best out door toilet we could, with the best view I have every done my business too. The task not only gave us a great shitter, but gave us something to keep our minds occupied.

  • Read Stories.

Take your mind away from everything and read a book. A book will give your mind more piece than a movie or T.V and you may learn something. I have never been a reader, but these times of isolation I would read every day.

When this is all over and done with, you will not remember the boredom or the fear. You will remember the little things, like the time you went for a massive walk to find a water fall or that super red sunset you watched. Make the best memories you can. I remember the coffees, the cold air in the night, the moon coming up over the snow capped Hindu Kush Mountains and I remember laughing and laughing with my mates.

Coach Lock