While quarantining at home can be super important to help prevent the spread of diseases like COVID-19 in your community, that doesn’t mean social isolation won’t take its toll. Taking care of your mental health is essential, even if quarantine is only a short blink of time in the grand scheme of things.
It is important to note that everyone copes with stress differently, and some people are more resilient mentally than others, without assigning a value judgment to those capabilities. Some of the factors that affect how someone gets through quarantine include:
- Current mental health: Are you already suffering from anxiety or depression? You may have a harder time coping with the rigors of social isolation and quarantine than someone who is not.
- How you deal with stress: Do you have excellent coping mechanisms? You may be better positioned to deal with the stress of quarantine than someone who does not possess those skills.
- Your personality: Extroverts may struggle more with the feelings of loneliness caused by quarantine, or may find staying home more difficult. But even introverts need social contact, so it’s important to find ways of filling that need, such as connecting with online communities or talking on the phone.
- The length of your quarantine: Research suggests that minimizing the length of quarantine can help with the negative mental health effects of being in quarantine. Extending quarantine past the 14 days of isolation recommended to minimize the risk of spreading coronavirus could have potential detriments to mental health.
There are also some ways you can help yourself. In order to mitigate the negative mental health effects of coronavirus quarantine, try the following:
- Establish a routine: One of the worst things about quarantine is the disruption of your daily routine. Some folks are without their commute, which brackets their work day; others are suddenly responsible for the education of children who are home all day as well. This can make you feel rudderless as you try to fill up all the hours of the day. Try to create a new daily schedule with activities that will keep everyone occupied so you can get your own work done, but don’t get married to a strict routine. Try to break up the day so things don’t get too boring.
- Be active: There are multiple ways you can be active while stuck at home. Use fitness apps, exercise videos, bodyweight exercises, or online workouts in order to make sure you aren’t losing muscle mass. Fitting new physical activity into your at-home routine can be a way to stave off monotony as well as keep fit.
- Frustration and boredom are the enemy: Try to maintain as many of your routines as possible. Work on projects like organizing your closet, develop new hobbies like figure building or journaling, and keep trying to fill your time with things to do. This provides a sense of purpose and competence that helps hold back the negative mental health effects of being under prolonged quarantine. Make a plan with a list of things you’d like to accomplish and try to tick off a few things each day so you still feel like you are in control and working towards accomplishing things.
- Communicate: Quarantine and social isolation don’t have to be synonymous. Reach out to friends, family, and even coworkers to try and alleviate the sense of isolation that can accompany lengthy lockdown periods. You can reach out to others via social media or even join groups that are specifically oriented towards those under lockdown. Try doing video calls so you can see other people’s faces.
- Avoid information overload: The last thing you want to do is overwhelm yourself with information. Staying informed does not mean becoming overwhelmed and despairing with the amount of things out there that are out of your control. Focus on getting helpful information from trustworthy sources rather than calamitous information from inaccurate or biased sources.
Quarantine is just one of many ways we are all rowing together in the same boat, trying to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But finding ways to protect your mental health while in quarantine is critical, since even brief isolation can have negative effects such as irritability, anxiety and more. By staying busy, communicating with others, and keeping our focus on the things we can control and accomplish, you can boost your own mental resilience and have an easier time while in lockdown.