What the heck? Last week everything was normal in our daily lives, and this week everything has changed. We maybe saw it coming, but man it came at some pace. So here we are — self-quarantined and about to be locked down. Quarantine is hard enough on it’s own, but if you’re a person dealing with previous mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety, quarantine could make things worse, quickly. This is your mental health survival guide to being quarantined.
A Mental Health Survival Guide to Being Quarantined
Control what you have control over and let go of what you don’t
Being stuck at home is quite the change of pace to many of our lives. We are used to coming and going as we please, and not feeling the least bit paranoid of our proximity to others if we do need to go out. But now everything is different.
It is easy to mourn what we do not have control over. Unfortunately that will not help our situation, nor mental state.
Take account of what you DO have control over, what blessings you DO have, what you CAN be grateful for. Write it down and post it somewhere. Read and remind yourself daily.
Keep track of the date, day of the week, and day of quarantine
When days begin to blur, so do emotions and our sense of sanity.
Keep a calendar and keep track of what day and date we are on.
This can be helpful to keep you oriented, to enable you to create and follow a structure (see the next point), and you can also see the quarantine as days past instead of days ahead.
By crossing off each quarantine day that passes, you can feel a day closer to this whole thing being behind us.
Structure your day
In the same way that it is healthy to know what the day and date is, it is important to know what the time is and to block schedule your day into manageable chunks.
By setting a general schedule or routine, you are giving yourself something concrete to add some certainty to this uncertain time.
Additionally, it is like breaking down a goal into smaller steps; by breaking down your day into segments of time, you have each new activity to look forward to, and you feel capable of completing each section.
When we feel depressed, anxious, or a combo of the two, it is so easy to let our self-care go.
This is the time when we need to make sure we are caring for ourselves more than ever.
Get dressed each morning into something other than what you slept in. It may be the last thing you feel like doing, which is exactly why you need to.
Get fresh air
Open your blinds, open your windows, and let in fresh air.
If you have a yard or if you are allowed to leave your home, step outside.
Feel the sun on your skin, absorb some natural Vitamin D, and breathe in nature.
This can do wonders for your sense of isolation and for your mood.
Socialize (virtually or at a distance)
We are so lucky that we have the capability to talk to and see our friends and family around the world with the click of a button on our computers and phones.
Take advantage! Skype, WhatsApp, Marco Polo, or use whatever program you have to connect virtually with a loved one or friend. You will feel SO MUCH BETTER, and it takes very little effort.
Have realistic expectations
Looking to other countries further ahead in the outbreak, we can expect at least a few weeks to maybe a month or more of social distancing and quarantine.
Know that and accept it.
It may feel intolerable at times, but know it is temporary, and we will emerge from the lockdown soon.
Know that you will have waves of being okay, and waves of feeling like you can’t take it. That is normal, and that is okay.
This will end and we will find what normal is beyond COVID-19.
Use your coping skills
What coping skills have you had and do you use?
Make a list and post it for you to reference when you’re feeling stuck.
Some key ones are:
Do your best to take care of your basic needs such as shower, and try to eat and sleep well
Practice deep breathing (there are many apps to guide you)
Distract with a book or favorite show
Take a break from COVID-19 media coverage
Get moving outdoors if that’s allowed or do a home workout
Do things that make you happy; maybe that’s to sing, dance, draw, cook.
What are other ideas you have for helping maintain good mental health while in a quarantined state?
Share and I will add them to this post!
You may also see benefit from reading “The Silver Lining of Being Quarantined” which looks at the reframing of how we approach this bizarre and scary time in our lives in order to see the good.
As always, if you feel you are at risk of being a danger to yourself or others, or if you feel like you are having a really hard time coping with quarantine, please, please reach out to a licensed mental health therapist who conducts therapy via telehealth services.