By now there has been enough chatter about the people quarantined at home with the stressors of partners, spouses, roommates or kids. But what about those who have been braving this storm alone? People who live or may have to quarantine alone and for whom the lockdown orders have caused limited activity and a significant void of community and connectedness.
Humans are social creatures, and interestingly, we thrive on human connection and physical touch. Since that has taken a back seat due to the second wave, it’s no surprise that the quarantine fatigue has begun to set in. We are wired to come together physically, but because of COVID-19, loneliness has become chronic and contagious.
Although self-isolation is necessary, prolonged isolation can also increase the risk of depression and anxiety. Studies have shown a significant rise in mental health illnesses during the pandemic.
Note: If you’re feeling persistent sadness or anxiety that interferes with day-to-day life, consider seeing a therapist
Signs you may be struggling
- Potential problem behaviors: Increased dependence on substances such as drinking, smoking, drug use, overeating, online gambling, or excessive shopping
- Mood swings based on current news: Tracking the news or social media, followed by sharp changes in mood depending upon what’s being viewed
- Poor sleeping patterns: Exhibiting poor sleeping patterns such as consistent poor sleep, or too much sleep, which are both red flags
- Avoiding conversations: Not feeling motivated to pick up phone calls or reply to messages from friends and family
- Not following a daily routine: Losing all sense of your routine, which might also include not keeping up with basic hygiene such as brushing your teeth, showering, or washing your hair. Not feeling motivated to do simple home tasks such as laundry, dishes, and clearing the clutter
- Thinking negative: Constant and uncontrollable negative thoughts running through your head
- Hopelessness: Feeling helpless or hopeless. Thinking that this time may never end. In some cases even thoughts of suicide
How to stay sane if you have to quarantine alone?
Follow these effective strategies that may help foster a healthier mindset if you are quarantining alone.
#1 Take care of your body
It can be so easy to melt away into a creamy and buttery bowl of butter chicken, and in moderation, that’s perfectly acceptable. But also strive to take care of your body by eating healthy food, exercising for 30 minutes a day, and getting some sunshine. This will help maintain your physical health and improve your mental health by creating structure and distracting you from the overwhelming news updates.
#2 Take up a new skill or hobby
This can range from learning to play a new instrument or even a game, researching new topics of interest, drawing/painting, or gardening. You could also try learning calligraphy, writing poetry, reading a book, baking bread (baking a batch of sourdough bread can be quite therapeutic), or even memorizing the different states of India! Make some time in your day to dive into your chosen activity or join an online group that supports your chosen hobby.
#3 Appreciate time with yourself
Be a good company to yourself. Besides the outward-looking ways to cope, be sure to also look within. Appreciate the time with yourself. Embrace the opportunity to know yourself better. What makes you happy? What makes you tick? Or what makes you sad? Strive to be grateful for the time you get to spend with yourself. In addition, use the time to learn new things, start a hobby, read influential books or watch great films!
#4 Limit the news
The quickest way to stay current and informed about COVID-19 is by watching or reading news. However, watching/reading too much about the pandemic can add to your stress. While many are easing up on their screen time limit during this time, you can use your TV and other devices in other ways. Play online games, take part in live workout/yoga sessions, learn to cook new cuisine by watching cooking shows — take a break from the constant news updates.
#5 Follow a daily schedule
Many of us have woken up wondering, what day is it? Or what time is it? You’re not alone if quarantine has made you hazy. Many of us have lost a sense of structure because of the lack of traveling, organized mealtimes, or work and school schedules. To fight confusion, make a plan for your day. Look back on your pre-COVID-19 routine and calendar even the simplest things, such as eating breakfast, exercising and taking a shower.
#6 Connect with friends and family
It is easier than ever before to stay connected with your friends and family – thanks to technology and social media. There has never been a better time to reach out and connect with old and new friends. Isolation can cause depression and loneliness, especially for older people who are experiencing stricter self-isolation parameters.
Write an old-fashioned letter, send an email, message on WhatsApp or set up a group video call! Catch up with your friends and family or rekindle lost connections. You could also play an online game or have virtual dinner parties that may help lift the spirits up!
#7 Plan your meals
Limiting the number of visits to supermarkets means having more food and less storage space. Spending all the time at home can cause snacking/eating to beat boredom. For many of us, emotional eating is one of the common stress responses in difficult situations with full pantries, it is easy to polish off a big bag of chips/cookies.
Planning your meals will help create a structure around what you eat in a day, making it easier to resist unnecessary snacking. Also, knowing what you’re going to eat in your next meal, give you something to look forward to.
#8 Keep moving
Many of us have kissed bye-bye to our exercise routines and said hello to a sedentary lifestyle. Following a sedentary lifestyle during self-isolation is an unhealthy practice. When you exercise, it helps improve your mood by releasing endorphins and serotonin, which helps reduce stress and anxiety.
There are plenty of ways to make exercise a priority once again. From joining live workout or yoga sessions, taking a walk (if it’s safe) easy to do body weight training to dancing it out. And if you are working from home, try some easy chair exercises.
#9 Limit online shopping
A lot of us have impulsively shopped to deal with stress, anxiety or depression. But no matter how much you miss going to the mall, retail therapy in the form of online shopping is not the answer. To start, you’ll bleed your finances. And after you’ve bought the items, you may face feelings of regret. Channel your spending instinct into a self-care practice, such as reading, baking, or making time to do simple breathing exercises.
Living alone can be difficult, and it’s likely more stressful through the pandemic because of the strict social isolation. Be intentional about staying connected, but be selective about those with whom you spend your time virtually. Establish a daily routine, be purposeful about your home and make good choices about your personal habits.
Most of all, manage your worries and create a sense of optimism. The pandemic is tough and quarantining alone, can be even tougher, but you will get through it – individually and collectively.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
A. Physical activity and relaxation techniques can be valuable tools to help you remain calm and continue to protect your health during this time. WHO recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week, or a combination of both.
A. Follow an online exercise class. Walk even in small spaces. Stand up, reduce your sedentary time by standing up.