Mar 13, 2020 | Clare Chiappetta
How to Protect Your Mental Health During a Quarantine
Cases of COVID-19, the new strain of coronavirus, continue to rise around the world. To protect public safety, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other health agencies are mandating quarantine for those exposed to the virus. Most will be self-quarantines, which occur at home.
Unfortunately, the forced separation of quarantine can be harmful to mental health. Loneliness, anxiety and depression are common side effects, and they have been seen with increasing severity in China, where the outbreak has locked down 760 million people. Most quarantines last at least two weeks, but as cases spread that period could be extended.
Staying at home during an outbreak can take a huge toll on your mental well-being. Here’s how to support an active, healthy mind during a quarantine.
Maintain Normalcy with a Daily Routine
It can be hard to feel normal during a viral outbreak, but it’s essential to maintain your normal routine as much as possible — especially for children in the household.
Without the external touchpoints of work, school or social activities, routines can fall apart. Setting expectations for yourself and others in the household can help you stay in touch with reality and prevent boredom and discontent from setting in.
If you are used to an active lifestyle, for example, a sedentary quarantine can severely affect your mood. Find ways to build indoor exercises into your routine. It can be extreme (like this marathon runner) or as simple as following exercise videos online. Think about your daily routine and find creative ways to replicate it with an at-home version.
Combat Loneliness with Digital Communication
Quarantines are designed to minimize human contact, which can be lonely. But digital communication from video calls and social media can support a social life. SAMHSA’s quarantine guidelines suggest reaching out to people you trust to minimize anxiety and help maintain normalcy.
Emotions are likely to run high during a quarantine, but staying in contact with loved ones can help you process what you’re feeling. Maintaining a positive attitude is essential for combating depression and anxiety. While it can be hard to replicate an active social life at home, making a point to build social touchpoints into your daily routine will have a positive impact on your mental wellbeing.
Keep Your Mind Active with Online Learning
Isolation and lack of work can lead to mental anguish. Crossword and jigsaw puzzles are fun ways to keep your mind active, but after long periods of time, they tend to lose their potency. The best way to stay engaged is through active learning. Online courses provide goals to work towards and can put you in touch with a community of fellow learners in online forums.
If your professional development budget has been approved for the year, a quarantine scenario is a good time to spend it. Online microlearning like HRCI’s upSkill, which for a limited time is offering a discounted rate of $149 per topic or course. The HRCI learning catalog keeps your professional knowledge sharp. Once your quarantine is over, transitioning back into work will be much easier if you’ve kept your head in the game.