Self-care and Prevention: Avoiding Cabin Fever When Social Distancing

You’ve probably heard a lot about self-quarantine and social distancing lately as ways to do your part to help keep your family and community safe.

If you lead an active lifestyle that involves a lot of going out, or simply are used to things like heading to the office or dropping kids off at school, staying in can seem like a nightmare! First: You’re not alone, we’re all in this together and in these unusual and uncertain times it’s perfectly understandable to be feeling more on edge or nervous. That said, everyone needs a little extra support when changing routines. The following are practical tips, but of course if you find that essential oils help you feel more grounded, balanced, or supported, then definitely use them to supplement your habits and routines. The most responsible thing you can do right now is follow medical guidance from trusted official sources, and develop good hygiene habits.

Maintain the parts of your routine you already do at home

Keep your sleep and wake times, meal times, etc as close to your regular schedule as possible. It is a physical anchor to what feels normal and safe. It’s tempting to sleep in, or stay up late binge watching those streaming shows you’ve been putting off, but your body and mind will thank you if you try to keep an even keel from the start. If you need help reinforcing your usual schedule, set an alarm on a phone or timer. E.g. if you normally get home around 5pm or 6pm and immediately start dinner, set yourself a reminder for the time you typically arrive home.

Keep the lines of communication open

The internet is here to help. Start a chat room of some kind with your coworkers, friends, family, or other parents you know through your children’s school!

There’s a number of tools like Facebook, Slack, Discord, email chains or group texts. Share funny stories, your worries, your feelings! Life hasn’t stopped just because you’re at home. Share recipes, games, videos, photos of pets, etc. The internet is a wonderful tool for connecting substantially and emotionally with others. Facetime and phone calls are there too! It’s easy to slip into communication holes with people you don’t see regularly, but both you and they will benefit from keeping in touch.

“Social distancing” in public is all about good manners!

When you do have to go out for supplies, or essential appointments, what does social distancing mean? It means being polite!

Give people at least 6 feet of personal space, don’t be a close talker, and don’t crowd people in doorways or in aisles. This also means spacing out more than normal in store lines. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after using public restrooms. If sanitizing wipes are provided for things like shopping carts, use the wipes before and after you use them. Cover your face when coughing, sneezing, burping, yawning, etc and try to aim for your elbow, rather than into your hand. Use hand sanitizer after handling public resources like door knobs or pin pads, and try to elbow or back into push doors if possible to conserve your sanitizer use.

Center yourself, but don’t make yourself the center

We are all in this together! Deep breath, in and out. We are all in this together. What does that mean?

Well, it means that we should do our best to be patient with each other, and help each other out where we can. Be honest about what you can do to help; this situation isn’t all on you. Your neighbors, friends, family, and people all around the world are doing their best right now in the face of uncertainty and stress. Be kind to them, and be kind to yourself.

If the most you can manage is keeping yourself calm, and keeping your own house in order, that is totally ok! Just by staying home, you are helping prevent the spread of infection. If you can join in on neighborhood efforts, or start one, to help elderly or immunocompromised neighbors stay afloat, that’s wonderful too. Not knowing what comes next can be very scary, but the bonds we have an opportunity to form with one another to create local networks of mutual support will help make these events less isolating & worrying. If you do decide to get out there and pitch in, make sure you take care of you.

When you’re getting supplies, try to keep a level head. Many stores are suffering shortages due to a phenomena called “panic buying”, where people aren’t sure what exactly they need and for how long. Some health professionals have asked that people avoid purchasing things like gloves or masks unless they have a known need, to help keep supplies up for hospitals and health centers. Unless you have explicitly been asked to remain housebound for an extended period, try to maintain your regular shopping habits, or lay by enough for 2-3 weeks of minimal shopping trips. This helps you keep your budget in order and helps your neighbors by helping keep supplies available.

Fill your days up

If you’re officially on leave or confined to your home, it can be easy to lose track of time.

You certainly don’t have to take on a new project or hobby, but adding tasks to your day if you don’t have plans will help keep you feeling grounded. Get a jump start on spring cleaning. Shoot, you could even sort your socks! If there’s reading or online training you could do to improve your work skills, now would be a good time to start that, since it would cover topics that feel familiar. Even kids can get in on this, since there are a ton of all-ages online learning resources through libraries, museums, and more, and many that were previously paid are offering free access to help parents struggling with cooped up kids. You can also play games, watch movies and read books you’ve been meaning to get to. Maintaining your mental well-being is a multi-faceted thing, and let’s face it, nobody likes being bored.

Go outside

Now wait a second, isn’t this contradictory!? We’re supposed to stay in! Well yes.

But if you have a yard, you can absolutely spend time outside there. In many areas, it’s time to start gardening tasks, and this would be an excellent opportunity to dive in with both feet. Outside areas that don’t have a lot of people are also good choices. Ideally you should avoid crowds and person-to-person contact; remember, use good social distancing etiquette around others. If you live in a busy urban area, crack the windows, use a balcony or porch if you have one to get some air. We often underestimate how much sunshine and fresh air our regular routines can give us. Getting yourself a breath of fresh air can really help combat the stress of being cooped up.

We Got This

Whatever the coming days and weeks bring us, I wish you all happiness and good health. Despite all the stresses, I truly believe we will persevere together.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.