Are you experiencing loneliness, depression, or isolation during the pandemic? You are not alone. Two out of three Americans have felt hopeless, lonely, anxious, or depressed at least once a week during the pandemic.
Have you been hoarding?
One of the first signs of stress is panic buying or hoarding. Supermarkets quickly sold out of many items due to the panic buying of consumers. Here is a sample list of the things depleted most rapidly.
- Aerosol disinfectants
- Baking yeast
- Facial tissue
- Hair clippers
- Hair color
- Hand sanitizer
- Hard seltzers
- Online alcohol
- Spiral hams
- Toilet paper
Meat plants across the country were forced to close due to outbreaks of the virus among their employees. The citizens of America responded by increasing meat purchases and clearing the shelves in grocery stores.
In times of stress, it is hard to make rational decisions. Why?
- The frontal cortex of the brain reacts rationally by trying to analyze the situation and long-term consequences.Rational thought – I don’t need to buy another box of facial tissue. I have twenty.
- The amygdala reacts emotionally and suggests immediate action to protect yourself.Your gut reaction is better safe than sorry.
When anxiety reaches high levels, making a rational decision is difficult because these messages get confused.
How are quarantine and isolation different?
Quarantine is keeping someone away from others who may have been exposed to the disease. Quarantine helps prevent the spread of the disease before individuals know they are sick or infected but without symptoms. Quarantined people should remain home, separating themselves from others, closely monitor their health, and follow the directions provided by their state or local health department.
Isolation separates those infected with COVID-19, including those with no symptoms, from those who are not infected. People in isolation should remain home until it is safe to be around others. In the home, an infected person should stay in a “sick room” or area and use a different bathroom if possible.
But how do you deal with the isolation you feel?
It is essential to guard your mental health during times of decreased social interactions. But understand that it is completely normal to feel stress when faced with less contact with people. When you add that to the pressure one feels over worry about contracting the disease, the chances of developing a mental health issue such as depression or anxiety increase.
17 things to do in isolation at home
- Keep a schedule.
Even if you are isolated at home, keep a regular schedule as much as you can. You may feel the loneliness will never end, but attempting to make the days feel as “normal” as possible will help you to endure.
- Begin each day with a plan.
Use a Happy Planner journal to plan out some things you will do, keep a diary about how you are feeling, and keep a log of your symptoms if you are managing an illness. These things will help you feel as if you are proactive about the situation, causing you to feel less helpless.
- Stay informed.
Keeping up to date on the latest advice and health information will give you an edge when it comes to protecting your mental health. You do not want to feed your fear and anxiety through a lack of information.
- Limit your media consumption.
It can be overwhelming watching too much news, reading too many articles, and essentially consuming too much content. Perhaps check the news twice a day, or limit your time on social media. Make sure you seek factual information about how to stay healthy from reliable sources.
- Stay active.
Practice yoga, Tai Chi, or low impact workouts using YouTube videos. Walk around your neighborhood or use a treadmill
- Do something meaningful.
If you find yourself not just bored, but feeling as though you have lost your sense of self, then a loss of meaning might be the problem. These are some meaningful things you can do:
- Take on online course and work a little each day
- Create a family tree
- Be an online volunteer
- Connect with others.
Call someone (a friend, a family member, a co-worker) on the phone, or use video chat services like Zoom or Facetime. Post on social media or respond to the posts of others. Use texting or instant messenger to stay in touch.
- Find sources of comfort.
To navigate a tough time while staying positive in isolation requires us to be creative in seeking out comfort anywhere we can find it. Smells, like lilac, and nature, like bringing real plants (or even faux plants) into your home, are unexpected sources of comfort.
- Focus on your pet.
Caring for a pet can help to ease loneliness, relieve stress, anxiety, and depression, and provide unconditional love.
- Read favorite books.
Simply by opening a book, you allow yourself to be invited into a literary world that distracts you from your daily stressors. Reading can even relax your body by lowering your heart rate and easing the tension in your muscles.
- Cook healthy comfort meals.
Well you knew this was going to come up as a suggestion at some point, after all this is a recipe blog! Cooking is therapeutic, and the eating is fun too! You might enjoy a nice comforting dish of Shepherd’s Pie, a baked penne pasta dish, or even some Homemade Scalloped Potatoes.
Some more things to do at home by yourself
- Enjoy a cup of herbal tea
- Watch favorite TV shows
- Take a bath
- Use a foot spa
- Light scented candles
- And finally, make sure you get enough rest.
A pandemic can leave you feeling alone, scared, and isolated. These mental health tips can help with isolation fatigue, but if you need someone to talk to during these strange times, please find someone you can trust or turn to a professional.