Thanks to the COVID-19 situation, a lot of you are experience being stuck in the house for the first time. While spending time at home can be lovely, when it’s mandatory it doesn’t take long for it to start to morph into…something else.
Stuck in the house: how to deal.
I’ve been mostly housebound due to chronic illness for the last two years, with three years of working from home before that. When I started seeing “HOW TO SURVIVE WORKING FROM HOME” articles last week, I rolled my eyes. I didn’t want to have patience for anyone whining about being inside for a few weeks. Just learn to deal with it, I thought, that’s what I had to do.
A friend texted me yesterday asking if I had any advice for managing depression and anxiety while under self-quarantine, and suddenly I felt like a jerk. I want to be a source of support, not judgement.
Being stuck inside can be really, really, really hard and I happen to be an expert, so I’m going to share my advice.
Find ways to break up the day.
Normally your day is split up by the things you do: maybe you go to work, you run errands, you pick up your kids, whatever. It divides your day into zones. When you don’t leave the house, you lose those markers and your day just becomes a big sticky, nebulous blob of time that your brain doesn’t know how to process.
If you don’t find other ways to differentiate your day, it will make you feel weird and bad.
For me, it’s really important to have rituals. When I get up, I brush my teeth, wash my face, take all my morning meds, and put in my contacts. Then I go downstairs, take more meds, make tea, and eat breakfast while reading. It tells my mind that the day is officially starting! When I finish my tea, I decide what I’m going to do next.
Give your brain different things to do.
When you’re stuck at home, it’s vital to give your mind different kinds of things to do.
Spend time in different rooms of your house or different chairs, listen to different music, read different books. Dig up the half-finished scarf you started three years ago and try to remember how to knit. Download a computer game you loved when you were younger and see if it’s still fun (I love The Sims). Draw a picture or find the coloring books in the back of your bookshelf. Bake something time consuming that you wouldn’t normally bother with.
Give yourself some time to experience silence. If you’re bored by or want to be distracted from your own thoughts, listen to a podcast or audiobook.
I also find it very helpful to seek out concrete tasks, especially when I’m feeling out of control. Organize a closet, a drawer, or a bookshelf: just take everything out, re-order it, and then put it back in. Sometimes embracing a tangible task that you can accomplish from start to finish is the best feeling in the world.
Maybe you’ve always wanted your shirts to be in rainbow order? Now is the time to make that happen.
Eat, drink, and sleep.
If you don’t take care of your body’s basic needs, you will feel worse. Low blood sugar, lack of sleep, and dehydration are easy ways to tank your physical and emotional health. This sounds easy, but it isn’t, especially if you’re used to a work schedule giving you meal cues.
I like to keep a full glass of water with me during the day so that I’m always sipping, in addition to drinking a full glass of water with most meals. I have a hard time eating regularly, especially when I’m feeling lousy, but I feel SO much better when I eat every few hours – even if some of that is Luna bars or spoonfuls of peanut butter.
These things are really important, especially if you’re trying to keep your body in virus-fighting shape.
If you follow me on IG you know I am a notorious insomniac, mostly because of my health issues. When I chatted with my Dr the other day about coronavirus planning, she emphasized sleep more than anything else. It’s easier said than done, but I’m trying!
Be in your body.
This was originally “move your body” but the truth is that I’m often too sick to do that, and if you’re self-quarantined you might be too.
If you can stretch or do gentle exercises like yoga or pilates or even walking in place, there’s a whole world of routines on the internet that you may want to look into.
If that doesn’t sound good, take a bath or hot shower and think about how the water feels on your body. Run your hand across your pillow and focus on how the material slides against your fingers. Use a face mask or slowly exfoliate and then lotion your legs and take note of the sensations. Lie on the floor and take some deep breaths.
Sometimes when my thoughts are running away with me, listening to something that I can focus on instead of my own internal monologue is the best thing for me. I particularly enjoy Belleruth Naparstek‘s meditations, yoga nidra, and the Calm app.
You don’t have to get dressed.
You don’t have to get dressed but you DO have to shower and change your clothes sometimes, even if you live alone. You’ll feel better in clean clothes and it’s good for you to go through self-care routines like changing pajamas, brushing your teeth, and washing your hair if you have the energy to do those things.
If you can’t stomach the whole shebang, or if you’re too sick to do so, embrace partial measures like just washing your face and changing your underwear and then putting your most comforting PJs back on.
When you can’t do everything, find something smaller to do and do that instead. If you can’t do anything, remember that that’s okay too and try again later.Read More