Before the coronavirus stay-at-home restrictions, most of us never expected to be quarantined all day every day with our families or housemates.
For many people with jobs, leaving the house each day was part of a natural balance of work and home life. Who was prepared for the chaos of working on-line in the midst of children needing attention or housemates bringing their careers home?
For those with home-bound family members, support from professional caregivers may be unavailable, adding stress to an already difficult situation.
Whatever your new "normal" looks like, it's probably stimulating at least a little anxiety, boredom, frustration, or fear. Try these tips to create a healthier and more peaceful environment while self-quarantining with family or friends:
Psychologists have concluded that a regular daily routine can positively affect our moods and mental health.
Sit down with everybody at home to organize an effective group schedule. Include time and space for everyone to exercise, prepare and eat healthy meals, and get enough quality sleep. These factors can help to support a healthy immune system. Don't forget to designate time for work and play.
In order to keep the peace in a confined space, everyone needs to share common resources fairly. This might mean arranging quiet times and play times along with fair access to comfortable spaces, desks and computers.
Make sure to include some “me” time in your daily schedule. It's important to decompress. Could you set aside a whole quiet hour for yourself? Try to take time right after exercising, when you’re in tune with your body. Or, take some time before bed to release stress and tension.
"Me" time should give you a chance to clear your mind of worries and frustration. One of the simplest ways is by stretching and tapping your body, doing some deep breathing, or practicing a moving meditation like Tai Chi or qigong. Check out Body & Brain TV on YouTube for some great exercise routines and mini-classes to get started.
Do something that makes you happy. Outdoor walks, hiking or cycling in nature are good ways to relieve some anxiety and frustration. If you need to stay indoors, read something to help you develop your internal calm, like Connect by Body & Brain founder Ilchi Lee.
According to Dr. Luke Bergmann, PhD, Director of Behavioral Health for the County of San Diego, one of the best things we can do when feeling anxious is to talk honestly about it with someone we trust. In a recent interview on NPR about anxiety during COVID-19 pandemic, his advice was “Observe your anxiety, acknowledge it, and then talk to someone about it.”
If you don’t feel comfortable having this kind of frank and honest discussion with the people you’re confined with, call a friend – not to bemoan the current state of things, but to connect with someone else heart-to-heart. Check on those you care about, and remember to include kindness and laughter when you do.
If you have serious concerns about your safety or the safety of someone you know during the current stay-at-home mandates, please seek professional advice at one of the helplines listed below.
To help reduce anxiety in your household, consider cutting back on the time you spend watching coronavirus news. Instead, spend a little extra time meeting online with people you care about for interactive group activities.
Anne Nielson, ARNP, nurse practitioner with the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital suggests planning online play dates and fun social activities with family and friends, such as games or watching the same movie together. Remember what you used to enjoy doing together, and create an alternative way to do it online.
You could also gather a group to try a Body & Brain yoga class, Tai Chi-qigong class or a free seminar (details online).
In April, many Body & Brain centers are offering free “Community” classes. These online classes are open to the public as part of our national #getbright campaign. Regional offerings may include classes for kids, as well as classes in Spanish. Check with your nearest center for dates and times, and invite your people to spend some quality online-time together!
Disaster Distress Hotline, 800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746
(operated by the U.S. Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration)
National Child Abuse Hotline, 800-799-7233
National Domestic Violence Hotline, 800-4-A-CHILD