The Dangers of a Self-Quarantine (and how to not let it become self-isloation)
I am home from work for *insert number* weeks. Hah. That doesn’t make me anxious at all. However, my anxiety is not the real issue here. In all reality, my anxiety has been co-pilot to much of the COVID-19 talk, but I for some reason, can remind myself that it is out of my control and like my grandma always told me, “this too shall pass.” Now, my depression is the real monster here.
Don’t get me wrong, I am so thankful to be home with my fur babies and I am #blessed that my job is paying me for the next three weeks (and then we figure out the rest *schedules anxiety attack for April 1st*). It’s also only day 2 of my self-quarantine, so the worst is yet to come.
As an introvert, the idea of being mandated to stay away from other humans is a dream come true. But, for my mental health, specifically my depression, it can be detrimental. Some of the easiest ways to alleviate depressive symptoms include other humans. And if your depression is anything like mine, being alone with your thoughts can be extremely dangerous. Being around my friends, having plans to look forward to, keeping up with my normal routine are little things that keep me afloat when my depression says to drown.
Here is a list I came up with to try and keep myself going through all of this craziness. If it helps, awesome. If it doesn’t, also awesome because at least I didn’t sit around and let my thoughts consume me.
- Walk the dog more. My little mutt is high energy all. the. time. She can go and go and go and go. I cannot. But what I can do is extend our walks beyond the normal mailbox-and-back routine. We live in a nice, quiet, clean complex and there are plenty of places to explore nearby where I can still social distance effectively!
- Clean! If you’re not someone who loves to clean, you are lying to yourself. OR you’re grouping all cleaning tasks into one. I love to clean. I hate to dust. I hate to vacuum. But catch me wiping down the counters every night after dinner, and doing the dishes, and playing real-life tetris in the refrigerator. Cleaning is something you can control so control it. I promise even the smallest progress will make you feel some type of way.
- To-Do lists. Another thing you can control is creating a literal list of things you can control. Take the trash out, watch an episode of your favorite Netflix show, make dinner, shower, clean the dragon’s tank, feed the fur children, write a blog! Everytime you check one off, you’ll feel like you didn’t waste the whole day. Even if the only checked off item is the Netflix show, you still did it. Even if the only thing you did is make a to-do list, you still did it.
- Organize a room. If you’re anything like me, you panicked when all the news coverage was about COVID-19. We went out 3 weeks ago and stocked up and I’d be lying if I told you we haven’t gone out since for little odds and ends. So right now, my house is a complete mess. We typically live in what I like to call “organized chaos” but as I look around I am seeing a lot less of the “organize” and a lot of the “chaos”. My plan is to take one room at a time and organize everything I can because not only does a clean house make me feel significantly less anxious, it also gives me a straight up visual of productivity…and I can show it off when my fiancée gets home!
- Learn something new. A lot of people automatically go to the extremes for this one. Like the next time you see me, I’ll be able to perform a whole show for you on the guitar. Or, in two weeks I’ll be able to hold and understand a full conversation in a different language. Let’s. Get. Real. I mean learn to cook something you don’t normally cook, or teach yourself that tiktok dance that always gets stuck in your head, memorize the lyrics to a song, or juggle. Literally anything. Make it fun, make it delicious, make it a challenge, just make sure you make it!
- Get dressed. This one sounds lame but it is super important. Don’t completely throw your routine out the window just because you’re off. If you remember being off for summers growing up, you also remember how hard it was to get back into a routine for school when August snuck up on you. Make a point to get up (around the same time), brush your teeth, change your clothes (notice I said change, so if you really want to be in your pjs all day, go for it!), drink your coffee and start your day. You’ll thank me later.
- Take time for yourself. The books you’ve been putting off, the bath bomb you pull out and put back just as fast, the movie that’s been sitting in the “my list” and has been for awhile, the art supplies you bought 6 months ago for a specific project, start that journal that’s been sitting in your closet with the new pens still in the package, take some time and read/do/watch/create/write it! Self-care is SO valuable and right now time isn’t an excuse you can use to not take care of yourself. .
- Reach out. Don’t be afraid to reach out. Reach out to friends, to family members, old teachers, coaches, teammates, mental health workers, etc. If you’re feeling lonely, text someone. In a time when technology is in control, let it help you stay connected to those you love and those who care the most about you. Plan a facetime date with your long-distance bff. Call your grandma and have her tell you a story from her childhood. Text your mom or dad that you love them. Check on your health care working humans and let you know you appreciate what they’re doing. Again, don’t be afraid to reach out.
Self-quarantine does not have to become self-isolation. I promise you are not the only person feeling like this. Don’t let yourself get caught up in the mess going on around you and focus on the things you can control. It is a scary time to get lost in your thoughts, so leave yourself a little trail of breadcrumbs to get out and make the most of the next *insert number* of weeks. Take it one day at a time and remember that there are better days ahead.
Now, I am going to go get dressed, and take the dog for a walk because no one likes a liar.
~ Mel ♡