As we learn to navigate the “new normal” of a world with coronavirus, many aspects of our daily routines have changed. In our last post, we advised parents about how to discuss these uncertain times with their children. Today, we’d like to provide insight about how to prevent COVID claustrophobia.
Why Do We Have to Stay Home?
First, it is important to understand why individuals have been required to stay at home. COVID-19, or the novel coronavirus, is highly contagious via person-to-person transmission. This risk is compounded in group settings, such as busy crowds at shopping centers or large events. Shelter-in-place orders have been issued in response to this; by encouraging people to stay at home and isolate themselves, health officials hope that the spread of the virus can be managed more effectively. By slowing the number of new cases, we can “flatten the curve” and avoid overwhelming hospitals with a huge influx of new patients.
Fighting COVID Claustrophobia While You Shelter at Home
As state and local governments issue “shelter-at-home” and “safer-at-home” orders, millions of Americans find themselves confined to their apartments, condos, and houses until further notice. San Francisco has remained under such advisory for more than 20 days now, with a constantly changing end date looming as late as May 3rd. Schools have cancelled classes for the foreseeable future, and many workplaces have either transitioned to fully remote staffing or have laid off their employees.
One important side effect of these policies is that families are now together 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. While spending quality time together may be fun at first, many parents are struggling to balance work, childcare, and self-care while keeping anxieties about COVID-19 under control. Entertaining or homeschooling kids of any age is challenging at the best of times, but during a workday in the midst of a global pandemic, it can be especially stressful. In response, we’ve compiled a few tips to help families feel refreshed and calm during the coronavirus outbreak.
Feeling Cooped Up? Ideas for Getting Some Space
1. Open the windows.
This small step can make a big difference. If it’s a nice day outside, throw the windows open and let some fresh air and sunshine flow through the house. After spending several days at home, you may not realize how musty or dark it’s become.
2. Create a self-care sanctuary.
Make a space in your home that is specific to each person. If you love to relax in the bath, bring in a few candles and order some new bubble bath online. If your child is a reader, set up a chair for her surrounded by her favorite books and toys. These places can be a sanctuary from the rest of the household; when someone is in their spot, other family members should not bother them. By creating these natural boundaries, it will become much easier to co-exist in a small home together.
3. Stick to a schedule.
As we adjust to life in self-quarantine, many of our usual markers of time have become a thing of the past. There’s no need to wake the children up to catch the bus, or to pack your lunch for work, because all of these activities have been confined to the home. However, that doesn’t mean that you should throw your agenda out the window. Keeping to a normal schedule is beneficial for children and adults alike; it ensures you structure your days well and adhere to self-care best practices, such as eating meals on time and keeping a healthy sleep schedule.
4. Get outside.
If possible, try to spend as much time as you can outdoors. Those in densely populated areas should adhere to CDC and WHO guidelines about social distancing (remaining six feet from other people while in public) and personal hygiene (washing your hands or using hand sanitizer after touching surfaces). However, those who live in homes with yards can really benefit from some guilt-free time outside. Let your kids run around the lawn and encourage them to help you with tasks like gardening or weeding. This helps everyone to break up the monotony of time indoors and provides you with mood-boosting levels of vitamin D.
5. Take a tour of your home.
If you’re stuck in one room of your house for days (or weeks) at a time, fatigue and claustrophobia will begin to set in. You’ve got a whole home to explore! Instead of sticking to one small area 100% of the time, try setting up your workspace in a new spot each day. This will create variety and help you to avoid a sense of monotony in your home life.
6. Socialize with friends.
Don’t be tempted to isolate during COVID-19. It is especially vital for those in recovery to stay connected with friends, family, and members of their sober support network during this time. Schedule regular Zoom or FaceTime calls with your loved ones and use this as an excuse to reconnect with long-lost pals from high school or college. By staying plugged in, you’ll break up the days and remind yourself that others are going through the exact same thing that you are.
7. Try indoor exercise.
For many of us, coronavirus has disrupted our usual exercise habits. With gyms closing across the country, it’s important that we learn how to channel our energy into at-home physical activity. Whether you’re running around your neighborhood (6 feet apart from others) or practicing yoga, getting thirty minutes of exercise five days per week can improve your mood and physical health during this time.
8. Beautify your space.
Odds are that spending more time at your house has created some frustrations with your space. If you’ve been putting off home improvement projects, this is the time to tackle them. No construction is required! Many Americans have taken to purging their wardrobes or organizing their closets and pantries during their time at home. You can also rearrange your furniture to freshen up your space.
9. Practice meditation.
No matter how much experience you have with meditation, it’s the perfect solution to feeling cooped up inside. By relaxing and focusing on being present, you can acknowledge your emotions without being ruled by them. If you’re not sure where to start, there are plenty of YouTube videos with guided imagery meditations and creative visualization exercises that you can try.
10. Make use of online resources.
If you’re having trouble entertaining yourself or the kids during COVID-19, try going online for inspiration and resources. Many companies and public figures have responded to the pandemic by releasing free amenities, such as online museum tours, online lessons, live storybook readings, and virtual recreation activities. With a little creativity, you can incorporate these into your daily life.
Support and Help During COVID-19
We’re here for you. At Pine Grove, we understand the impact that this pandemic has had on your daily life. To meet our community’s needs, we are now providing a free, anonymous emotional support hotline staffed by our team of therapists. We encourage you to call 601.337.2215 from Monday through Friday, 7:00 AM to 9:00 PM, for advice and support. To learn more about our behavioral health and addiction services, contact us today.