“The Coronavirus has inspired global chaos in a way that hasn’t been seen in recorded history.”
“The effects have been devastating and our world has been irrevocably changed.” We’ve all heard statements like these in the last few months. And even if you’ve been living under a rock you’ve been affected by this pandemic. The circumstances of it all have given many of us, all this time on our hands. Time we’re not used to. Time we’re not able to spend well.
Some of us try to keep up with the news about the outbreak as much as possible, it feels like perhaps there is some kind of control and stability in knowledge if nothing else. Others are burying our heads in the sand for the sake of our own sanity. Either way, neither process is making anything better and many of us are starting to see and feel the effects
Along with the economy and the healthcare system, mental health in quarantine has taken a solid nosedive. Reports show the rates of people seeking mental health professionals have gone up. Some even worry that there could be an increase in suicide rates due to social isolation and failing business ventures. Taking care of your mental health in quarantine is scary and can seem like a hard challenge.
Mental Health in Quarantine
Surely there are people with much worse problems than boredom and loneliness but humans are naturally social creatures. We need social communication to function normally and happily.
Solitary confinement is used as a last resort punishment for inmates in American prisons. Humanitarians argue this punishment is cruel and unusual, as it has led inmates to suicide as well as other terrible effects. Of course, the shutdown is nowhere near as isolating as solitary confinement but it can help us to understand just how important human interaction is for us as a species.
The regulations of social distancing are almost like state-mandated depression. For example, some of the tell-tale signs that someone is dealing with mental illness like depression include; social isolation and distancing, emotional despondency, sleeping a lot, turning to substances for relief, not properly taking care of yourself, hygienically or emotionally.
I’m sure many of us can identify these traits in our friends or loved ones, or possibly even ourselves. Sure, a few days of sleeping in, staying in your PJ’s doing nothing all day is perfectly healthy. Probably good for you if you’re usually running around a lot. But many people lost their job and have nothing but empty stretches of time in front of them. To help pass these large empty blocks of time, some are abusing alcohol or other drugs, or turn to other unhealthy habits like overeating.
Situations like these are nervewracking, as dependency on drugs can lead down some scary avenues. Some people had dependency issues from before the pandemic that is only being given the opportunity to grow under this Petree dish of humanity. If you or a loved one are struggling with alcohol or drug dependency it can be particularly scary since many resources for helping are closed right now. However, there are still virtual AA meetings that can be attended, and something like a family intervention can always make a big difference in these cases.
What Can We Do?
With all the high emotion and panic in people, its important to continue with as much positive social interaction as we can. If you live with people (family, roommates, etc), close-quarters interactions are inevitable, and avoiding bumping elbows in the hall can be difficult. So keeping these connections and conversations honest and open is in your best interest. This will help with your social health and a mental health one.
It’s important to remember not everyone is in a situation like this. Some people may have been living alone before Corona and are suffering from even higher amounts of isolation than those living with family members.
Other people have toxic living dynamics, whether with their family, partner, or roommates. In cases like this, the lockdown mandate is a higher-level of stressful, potentially scary, and undoubtedly isolating.
For some, getting out of the house to go to work or see their friends meant getting away from a toxic home environment. We don’t always know about these situations, regardless, keeping in contact with friends is not just helpful for you. Keeping up mental health in quarantine is no small feat.
The most satiating form of digital communication during the coronavirus is undoubtedly video chatting. If you have a smartphone or laptop with a webcam, you can video chat with friends, family, coworkers, and anyone else you wanna see.
These modes of communication are already in use a lot by non-necessary jobs that can still be handled on the computer from home. Many companies use programs like Zoom or Google hangouts to communicate with each other while working remotely. This way your people can keep getting a salary and stay safe from the virus. Many note that working during this trying time and can serve as a good distraction. Your brain is more occupied than it would be otherwise.
Of course, not everyone can work from home and it’s those people that are having more issues with their mental health generally. If you’re at home with no work and feeling hopeless, then digital communication is even more important for you. Make sure to facetime or at least text with your friends and loved ones at this time. Reaching out is the only way to let people know how you’re feeling and what is going on with you.
Looking Towards the Future
One of the best things you can do to help pass the time is to try to think about the future when we’re all able to go out and interact normally again. Perhaps if you have a lot of time on your hands, even mentally, planning for the future could be a wise thing to do. This can keep your mind sharp and focused on something that isn’t the deterioration of society as we knew it.
You could take a more practical approach to your daydreams of the future, and start planning out a new business venture to start up. Perhaps you’ve always thought you would be a great entrepreneur but never had the time to plan everything out. Make up a business plan and call friends or family who could help you out with it. Turn your personal project into a social activity for you and friends or loved ones. Set up opportunities to get a loan once you’re business plan is built.
Perhaps for some of us, that sounds a bit too stressful to try to take on. Instead, you may prefer to plan for a romantic getaway with your honey. Imagining yourself on an island paradise in a bikini with an umbrella drink in hand certainly sounds more exciting than sitting on the couch in your sweats again.
The daydreaming can be more fruitful than that, you could look up flight deals for the future, and actually plan out an island getaway from sometime later in the summer or early fall. Perhaps start looking into engagement ring financing if you’d like this romantic getaway to be a life-altering one.
There is a lot to plan with a vacation, from hotels and resorts to transportation services. Finding the best beaches in the location you chose, or fun activities you can do there. Even if this island getaway is nothing more than a fantasy, it can still be a good distraction while passing the time. Anything keeping your mind off the world’s potential end is always preferable.
If you still have revenue for making money, this could be a great opportunity to try and save up a little. Perhaps there’s a big investment you’ve been wanting to make, maybe you need a new computer or something bigger like a car or house.
With social distancing in place, there is a lot less money being spent by the average consumer (hence the whole economy crashing thing). So saving up some extra money, for when you can spend it, will help the economy get back on its feet quicker. Plus you can get that designer dress you’ve been wanting for a while or you could finally go for that highly effecting balding treatment.
It can be hard for some people to focus on the positive during all this. But if you are able to see that the glass really is half full, then its a good practice to keep up during this time. It will not only help you get through this trying time, but you may end up a beacon for others around you.
When Distracting Yourself Isn’t Enough
But some of us just don’t see things that way. Some of us are too clouded with anxiety and sadness to notice a stray silver lining. Going through periods like this is normal and part of the natural ebb and flow of being a human but when you are unable to escape the storm clouds, that’s when there may be cause for some concern.
If you’re finding yourself in a state like this, it’s important to let someone know. At the very least it will be helpful to let your doctor know what’s going on as they may be able to give you a referral to a mental health specialist. This is the best option if you’re looking to improve your mental health in quarantine.
But talking to your doctor can also help to rule out certain other things that may be causing issues. Perhaps you’ve been having trouble sleeping from the anxiety of it all. Possible a simple sleep aid supplement would be able to make a big difference. Getting the proper sleep required is very important for your mental wellbeing.
Depending on the laws of where you live, some doctors even prescribe marijuana as a medicinal treatment source. Due to studies showing the health benefits of the herb it has now become a common medicine. If there are cannabis dispensaries in your state, you may be able to get a prescription for marijuana.
But dealing with mental health in quarantine isn’t always so simple. With people not having jobs, that also means people aren’t receiving their regular health benefits. This means fewer people will have access to mental health services. If you’re looking for cost-conscious treatments there are a number of good sources available;
Apps like Pacifica are very inexpensive and have daily mental health tips and reminders. Sites like BetterHelp have free trials and are on the lower end of monthly payments for mental health services. These can help greatly with mental health in quarantine. CIMHS has a free program designed to help people manage their depression. There are medical professionals posting information on sites like youtube about how to deal with these issues, as well as guided meditations and yoga explicitly designed to aid with calming one’s mind.
If things are beyond the point of digital counseling, the national suicide prevention hotline’s number is 1-800-273-8255. For LGBT individuals looking for specialized help during this time, the Trevor Project’s hotline number is 1-866-488-7386.
This Will Not Last Forever
No matter how your mental health in quarantine is, it’s important to remember that this will not last forever. We will have parties and eat at restaurants and hug our friends again. There will be sports matches, and concerts and summer arts festivals again. Try to be kind to yourself and others during this trying time.