As I am sure most are aware, the coronavirus outbreak has closed schools across Washington. In addition, restaurant and theater closures as well as group-size restrictions limit the options for students to spend their time. So as we all prepare to hunker down in our homes for the next few weeks, here are my tips to avoid the isolation blues:
• Sleep responsibly: While sleeping in these last few days has certainly felt nice for all those released from the daily grind, it can become an issue as the weeks of isolation drag on. Too much sleep is a problem when it starts to interfere with your motivation during the day. Try to keep a solid sleep schedule around the normal eight hours.
• Plan your time: With the outbreak and the related shutdowns likely continuing well into April or beyond, it is important to have a plan on how to spend your time each day. Having even a loose schedule can help to make you feel like you are going somewhere, rather than just stuck in one spot all day.
• Find satisfaction: While planning what you want to get done, make sure to set an end goal or two. This is so you can feel satisfied about all you have gotten done when the isolation eventually ends.
• Work on a hobby: This period of isolation could be the perfect time to spend some time with a hobby. Whether you have a dozen to choose from or don’t have any yet, try to figure out a project or two. This can help you gain new skills, as well as fight off boredom.
• Learn something new: As a backdrop to your planned activities, try to find a new podcast, audiobook or YouTube series to enjoy. This can be history, science, cooking or any other topic you find interesting. For students: Make sure to stay up-to-date on any work that your school might assign! Your future self will thank you.
• Hang out: For all the extroverts out there, finding safe ways to socialize with friends will be important to staying happy and healthy over the next few weeks. Programs like Discord and online chat apps can help you stay in touch and possibly have some fun. For example, you could organize a group movie night or video game tournament. Whatever you do, it will help alleviate the negative impact of isolation. Maybe you could even make some new friends in the process.
• Go outside: Even if you are not going anywhere, taking a walk or just sitting on your porch can make a big difference. Try to get some sun and maybe enjoy a change in scenery. Of course, be sure that you use caution and common sense while doing this. Avoid crowds and follow all other restrictions and recommended actions to protect your health.
• Take care of yourself! It is important to watch out for any signs of anxiety or sadness brought on by prolonged isolation. If you notice yourself getting restless, do something to wind down. This can be listening to music, taking a bath, or anything else you find relaxing. Also try to avoid too much negative stimulation, especially the news. While it can be tempting to want to stay caught up on everything that is happening, minute by minute, this can be taxing and very anxiety-inducing. If you need to, take a break! Use that time to practice healthy self-care instead.