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Resilience During Quarantine

We are at the point in the quarantine when people are starting to get cabin fever. The more extroverted among us have been feeling this from the outset, but now some of the less committed introverts are starting to feel the claustrophobia.

How to get over the hump and move with grace into the next phase of the quarantine? First, remember that this too shall pass. This new normal isn’t forever. The feelings of normalcy are the mind’s way of coping with unnatural circumstances. Like when you are forbidden to participate in a certain activity because of, say, a doctor’s orders, you start to develop a feeling of revulsion for the thing you used to love. This is the mind dealing with the loss. Similarly some people are finding that seeing someone out on the street without a face mask is repellent, when just a week ago not wearing a mask was normal. This is a regular and perfectly natural coping mechanism. Soon we will no longer need to wear masks and we will wonder if we ever really felt strange seeing unmasked people.

Some of the best methods of coping with the forced quarantine are: exercise, yoga, meditation, reading, taking up a new hobby, challenging yourself, and maintaining old habits. Wake up at your usual time. Bathe daily. Put on nice clothes even if it’s just to sit at home. Think about a book that you’ve always wanted to read but never had the time. Download it and really get into it. Take stretching breaks at regular intervals. Eat healthy foods. Avoid junk because it is easy to snack on when you are bored. You have the time to prepare something healthier to eat. Take that time! Don’t drink more than you would on a normal weeknight. 

Or really challenge yourself. Learn a new language. Brush up on that language you studied in high school but immediately forgot about. Learn to knit. Study some branch of knowledge that you have otherwise not encountered before. We have all been reading about the virus, so read about some other branch of medicine. Or astronomy. Or history. Choose a specific period of history and really get into it (you can’t go wrong with Tudor England!). Watch an opera. Push your own personal envelope. Challenge yourself. You will find the hump behind you in no time at all.

David Salvage, MD, FAPM

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