Productive Ways to Stay Sane When You’re Cooped Up Indoors
How to Stay Sane When You're Cooped Up Indoors
You’re bored. You’ve locked yourself at home, questioning when venturing outside for groceries or to do laundry won’t feel like a dangerous covert mission. Your hands are cracked and raw from the repeated handwashing, you’ve binged the entirety of a multi-seasoned show and now, you’re just left wondering what else is there to do.
Being cooped up is tough, especially when it’s by force. Even with roommates or family members around, your day-to-day can leave you feeling stagnant. What forms of entertainment are there when you’re stuck inside the same place for most, if not all, of the day?
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Sheltering-in-place can leave you feeling loopy after an extended period of time, sure, but there are ways to make the most of this ongoing self-isolation period in order to get through this coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
AskMen, with the help of some experts and specialists, put together a guide of sorts to help you keep your sanity intact at home while our world gets itself back in order.
1. Keep Up With a Routine
Even if you’re getting work done from the couch, that doesn’t mean you should stay in the same pair of crusty old sweats for seven days straight. Get up, brush your teeth and put on some new clothes in order to have the day-to-day feel as normal as any other.
“Try to maintain as much of your normal routines, in this abnormal situation,” says disaster mental health specialist Dr. Gary Brown, PHD. “People really need a feeling that at least some of their life feels normal. It helps to anchor us.”
Even under the circumstances, Dr. LeslieBeth Wish, psychotherapist and author of “Training Your Love Intuition” suggests operating as you would if heading in to a regular day at the office.
“Get up early, shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, take your vitamins, and do anything else you normally would do if you were getting ready for your day,” she suggests. “To help spur you on, make a to-do list of your routine tasks, and check off the items each day.”
2. Have a Conversation With Someone Other Than Yourself
This is especially important for all those living that studio or 1-bedroom lifestyle.
Social distancing might be what’s recommended, but that doesn’t mean you should close yourself off from the outside world entirely. Now’s the time to maintain (or even expand) upon the contact you had with family, friends and colleagues via FaceTime, Google Hangouts or other types of video services.
“Just make meaningful contact,” says Wish. “Arrange to talk later in the day or night. Get creative: If you and someone like the same television show, arrange to virtually watch it together, talk or chat during commercials or after the program. Just connect.”
3. Break a Sweat
With gyms and other boutique fitness studios shut down for the foreseeable future, the only alternative location for breaking a sweat is your own home. If you’re not someone who owns an array of weights, medicine balls and other various workout equipment, that doesn’t mean you can’t get your body moving doing menial tasks.
“For example, use the stairs,” says Wish. “Do the laundry — the more the better. Clean out a cabinet, wash the dishes or prepare a meal. Just do something that gets your body moving with effort. Movement is another form of medication that can defend against depression.”
Clinical psychologist Joshua Klapow, Ph.D, also points out that keeping up with basic health habits while stuck at home will “keep your body strong, help you fight off the stress and give you the grit to deal with being cooped up.”
“Eating healthy, exercising every day, getting regular sleep, hydrating and practicing stress reducing activities will not only boost your immune system which is critical right now, but it will help you stay more patient, more tolerant and more sane during these strange and unique times,” he points out.
4. Establish Rules for Yourself and Whomever You Live With
For those sharing their space with others for the time being, structure is key.
As Klapow puts it, “this is where cabin fever really can set in,” and now’s not the time to take out your feelings of irritation and anger on those who, quite frankly, aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
“You may have roommates, a spouse, kids and everyone is together under one roof,” he says. “It’s important to talk before the frustration arises about space, the need for time alone and the recognition that there may be frustration that builds. Everyone should have access to some space where they can go to get away, even if that space is rotated through everyone who is living there.”
5. Be Active in Managing Anxiety
Now’s not the time to question why you’re feeling this way.
The uncertainties of the future can leave anyone a bit on edge, but right now, it’s important to know that you aren’t the only one with that anxious pit in your stomach. That said, you need to be proactive in keeping it in check.
“Anxiety is normal, but it has a way of building gradually to the point where you never really feel calm at any point,” notes Klapow. “Working to bring you back down to a relaxed state frequently during the day is important. Taking a walk, some time outside, some time to breathe, to meditate, pray, listen to music. Anything that helps you relax should be done frequently, and not once you feel like you are having an anxiety attack.”
On a similar note, if you’re someone who is tuned into the news at all hours of the day, desperately seeking a hopeful update, maybe spice up your programming to something that isn’t such a mood killer.
“Don't check the media more than twice a day to learn about the virus,” suggests Wish. “Any major announcements will be available to you on television, your phone and the internet. Checking more often is counterproductive because it makes you feel less in control.”
6. Remember That This Isn’t Permanent
“Remind yourself over and over that this is a temporary situation,” says Klapow. “It may be prolonged but it is being done to stop the spread of a virus, not to be a way of life. That perspective will help.”
Whether we’re stuck indoors for one more month or three, whether we turn ghostly pale and suffer a setback on plans for a rockin’ 2020 summer bod, remember that at some point, things will turn around. With this being such an unprecedented time for many, there is this sense of wondering whether life will ever go back to the way they used to be. To ease your worry, the answer is yes, it will. Unfortunately, we just have to be patient.
“It is going to end at some point,” says Brown, “and we will return to our lives. Things may be different for many of us, but we will have survived. That will be something to celebrate!”
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