We’re at a time where most of the world is practicing social distancing, and a lot of us are using the words isolation or quarantine interchangeably, but really, they are quite different.

Self-quarantine versus self-isolation

It’s important to remember that this is a selfless action for the greater good. Self-quarantine is when you feel fine, but you separate yourself from others because there’s a chance you’ve been exposed to the disease.

Isolation is when you avoid people because you have symptoms of a disease and you don’t want to get others sick.
At this point, it is believed many of the world has come in contact with the virus. And for that reason, we all have to experience social distancing and self-quarantine at various levels.

First thing first, wash your hands!

You might have heard this one countless times already but it bears emphasis now. The best way to protect ourselves (other than social distance) is washing our hands often (with hot water and soap) and using hand sanitizer.

Also, remember to sanitize belongings like your phone, remote control, eye glasses, and house keys, as you touch them often too and won’t wash them as often as your hands.

And be kind to each other

It’s easy in such uncertain times to feel unsure how to proceed and lost in the big panic of it all, but helping others is a powerful way to feel better yourself. Use this as an opportunity to be a better neighbor by running errands for the elderly or ill, or just giving them a call to see how they are doing.

Also, there’s a critical shortage of blood donations around the world right now, and so if you can give blood, give it now.

It’s also a great time to donate canned goods and shelf items to a local food bank, because while some of us can stock up on a few weeks of groceries, that’s not an option for many.

Help people keep properly informed

There’s a diet of misinformation and panic around us, and a great way to feel in control of scary information is to have all the information we can. Let’s make sure to to consult trustworthy sources and medical experts and steer away from misinformation or panic driven news.

Having an objective and informed look at any issue will help you consider it from the right perspective and take the appropriate decisions for yourself and others.

Now, onto the survival guide:

Modern day culture is notorious for overemphasizing work and achievement. Not everyone has the privilege of slowing down, so if you are able to do it, be curious about what slowing down means to you and reevaluate the pace at which your life normally flows.

“Consider being productive in a new way: nurturing our relationship with ourselves, our loved ones and our community. Or finish up a fun project that you had to put on hold to keep up with the daily grind,” said Nicole Sartini-Cprek, LPCC, IMPH, a therapist at Bridge Counseling and Wellness in Louisville.

Here are helpful suggestions to make the most of the situation.

Anxiety is at all-time high so let’s not let it impact our immune system

Remember first that anxiety is completely normal in this situation. Accept what is happening and make space for it, even if you don’t like it. So, it is all about finding the right balance.

“Remember that things won’t always be like this. Try to stay grounded and centered as much as possible. Stay informed, but limit exposure to media,” said Marie Coma-Thompson, M.Ed., LPCA, a therapist at Bridge Counseling and Wellness in Louisville.

Once you have acknowledged the anxiety, you are in a better place to take measures to control it.

Dr. Michele C. Reed, also known as the “Fit Doc”, a Board Certified Family Physician, NASM Certified Personal Trainer and Health Coach, is hearing from many patients, particularly around the panic and anxiety they feel. Dr. Reed says it’s important to consider how anxiety impacts us, and can affect our immune system. 

Further, Dr. Reed noted, it’s incredibly important we take this seriously, and follow guidelines set by officials – yes. However, we need to remain positive and uplifting for one another. Recoveries are happening and we will get through this. Panic and fear will only deplete our ability to heal both physically and mentally.

Choose a fearless mantra. Fear is the energy that attracts the very thing that  we want to avoid. “Self-quarantine is the time to remind yourself that you are safe, protected, and the protocols are in place to make certain you are healthy,” said life coach Melena Crawford.

Now, how do we manage to control this anxiety?

1. Do your best to stay in the moment, in the present

Worry and anxiety tax our system and can raise our stress hormones leaving us feeling tired, burdened and even helpless. This is evidently not good for our immune system.

“If we feel that anxiety is taking over, we need to just stand still for 60 seconds, focus on our breathing (close our eyes if necessary) and think about things that bring us back to the moment we are in and focuses our mind on our being,” said Kelly O’Loane, MSN, APRN, FNP, PMHNP-BC, a therapist at Bridge Counseling and Wellness in Louisville.

Whatever technique works to slow and calm your mind down, is a good technique. Most importantly, make sure to remember the positive.

Time to go back to thinking about something you are grateful for and focus on that! This lowers our stress hormones.

Kelly O’Loane

Remember, every time you wash your hands or wipe the counter with a disinfectant, you are doing something helpful (bye, bye helplessness!). Focus on this helpful action and let it guide your thoughts towards a proactive, positive mindset.

Make sure to breathe and try meditation

Not too close to each other perhaps, but please remember that deep breathing helps calm the body and mind.

“For me, square breathing is one of the essential starts to my day and it has become an integral part of my life,” said Jon Willey, the COO of :betr.

We’ve all tried time and time again to get into a meditation routine, but there always seems to be something (ie, life) that gets in the way. Well, now that many of us are staying home during the day we have the perfect chance to follow through on making this a new habit. 

2. Practice self-care (and don’t be afraid to pamper yourself while you are at it)

During this time of social distancing and at-home quarantines, practicing some form of self-care is one of the best things you can do to keep your mind healthy and happy. And self-care is imperative to stress management.

“A calming bubble bath will allow you to clear your mind and will put your body in a state of relaxation, which help your body fortify your immune system, which is imperative right now,” said Heather Marianna, creator of Beauty Kitchen, popular at-home spa and skincare line.

However, self-care can be anything from drawing to lighting up that scented candle that you like. Whatever it means to you, make room for it in your new routine.

It’s super important that this time be respected by you and your peers and family. Just because you are home doesn’t mean you are available 24/7.

Stick with your schedule and take care of you and your family’s needs, but find the time that works for you to be creative, or whatever it is your outlet is!

John Willey

3. Focus on diet and physical health too

We’re all experiencing solitude in solidarity right now, and while it can feel overwhelming, it’s a perfect time to get into some serious self-care.

“Keeping yourself healthy is just as much a mental challenge as it is a physical and nutritional one,” said Charlotte Traas, the Director of Sales Education and Training at New Chapter, Inc. This is a great moment to establish healthy routines by changing our diet and incorporate better nutrients into it.

No more morning commute? “It’s a great time to catch up on your sleep and let your body figure out your own personal circadian rhythm,” said Traas. If you have kids, this can be a stretch, but you can share your kids’ bedtime and wake up with them.

4. Staying active and fit from home

It’s important to keep the body moving to process the anxiety and to stay healthy, so exercise in a way that feels comfortable to you right now.

How to stay physically fit – No gym? No problem! We are creatures of habit and as such we get used to our daily routines and rituals. “This is a great time to try and challenge yourself in other ways. Everything from the 100 day squat challenge to the Nike app. There are plenty of ways to spruce up your fitness routine,” said certified personal trainer Danny Saltos.

Try a new fitness app (many of them offer free trials so you don’t have to commit to something if you don’t like it). Some fitness apps with free trials include Daily Burn, MyYogaWorks, Purebarre, and Glo.

And if you really need it, you can FaceTime your trainer. “Many trainers (myself included) are coming up with creative at home workouts and training clients remotely,” said Saltos. 

5. Keeping yourself motivated and productive 

Now is the time to be organized. One of the best ways to stay motivated and productive is to create a schedule. “A lot of people initially think of this time ‘off’ as a vacation but let’s treat it as an opportunity to stay regimented,” said Saltos.

This is what you can do to get you in the grind:

  1. Order a new calendar/journal from Amazon
  2. Put up a daily calendar in your home. 
  3. Create a schedule for yourself. 
  4. FaceTime meeting check in with friends. 
  5. Have an accountability buddy to keep you in check

6. Staying connected despite isolation

Not a single person isn’t being affected by this virus. With that being said, social distancing does not mean disconnection.

We often forget the number of ways to stay connected and the great abilities our technological advancements offer us.

Danny Saltos

Pick up the phone and call a parent, friend, or co worker. Remember  the phone? A long time ago it was used for a lot more than just texting and Instagram. Speaking to someone can give you that human connection you are seeking.

Facetime with friends and family. Another great way to see and speak to someone who isn’t nearby. Group chat with your friends. Many smartphones offer abilities to call multiple people at one time. Start your own party line. 

For example, DJ Magik Luciano is finding positive ways to deal with the impossibility to work right now. He is organizing livestream parties called the “Living Room Series,” where people can tune in and party with him.

Stay connected with positive influences aka positive people. Now is a great time to connect virtually with people and information sources that uplift you.

“Take a break from coronavirus news and tune into your favorite podcasts, chat up your best friends and family, binge on Netflix comedies- whatever keeps you focused on the positive,” said life coach Melena Crawford.

Other great sources of entertainment out there (without leaving the house)

As coronavirus and uncertain news dominate social media, Museum of the City of New York decided to start #MuseumMomentofZen and museums across the country have now been joining in to offer art and other imagery during these stressful times. More than 100 museums (and counting!) from all over the world have taken part with more than 100,000 likes. 

If you have a public library card, check with your library to see what kind of digital resources they offer! 

On top of that, the Met is hosting nightly live streams. “All “Nightly Met Opera Streams” that will begin at 7:30pm at  metopera.org for 20 hours. 

Feel good in knowing that you’re doing the right thing. Right now, social distancing is an act of self-care and community care. Thank you for your solitude. While we may be isolated from our communities, friends and family, know that while we are alone right now, we are fighting this battle together, and that feels really good.

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