One of the goals for this pandemic is to protect ourselves and our loved ones from contracting the coronavirus. Thus, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) mandated strict quarantine protocols to help prevent coronavirus spread.
Quarantine is a period of isolation for a person suspected to be exposed or is positive for a contagious disease. Coronavirus, as we know, is a highly infectious disease, even without the symptoms. This health protocol helps prevent coronavirus spread, and you can protect your family and loved ones from acquiring the infection through social isolation.
In addition to the anxiety and uncertainty the coronavirus brings, going into quarantine for how many days may seriously affect a person’s mental health, especially if they’re in an unfamiliar place.
Are you in quarantine now? Read this article to protect your mental health. Do you know a loved one in isolation? Send them this article to help them protect their mental health while in quarantine.
COVID-19 quarantine protocols are imposed on infected individuals or those who have been or are in close contact with a COVD-19-positive patient. People who recently traveled from another place with widespread transmission are also advised to self-quarantine for 14 days.
Why 14 days? The incubation period of COVID-19 (the time between exposure to the virus and the onset of the symptoms) is 5–6 days, but at times may reach up to 14 days. That is why quarantine should be at least 14 days.
Even if you tested negative for the disease, you still need to be quarantined, especially if you came in close contact with a coronavirus-positive person (at least 15 minutes and within six feet) or have traveled from a place with high cases of coronavirus.
- During this period, stay at home and isolate yourself from family members. Use different utensils and have a bathroom designated for you. Avoid common places such as the kitchen or the living room. Stay in a dedicated room for you where no one else comes in and out.
- Be mindful of any signs of COVID-19 (e.g., fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or above, cough, shortness of breath, and other symptoms of COVID-19). If you feel any symptoms or other health problems, do not proceed to a hospital or doctor’s clinic as you may expose other people. Call 911 or the hospital first to know the health measures to be followed.
It is important to practice social distancing by being six feet apart from other people because you’ll never know who is the carrier of the infection. You may be a carrier, even without the coughing or fever, and expose your loved ones. Or you might get exposed to a carrier who does not have symptoms, and your health may be at risk.
Observing social distancing protects you and the people around you. Avoid social gatherings, big crowds, and stay at home as much as possible. With this simple gesture, you are helping in flattening the COVID-19 curve.
Being isolated for 14 days is a situation you have no control over. In addition to being worried about your physical health, your mental well-being is also at risk of getting affected, especially if you find it hard to be alone.
Your daily schedule gets disrupted, you can’t feel the warmth of a loved one’s hug, and face-to-face interaction is prohibited. This period of isolation may have negative consequences on a person’s mental health. People in quarantine usually experience psychological distress or mental health problems like:
- Feelings of sadness or loneliness
- Feelings of fear, anger, worry, confusion, or anxiety
- Sleeping problems
- Feelings of depression
- Post-traumatic stress symptoms
- Emotional exhaustion or disturbance
- High levels of stress
- Low energy levels or gloomy feelings
- Mood changes such as irritability
- Substance and alcohol dependency
The possible impact of seclusion may vary from person to person. Some may manage to stay in isolation without feeling sad, while others may experience psychological issues. This will depend on the person’s emotional coping, mental resilience, and personality.
Stay one step ahead by promoting self-care and following the tips on protecting your emotional and mental health while in quarantine. Fourteen days is just a number. You can still stay productive while staying physically and mentally healthy.
Here are some steps you can take to protect your mental wellness and manage stress during quarantine. It’s better to try all these tips before you find yourself drowning in sadness or overwhelming boredom.
One of the main concerns while in quarantine is sleeping problems. Being isolated in a room without much physical activity and mostly staying in bed may affect your sleeping patterns. In other people’s cases, sleeping in an unfamiliar environment may affect their sleep. Remember that the brain’s hormones that regulate sleeping functions are sensitive to changes, such as changes in your activities, mood, and stress levels.
It is essential to establish a sleep routine. As much as possible, sleep and wake up at the same time every day. Avoid caffeine or day naps if these affect falling asleep at night.
Avoid too much social media, especially at night. Drink warm milk at night to fall asleep, open your windows during the daytime to regulate your circadian rhythm, and exercise so you can feel physical exhaustion.
Experiencing a significant change in your daily routines can make you feel unproductive and sad. Or, if you’re not used to staying home for days, you may find the transition challenging. But creating and sticking to a schedule in your daily routine is possible.
Stick to your established sleeping routine, follow your usual working hours if you can work from home, take time to exercise, dedicate leisure time, don’t work too much, don’t miss out on a meal, and don’t overeat.
Exercise is crucial not just for your physical health but for mental health as well. Studies show that even just two weeks of being physically inactive can lead to stress and may negatively impact mental health.
You don’t need a gym or exercise machines to stay active. Even with just the limited space in your room, there are many home workouts you can try. You can try exercise videos, fitness apps, or join an online exercise class. Cleaning is also a good exercise, as long you stay in your designated isolation space.
Being isolated may prohibit face-to-face interaction, but it doesn’t mean you can’t stay in touch with the people you love. Harness the power of social media by messaging your friends, video calling your significant other, or playing online games with a family member. You can also join support groups or forums with people who are or have experienced being in quarantine.
Staying in contact with the people you love is critical in taking care of your mental health. Do your part and reach out to friends or family members in quarantine. People in quarantine should not feel isolated to protect their mental health.
Think positive thoughts to produce positive emotions. Also, take the quarantine as an occasion to empower yourself. Instead of seeing quarantine as a time of isolation, think of it as a time of taking care of your physical and mental health.
Have a positive mindset and tell yourself that you’re doing your part in keeping everyone safe. Make use of the quarantine period as a time for yourself. Re-organize your closet, learn a new skill, read a book, and be productive.
It is important to keep yourself updated with the latest news, but not too much. Watching too much news, especially awful news, can have negative impacts on your mental health. If you haven’t noticed, most news on the media is bad news and can be toxic. News about the COVID outbreak, in particular, will just cause you to stress out.
As a result, you may experience fatigue, anxiety, depression, and sleeping problems. Limit watching or reading the news, especially about the COVID pandemic. Avoid watching the news, especially before bedtime, because it may cause anxiety.
Also, avoid reading fake news. Only believe news from reliable sources. Like bad news, fake news can cause you to stress out.
Take care of your mental health by talking to a counselor or therapist. You don’t have to leave your room because online counseling or phone counseling services are readily available now.
Talking to a mental health professional online or on the phone does not differ much from a session inside a therapist’s office. You can still talk about your mental health concerns, discuss what’s bothering you, and receive the support you need.
Are you feeling depressed or lonely because you are quarantined? You can talk to many therapists on the phone or online. If you’re from Kentucky or Ohio area, you can book an appointment with Kentucky Counseling Center.