A young woman sitting with her eyes closed and swaddled in blankets, while outside rain lashes against the window.
Graphic by: Valerie Flynn

This all feels incredibly dystopian. National quarantine is scary and hard. Every reaction to this pandemic is absolutely valid. Not everyone is in a safe home, and quarantine isn’t something just “easy” for everyone. None of this is worth down playing, and the biggest victim of social distancing is likely all of our mental health. 

Here is a collection of ideas that might help you and your loved ones get through quarantine a little easier. All of these are found from the CDC, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) and ones I have personally been practicing to make quarantine a little easier.  

The first step to all of this is organization. Each tip in this list requires at least some sort of forethought, but hopefully it will help your days bleed together a little less.  

1. Create a schedule. 

The most important part of this is sticking to it. I don’t mean that you have to know what you’re doing every hour of the day, but have your time blocked into periods. Have blocks for studying or doing something productive, making and eating meals and creating or participating in something that makes you happy. 

2. Practice good dietary habits – Eat healthy  

This is a great time to learn more recipes and determine what works best for your body. In the beginning, it felt nice to me that I could just eat whatever I wanted, but this resulted in sluggishness and feeling very gross in general. I recommend trying to incorporate more vegetables and water into your diet.  

3. Make time for exercise 

Last week I began feeling like the walls were actually closing in, and to combat this, I started walking about two miles every day. Remember to be smart about it, and continue to practice safe social distancing by staying far from others and avoiding touching any surfaces. I’ve been challenging myself to walk as far as I can each day, and it has genuinely become one of my new favorite habits. I never cared much for exercise before, but now it feels as if it has a new purpose because it makes me feel like I have some sort of freedom. 

4. Section off your area 

One of the worst things you can do for your work or study habits is trying to do them in the same area that you also sleep or relax in. Try not to work in your bed, just because it decreases productivity and half of being genuinely proactive is subconscious. Get yourself in the right headspace for getting things done by creating a space in your room or another part of your house where you only do work.

5. Let yourself relax without the guilt 

This is an extremely stressful situation, no matter where you are or what is going on. Give yourself that space to accept what is going on or even to grieve. Play games, do crafts, write or draw, just take on the mindset of exploring familiar or new that might bring you comfort during this time. 

6. Get dressed every day  

Even without true purpose, just getting out of pajamas has often given me the mental energy to feel like I can get some work done. I’m not saying be uncomfortable, but if you have a zoom meeting to attend or work that needs to be done, follow that natural schedule and need for different attire. It surprised me how much this changed my mindset.  

7. Limit screen time and take breaks from social media 

To avoid becoming completely overwhelmed by every piece of news coming in every second, give yourself a break. Take time to read a book or participate in an activity that doesn’t require a screen. Not only will this give your eyes a break, but it’s helped me a lot to feel like I’m retaining some sort of productive cognitive activity. For me, this means making time every day to read at least a chapter of a book. For you, it might mean drawing or some sort of creative activity.  

8. Connect with friends

According to the CDC, one of the best things to do is to maintain contact with the people you love. Zoom has provided a lot of opportunity, but I also suggest using FaceTime or any social media platform that helps you feel closer to your loved ones. This helps me a lot with feeling less isolated and more grounded to my life, especially with how fast everything has changed.