How Not To Go Insane During Quarantine

What the health!? The magnitude of the impact the coronavirus currently has on our lives exceeded what most of us would have imagined just one month ago. The people who are healthy and not in the risk group may only have realized the seriousness of the situation when increasing number of businesses and schools were forced to shut down. Unless you know someone who belongs to the risk group or have health problems yourself, the situation may still feel a bit surreal.

It has been four weeks now since Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts closed its doors. The first week was announced as a semester break so the school could figure out how to proceed with remote learning. In the second week the studies already continued via Zoom meetings.

As it is now a completely different lifestyle, it is important to adapt in order to stay healthy. This article gives input on how to design your day in quarantine to stay healthy as a design management student.

Structure

Before the quarantine, the class schedule forced you into a clear structure during the week. You woke up early and had to go to bed at a reasonable time. Depending on the duration of your commute this resulted in very limited free time.

As we are no longer allowed to go to school, this strict schedule disappeared overnight. Suddenly, we have so much more time on our hands. We can plan every day to our convenience, apart from scheduled zoom meetings. As long as there is a working internet connection you can attend class from anywhere in the world, even Mexico.

It now requires discipline to create your own schedule. And it is important for your health to do so.

It helps to plan your days in advance. It does not have to entain every minute but a general idea of what needs to be done and at what time. Creating routines such as a morning and evening routine help keeping your days structured. To start your day, it might be a good idea to do the same routine you did when leaving for school, including dressing to leave the house. This will help get you into a state of productivity when required. Although, you may shift your daily rhythm to your liking. As a night owl myself, I am now finally able to adjust my schedule completely to my preferences. Furthermore, eat healthy and regularly. Plan breaks for meals instead of eating all throughout the day, unless you want to gain weight, obviously. Also, create a habit of exercising because during quarantine you will be much less active in general.

It may be a challenge to differentiate study time with leisure time when studying from home. In order to avoid getting stressed out or overworking yourself, set clear work time and time off. During time off, relax and do not think about your pending tasks.

Physical Health

It is well known now that you should stay at home. When before you at least walked to school and back, now you don’t have to move at all if you don’t feel like it. This means that it is especially important to get moving.

Physical activity is directly linked to your physical but also mental well-being. Immediately after even a moderate physical activity, adults can benefit from reduced short-term feelings of anxiety. When exercising on a regular basis, you will reduce your risk of depression and anxiety and you will sleep better (CDC, 2020).

At the very least, go for a 30-minute fast-paced walk every day. Paul T. Williams, a statistician at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, published a study about the importance of walking fast versus slow. You can read about it on the New York Times blog:

Just make sure to be aware of the health recommendations regarding the coronavirus and keep some distance between yourself and other people.

If you feel like doing more, especially if you were more active before, I suggest you look up a home workout according to your goals on the internet. If your goal is building muscle and increasing overall strength, I recommend you this full-body bodyweight program:

Jeff Cavaliere is a pro athlete trainer and physical therapist and owner of Athlean-X. His youtube channel offers countless valuable videos on strength training, nutrition, stretching and much more.

As we now spend a lot of time sitting to attend online class and work on assignments, it is very important to create an ergonomic workspace. To sit on the couch attending a Zoom meeting can be relaxing and is not wrong. But when you spend several hours on the computer, it is necessary to keep your health in mind. Especially your back will thank you for not sitting in a crouched position for a prolonged time. Additionally, sitting straight and ergonomically can help your workflow. If you suffer from back pain or want to prevent it, I suggest to you these three small exercises which you can do every day:

Check out the youtube channel of pain-specialist Roland Liebscher-Bracht for more quality videos about pain.

You are what you eat. Eating healthy should be the norm for you regardless of quarantine or not. Bad food decreases your wellbeing, physically and mentally. Eating lots of vegetables and fruit in a balanced diet will make you feel better.

One of the most important aspects of health in general is sleep. In terms of quality as well as quantity. If you create an individually structured day as advised above, it should be no problem to plan at least 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep per night. With the quantity locked down, it is now about quality. There are a few things that can help you increase the quality of your nights rest. Firstly, regularity. Try to go to sleep and wake up at around the same time every night, weekend or not. Your body will recognize and appreciate the pattern, and you will feel more rested. Secondly, create an evening routine which you repeat everyday before going to bed. This will let your body and mind know that you are about to go to sleep and helps them shut down. And thirdly, reduce screen time before bed. Avoid using your phone or computer at least half an hour before bed, the earlier the better. Instead, you could read a book or write something.

Mental Health

Having this much time at home at your disposal, all of a sudden, means that you will need to find ways to pass it. Ideally, you already have hobbies you can practice at home. If not, this might be the time to start. I will give a few recommendations which will support you to stay grounded during these tumultuous times.

I want to start off with creativity. Creativity is an expression of yourself and helps you keep connected to and discover yourself. We are studying design management, which means we already practice creativity at school in some way. If you don’t already have a creative hobby, start one. Create some art, design something or cook a new (healthy, mind you) meal. Learn an instrument or how to sing. Pick up knitting. Start your youtube channel. There are endless opportunities. And the restriction of staying at home might even make you more creative in finding a way to express it.

The circumstances around COVID-19 are obviously harming many people in different ways. But it is also an ideal opportunity to practice gratitude. Take time to appreciate all the things you did that were normal to you and are now not possible anymore. Be grateful for everything going for you. It’s more than enough. Look into yourself and reflect on your life. Did you live your life consciously or do you feel like you were breezing through life? Find the right place in your mind where you are happy and grateful. Try mindfulness meditation if you have not yet.

Maybe having this much alone time is not easy for you and you cope with excessive consumption of unhealthy food, media, alcohol, cigarettes or other drugs. Avoid this and instead create a healthy lifestyle with the tips from this blog post. Taking breaks from reading and watching the news may help, if they create fear and stress in you.

Eventually, I want to address our social life. In the media Social Distancing is being promoted. I think that is worded poorly and should be called Physical Distancing. We are social animals and if we distance ourselves from others, it has a negative effect on our mental and ultimately physical health. Keep in contact with the people in your circle. The possibilities are there, we are connected to most people around the globe. Don’t isolate yourself socially, but physically.

 

 

Sources:
CDC (Centers for Disease Control), (2020). Benefits of Physical Activity. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/index.htm accessed 10.04.2020

1 Reply to “How Not To Go Insane During Quarantine”

  1. Thank you for raising awareness to this topic, Pius! I really appreciate the factors you have selected; I think they are highly relevant and a lot of people can relate to it. Especially, the lack of physical activity and the state of mind during quarantine.

    I totally agree with you that some sort of structure is needed in order to have a productive experience while working remotely. However, I think some other points may also be important to consider despite following a routine. For example, how to create a nice atmosphere in your home office. Since we are spending much more time at home as we used to, it could be helpful to stimulate the productivity as well as creativity with the right atmosphere, this could be supported by calming music and the right lighting.

    Another factor that comes into my mind is the importance of boundaries between work and home domain. I just recently read a paper, where they have claimed that a lot of people facing difficulties in setting boundaries while working from home. According to this paper, due to the quick accessibility through personal communication devices people are have a difficult time with switching off work. Furthermore, people who working from home experience some kind of guilt while taking a break. This aspect could come into play concerning your suggestion of taking breaks regularly. Therefore, it would have been interesting for you to look into some behavioural strategies that could prevent work-related matters from invading into leisure time.

    In terms of physical activity, I think you’ve hit the sweet spot. It is great that you have made the link between the level of physical activity and mental health. In addition, the tip to implement 30 min. walks in your daily life is a nice idea! Did you know, there are also studies that highlights the advantages of taking multiple 10 min. walks a day especially after a meal instead of one long walk? This might be interesting for you.

    Moreover, I really liked your statement on reducing screen time. Since we have to work from home, we spend so much more time in front of our displays. It makes absolute sense to try to reduce it as much as possible and to read a book instead. Furthermore, I was happy to read that you mentioned the practice of gratefulness. To have the ability to be mindful is a crucial and rare skill nowadays. As you mentioned, there are multiple ways to practice this skill. However, I would like to add one more. Have you heard about the exercise where you write down three things you are grateful for everyday? I think this is really valuable, especially when we start to think about certain small things we are grateful for, in contrast to “Family, Friends, Home.”

    To conclude, your post is very well structured and offers a nice overview of the topic discussed. Even though I would have wished to have some more in depth information about certain issues (e.g. boundaries between work-home domain) I truly enjoyed reading your blog. In addition, your style of writing is a perfect fit for a blot post. Good job, Pius!

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