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How to Deal With a Quarantine

Are you prepared for a quarantine?
Are you prepared for a quarantine?

With millions of people being asked to quarantine themselves, many are finding they aren't mentally prepared for the isolation. The sudden disconnect from everything they're used to can be jarring. Add to that the uncertainty of how long this will last, and what will happen if this goes on for an extended period of time.

It's important to make a plan. The first couple of days may seem like fun. You can binge-watch a few guilty pleasures, catch up on your sleep and eat like it's a holiday. But after that, you need to start introducing some structure back into your day. Follow these simple steps.

Figure out what you have on hand. Take inventory of the things you use throughout the day. Then beside each item, write how long it will last. This tells you exactly how long you can remain isolated, and helps you figure out what you'll need, before you run out. It'll also help you figure out what things you can stretch out (like junk food) and what things you need a plan to replenish (like medications).

Make a schedule. If you're working from home, figure out when you'll be starting and stopping. Be sure to include breaks and meals.

If you're not working, it's even more important to establish a routine and fill the time. Decide when you'll be going to go to bed, when you'll get up, when you'll eat and when you'll exercise.

Along with the schedule make a list of projects you've always wanted to do. Organize things, deep clean, write letters to loved ones and catch up on your reading. I have a friend that's started learning a new language and another that's painting again. Think about making time for hobbies you had stopped or new ones you want to pursue.

Put those projects and hobbies into your schedule. Write the schedule out and include some time for yourself in the evening. Remember to plan for excursions outside (if necessary) to get groceries or medical care.

Don't ignore sleep. Isolation and depression can leave people feeling tired and listless. Go to bed and get up at your regular time, so when things return to normal you don't have to make huge adjustments. Wash your hands, clean yourself up and tuck yourself into bed. Schedule things so you get at least 8 hours of good sleep every night.

Get dressed like normal every morning. Don't just wash your hands, wash everything. Take a shower, brush your teeth, comb your hair and put on clothes you would normally wear during the day. Stick to the routines you've grown accustomed to. What we're all dealing with is a very scary situation, but spiraling down into a pit of despair won't help you or anybody else. Getting ready for the day is a way to remind yourself that even as dire as this situation may be, it's still temporary.

Don't get lost in the news. Set specific times when you can turn on the television for updates and when you have to turn it off. The same is true for online news and social media. News programs tend to hype the drama, which can increase anxiety and make you feel worse. That's why you need to limit your exposure to them. Call and catch up with friends and family. When you're feeling stressed, take a few minutes to practice progressive muscle relaxation and clear your head.

Spend 10-20 minutes outside in the sun, if you can do it safely. Let your body absorb some vitamin D and enjoy the fresh air. If you live in a big city that's under a lockdown, hang your head out a window, relax on a balcony or sit on the porch.

Cook some real food and use the fresh stuff first. Don't get suckered into grazing on convenient junk food or eating everything out of a can. You need all the vitamins and energy you can get from fresh fruits and vegetables. If you're not working, use the extra time to try some healthy recipes and freeze the leftovers. You'll save a lot of money over pre-packaged meals or ordering take-out all the time. We've posted hundreds of healthy recipes, available free online at WeCookFit.com.

Schedule at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. If you don't have any equipment in your home, you can go on youtube.com and look for “bodyweight workouts.” You'll get hundreds of options, from 10-minute intense cardio sessions to hour-long full-body routines. Be careful to maintain good form and stop doing anything that causes sharp or sudden pain.

Plan things to look forward to. If every day is the same as the last, it can get pretty boring. Invite a friend to have a virtual dinner with you over facetime. Join an online book club. Use apps like zoom to remotely attend a 12-step meeting. Make a plan and things will get better when it's over. Stay safe.

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CAUTION: Check with your doctor before
beginning any diet or exercise program.