Professor, Dr. philos
Specialist in clinical psychology,
Clinic for crisis psychology, Bergen, Norway
More and more people are required to stay in home quarantine or in isolation with possible or proven corona-infection. Many are concerned about whether they have infected others or are infected themselves. Studies on the psychological consequences of such quarantines show significant negative consequences in the form of fear, anger, intrusive thoughts, etc. (Brooks and co-workers, 2020). The stress factors in this situation include boredom, inadequate information, problems with access to household goods, financial loss and stigma. Here is some advice on how to deal with the psychological stress of isolation.
French translation here (published at Travail & Paroles)
How to best live with quarantine?
Remember that you are performing a service to society
Quarantining helps others. You help reduce the possibility of others getting sick. You show collective social responsibility through your altruistic actions. If you think this way, you will be more able to maintain self-respect and to prevent stigma. When the quarantine period is over, other people should keep this in mind and not keep away from those of you who have performed this duty.
Stay active, establish routines
Activities, routines and structure give the day shape and predictability, and discourage helplessness. In an uncertain situation, it provides stability and security. Physical exercise, personal hygiene, meals at regular times and other regular activities contribute to order and structure in a new and unclear situation.
Social contact is an important activity
Social media allows you to chat and see others via Facebook, Skype and other social media. This social contact becomes especially important during quarantine. «Stay in touch»! Make sure this is a fixed point in your daily schedule.
Take control of worrying thoughts
It is normal to have worrying thoughts about one’s infection status. If such thoughts take up a lot of space, you can try to control them better. Distraction brings down the turmoil. Watch movies or series on tablets or TV, play video games, do crosswords, Sudoko etc., or use Facetime / Skype to talk to others without letting the coronavirus be the main topic.
You can also postpone your worry. Make room for a set time (10-20 minutes) where you can worry as much as you want. When worries emerge outside of this time, you can say to yourself, «This is something to think about in my worry time, not now.» If this is repeated often enough, this thought process becomes automatic. Do not schedule your worry time late at night. If worries appear, do not get annoyed at yourself, just repeat that you will think about them in your worry time.
A few news updates a day are enough
We know from those who experience tragedy that spending too much time watching or reading news afterwards affects them negatively. If you shield yourself from constantly checking the media for news about the virus, you will find it easier to remain calm. A regular daily update from a reliable source is enough.
Brooks, S. K., Webster, R. K., Smith, L. E., Woodland, L., Wessely, S., Greenberg, N., & Rubin, G. J. (2020). The psychological impact of quarantine and how to reduce it: Rapid review of the evidence. The Lancet, 0(0). https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30460-8
This is a translation from a printed feature in the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten .