By now, every single one of us on this planet is going through some form of quarantine and isolation. For some fortunate enough to be quarantined with family members, loved ones, or close friends, maybe quarantine isn’t as bad. But, if you’re like me and somebody who lives alone, isolation can lead to depression.
And you know, traditional thinking says well change your habits, change your routine, start exercising, focus on a project. Yeah, there’s a lot of things you can do while you’re in quarantine. Going into this quarantine now, I’m on my I think 7th or 8th week here in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
And yeah, I have a lot of things that I could do, I could work on an online course, make videos, or make blog posts. I could take up a new hobby. I could practice my Spanish, get better at my Spanish. I could exercise, and I could meditate every day. I can do all kinds of things to keep myself busy, I’m pretty good at it. But, what do you do when the isolation just creates loneliness and depression?
I think it’s pretty fair to say at this point this quarantine is forcing every single one of us to have to go inward and look at ourselves—really face our truths—the good ones, the bad ones, the right ones, the wrong ones, the ugly ones, the pretty ones.
All of this is a unique experience for everybody around the world. If you’re choosing such as I do to look at your truths, your ugly, not-so-pretty, things that you think and say to yourself (maybe not out loud) that you’ve been avoiding and that stuff’s coming up because you don’t have a choice. And perhaps you’re isolated and alone yeah it can get depressing. And you know what? That’s okay. It really is!
I don’t mean to sound cliche, but if you go inward. Use this time to think about who you are and what you want. And if you have a desire to improve and be better, you’re going to have to face this stuff. We all are.
We’re not going to go back to the way things were, and it didn’t work. It’s not working. Look at what’s happening in the world during this quarantine. All over the world, especially here in the Northern Hemisphere of the Americas, it seems chaotic.
Look at Instagram, look at Facebook, and all your friends are posting their videos on their creative projects, in the kitchen, doing all these cool things, exercising, or taking up [other] new ways of keeping themselves busy and inspired. Some people are starting entirely new careers from home because going back to that nine-to-five isn’t going to work anymore.
This pandemic is having every one of us create a new reality through our internal creativity and create a new life. And, my best guess is that this isn’t going to go away anytime soon. So yeah, it can get depressing. And if you’re isolated and alone, it can get discouraging.
So I want to share with you some ideas on how to address this depression from a heart-centered, self-caring perspective.
1) Self-Care, Be Gentle with Yourself
First, I would say to you, be gentle with yourself, take it easy. I come from the culture in the United States where everything is “go, go, go,”—be productive, be motivated. If you don’t, you’re doing something wrong
One of the things I love about Mexico is the people here share that Italian “Il dolce far niente philosophy of the “sweetness of doing nothing.” Living here has forced me to unravel my entire belief system on what is success, what is productivity, what is it that makes me a good person. If I’m not accomplishing something, there is something wrong, just isn’t true.
The reality is that, as human beings, we just need to “be.” It’s not human “doing.” We don’t really need to do anything, except breathe and live in the moment. That’s easier said than done. Especially when all of these ugly truths are coming up. Right?
So I say to you, be gentle on yourself. If you don’t feel like exercising today and you just want to lay in bed, okay! This too shall pass. But be aware of it. Embrace it and accept it in the moment. Okay, my body just wants to stay in bed and watch Netflix, watch porn, sleep, think about the past, project into the future, or meditate. Permit yourself to do that, but be aware of it consciously. All of it, whatever your activities are while you’re at home. And if you find yourself getting sad and depressed, embrace it, accept it. It’s a part of who you are.
2) Create a New Quarantine Routine
I have a lot of friends here in Mexico who traditionally worked six days a week, 10 hour days, and for many of them, they’ve done that routine their whole life. And now suddenly, in quarantine, their whole world is turned upside down. And that’s probably true for a lot of people around the globe.
I think the reality is this quarantine is showing us that going back to that old way, as we would say in the United States, the “nine-to-five routine,” is not ever going to be what it used to be. It’s going to be different. So then, my second suggestion is to create a new routine.
So while you’re in quarantine you can project on your near future, and the ultimate future after
this quarantine, and say, “Okay, I am going to create this new better-improved version of my routine for the future.” Or, how about just create a new routine for right now?
So, for example, I have a checklist on a chalkboard in my kitchen and initially had all of my big accomplishments and goals. I was going to use this time during quarantine to create a new course, finish an online course, get a certification, and learn Spanish. All these big projects. But, they seemed very overwhelming and daunting. So, I scaled it back.
3) Make a Manageable To Do List
Now my to-do list includes the time I get up in the morning, have coffee, have breakfast, do my meditation, take a shower, have lunch, my clients work, my work for my projects, make a blog post, make a video. And, it’s not like I have to check every single one of those things off every day. But here, the trick is, just like anything, for example, take it one step at a time.
Just like exercise, the hardest part is getting started. So why not give yourself a quarantine routine? Start with getting up in the morning, make your bed, go to the bathroom, meditate (for 3 to 10 minutes). Make those little details part of your routine, start small. There’s nothing wrong if your accomplishment, for now, is just to get through the day. Tackle the first little thing and then the next one, baby steps.
Get out a piece of paper, write it down. Start from the time you wake up, whatever that is for you. From the time you wake up, till the time you go to bed. Do it hour by hour, or half-hour, and just write it down. Plan your day.
What time do I want to get started—take a shower, get dressed, have breakfast, meditate, exercise, and go from there. Work, time for new projects, lunch, a nap, Netflix, dog walk, dinner, bedtime, etc. You get the idea. But, most importantly, schedule time for the things that bring you joy. Finally, schedule yourself a good solid night’s sleep, make it part of your new quarantine routine.
4) Start with Little Things
The next thing I suggest is as you’re creating your new quarantine routine, I suggest doing little things every day. For example, when you get up, make your bed, shower, and get dressed. You would be surprised how these tiny little tasks can change your entire routine.
Imagine you’re getting dressed and ready to go to work, clean the house, make your bed, do the dishes, and sweep the floor. It doesn’t have to be perfect (perfection is an illusion—practice makes great, not perfect). So get dressed, make the bed, wash the dishes, get yourself organized as if you were going to your job routine. But this is your new quarantine routine. So just start with the basics.
5) Do Things that Bring You Joy
Finally, the last thing I want to share with you is doing small things that bring you joy—self-care and self-indulgent. Things that give you pleasure do those things that just make you happy. Even if that’s cooking or cleaning the house. I actually like cleaning my house.
Maybe that’s drawing a picture, learning a new song, watching a favorite show, sitting outside on the patio with a coffee, or hanging out with your dog or cat. If something brings you joy, focus on those things. Make them part of your quarantine routine—making sure that you’re conscious and mindful of all of the little activities every day. And finally, give yourself time to meditate.
When I say meditate, you don’t need to be some perfect mediator who gets into that stillness and silence. Just sit for five minutes with your back straight, close your eyes, take a deep breath in through your nose, hold it, and exhale out through your mouth. And just repeat this, slowing your breath. Focus on your breath.
If your mind still wants to go, let it. Keep doing this for about three or four or five minutes to focus. Pay attention to what shows up in your mind. It’s coming into your awareness for a reason. The point is to slow down for a moment, take advantage of this quarantine. If for nothing else, to be present and aware of every moment in your life.
Conclusion: How to Cope with Isolation and Quarantine Depression
In these challenging times, these little things, from self-care to creating a new routine (a quarantine routine), to making your bed, taking a shower, to doing the things you love, these little things will help.
If you’re just having a bad day and want to stay in bed, then do it. Just be okay with it. Your body is telling you that’s what it needs. So do it. This too shall pass.
This quarantine is also an opportunity for us to go inward and face our truths. Take a deep breath, embrace what’s coming up, accept it, surrender, and then let it go.
Quarantine Depression Bonus Tip
Don’t spend too much time on your phone, especially right now. And all your positive, motivated, and outgoing friends who are posting their productive activities during quarantine—exercising, cooking, vlogging, or other activities—just remember, you only see a snapshot, an albeit well-produced version, a moment of their life.
I’m going to guess that they posted that five to 20-minute video early in the morning. And you’ve been sitting on your phone all day scrolling through and seeing your friends having this wonderful, joyful time in quarantine. But you keep seeing that video over and over again.
So, it just seems like that’s all they’re doing. And I bet, if you took a snapshot at any other part of their day, you’d see that they’re going through this too, we all are.
So get off your phone. Don’t judge yourself by what your friends are doing. This quarantine is hard for everyone, and you’re only getting a snapshot of their “perfect life.” Yeah, they’re doing some cool things. You can, too, you’re capable of anything. We all are. But, in the meantime, especially if you’re dealing with depression, because of isolation in quarantine, be gentle on yourself. Baby steps.
Create a new routine, take a shower, make your bed, get your breakfast, clean the apartment house, and just take it moment by moment, in the present. Take a deep breath, inhale, and exhale.