Lockdown Anxiety, because of pandemic COVID-19, is upon us. In fact, all across Italy, the cry is Iorestoacasa! — “I stay at home”; in the U.S. the term is a more pale “shelter in place.” This severe yet compassionate form of social distancing can certainly enhance one’s health safety net, but it is also likely to subject tens of millions of people, after a while, to what is often described as “cabin fever” — a growing anxiety about being isolated.
COVID-19 is disabling ways of everyday social life that may increase our anxiety about a shelter in place lifestyle. Many people are faced with increased boredom and anxiety about being in solitude, having more free time at hand, or being isolated with or from others.
In this article I want to encourage and inspire you to discover a whole world of endless opportunities that exist within increased free time, leisure, and even boredom — opportunities to enhance one’s life and mental-physical well-being in spite of feeling “locked down.”
Shelter in Place: Lockdown Anxiety
The limitation of social life has specific consequences that elevate a type of anxiety, worry, or increased inner tension within oneself, a relationship, and even family. Consider the following possible effects of societal lockdown on an individual or household:
- Children at home because of school closures
- Elimination of childcare services
- Adults working at home
- Meals prepared and consumed at home
- Increased noise and activity at home
- Community activities eliminated
- Prohibition of outdoor activities
- Closure of cafes, bars, restaurants and all social types of businesses
- Laws against being in public without a permit
This is a tremendous burden to suddenly place on people, and especially families. Our social activities often act as safe “third places” between work/school and home. But in lockdown, suddenly we are faced with a potpourri of potential issues that need some forethought. Issues around eating, communication, having space, doing nothing, TV and video games, exercise, chores, efficient work space, quiet, doing homework, spiritual practice, seeing and talking to the same person for hours on end, and so on.
10 Tips to Overcome Lockdown Anxiety
Before sharing ways to push back the four walls, first consider that your isolation can be like a form of sanctuary: a safe haven within the world. Every person wants to know that their home is an asylum of safety, peace and comfort. This feeling of sanctuary or shelter is worthy of defending and preserving. So, consider your lockdown as perhaps an opportunity to reconnect with the inviolable sacredness and shelter of your abode. Here you will insure that all is well, for you see your home as a sanctuary.
The following 10 Tips are meant to give you an assortment of activities and experiences that diversify your lockdown experience. Their intent is to increase your sense of wellness, not give you permission to vegetate your free time away (and feel guilty about it!).
- Get in touch with alone time
Many people dread being alone. Often the antidote today is to park it and endlessly scroll the Internet. However, at a deeper level we can invest in some inner reflective activities that please our spirit: meditation, sitting in reflection, journaling, taking a stroll, sketching, praying, reading, listening to inspiring music, yoga, sitting and gazing out a favorite window, and the like.
- Go outside
If you are able to go outdoors without violating policy or recommended guidelines, then do so! Take a walk, run, or stroll. Exercise your pet. Admire nature. Plant a garden. Learn how to garden! Create a special Sanctuary Garden. Breathe deeply and naturally the fresh air outside your window or door. Open that window wide and let the light and air in, and the wonderful sounds of nature soothe your soul.
Shelter in place doesn’t mean “no exercise.” In fact, because of an increased tendency for sedentary activities when at home, it’s vital to create a dedicated exercise routine and stick with it! This may be a great opportunity to develop new knowledge and exercise routines with guidance from fitness experts and videos on the Internet. (HERE is a great resource for free exercise videos). You may also find joy in exercising with other home members.
Let’s face it, we all have some elements of clutter or messiness that we have procrastinated dealing with. So, develop a step-by-step plan to organize and de-clutter. (HERE is a 30-day Declutter Challenge guide). Best strategy to prevent burnout is to break organizing down into small daily tasks that take minimal time: today the bottom drawer, tomorrow the next one up, and so on.
Isolation is an opportunity to study something of interest in depth. It can be anything, and it can also inspire you to further activity, as in learning how to garden, or play a musical instrument, or increasing present skills and knowledge of a subject. You may even decide to study about plant-based remedies, and how to make them at home.
- Learn or rediscover a hobby or craft
Some of the items quickly to disappear from store shelves have been toys, games, crafts and hobby supplies. It seems obvious with enforced isolation to have games and cards around. However, also consider for yourself that special hobby or interest you would finally like to pick up. Even if it’s just learning magic, there is a wealth of teachers on the Internet who will raise your fun factor.
- Increase your culinary skills
These shelter in place policies means no fast food, corner deli run, or lounging at happy hour. There needs to be some serious planning for food when all family members or roommates are home. Because almost 60% of meals are consumed outside the home, this places a lot of responsibility on the household. These duties include meal preferences, preparing, cooking, cleanup, and shopping. During all this, you might find a renewed interest in cooking from scratch, like making a smoothie, and enjoy the nutritional benefits as well.
- Be neighborly
Isolation and shelter in place does not preclude social engagement that is caring, kind, and considerate. In fact, the challenge during social distancing is to stay connected. This means to be concerned, helpful, and to check-in on others (especially the elderly). Be neighborly, be your brother and sister’s keeper.
- Elevate gratitude and increase kindness
When we start feeling down and mopey, the antidote is gratitude and appreciation. This is absolutely the best time to feel and show appreciation — to anybody, to anything! Don’t dwell on the negative. Use such feelings instead as a springboard to show kindness, to be kind, to think kindness. Express your gratitude and appreciation to others; it is a precious gift of honoring.
- Do something inspiring and uplifting
Sometimes in our life we need to be uplifted — an extra dose of happiness (HERE are some good happiness tips). However, the greater virtue is to elevate our own spirit, and include in that a way of helping or inspiring another. Our inspiring activity may be the start of a new painting, or writing some poetry, or designing a sitting spot in our garden, learning to meditate, creating an altar, or even trying a new recipe from scratch. Additionally, checking-in on someone and offering positive support can be incredibly uplifting and inspire more acts of kindness.
What Not to Do in Lockdown!
I have encouraged you to think positive in your increased solitude from the world. Yes, it will be a challenge to offer up a daily diverse menu of activities and behaviors within limited space and law. This is why you should definitely be vigilant about those things that may vie for your creative attention:
- Excess worry or expectations
- Binge, random or overeating or shopping
- Increased use of alcohol, recreational drugs, etc.
- Screen time: chronic TV, video gaming, Internet and Social Media engagement
- News addiction
- Increased passive activity, couch-potato, laziness
- Stress-related outbursts that may be emotional and/or physical
- Succumbing to depression, helplessness, hopelessness or negativity
- Blaming anyone, anything, nature, God, karma, and the like
See your abode as a sanctuary within the world, where you feel a sense of peace, safety & comfort.
A Simple 4-Step Guide to Enjoying Lockdown
When living in isolation with others, there needs to be some forethought given to behaviors, interests and actions of each person. Outlined below are four key steps to creating strategies for harmony.
Step 1: Gather family or group members to discuss the following needs
- Clarity of duties, chores and obligations to maintain a livable space
- Clarity of behavioral limits and boundaries
- Clarity of preferred uses of time and space
- Clarity of meals, eating, and related activity patterns
- Clarity of consequences of certain behaviors
- Clarity of resolution strategies
- Clarity of financial picture and resources
- Clarity of spiritual practices, quiet time and space, noise levels, etc.
Step 2: Identify your own interests
- Write down your interests, both current and desired, that can support your increased free time
- Identify interests that may need the purchase of supplies, etc.
- Prioritize and rank your interests
- Identify the timeframe in which to engage in your activities — time of day, length of engagement, etc.
Step 3: Identify behavioral cautions unique to you
- Write down things to be aware of and cautious about in terms of your unique response to isolation and limited social engagement.
- Especially identify negative types of behavior that can get in the way, such as depression, anxiety, worry, and the like
- Identify positive strategies that can help you overcome some negative tendencies
Step 4: Create a pattern to your day and interests
- For many people, employment and school create a routine to the day. In isolation, new interest patterns need to be identified and honored.
- Identify a pattern of engagement with your activities that feels balanced and can be followed. Much like work, this pattern creates a flow to the day.
- Make certain that others know your interests and patterns, and that all members feel comfortable with creating theirs and sharing with others.
The world has suddenly found itself in self-imposed isolation, be it voluntarily preventive or stated by law. For tens of millions of people, including families, this is a unique first-time experience. It will definitely test one’s mindset, especially as time wears on. This is why it is important to mentally prepare for increased isolation within one’s home sanctuary. It is also vital to be positive and to constantly check-in on one’s state of mind and spirit. Perhaps these ten tips will help minimize Lockdown Anxiety for you.
While we can’t give health advice of any kind, we sure do know a lot about herbs and are happy to speak with you at any time about their properties and proper usage.