As Europe institutes protective quarantines in most states, life is changing for the majority of people. Our next few weeks and months may involve much more time inside and more time either alone or with our families than we are used to, and some adjustments will have to be made. Despite some alarmist news and genuine reasons for concern about Covid-19, this will be a temporary set of circumstances and the most important thing is to remain as functional and normal as possible whilst self-isolating or under quarantine.
The first, and biggest, part of making life comfortable for the next little while is psychological. You need to look at staying at home as an active thing. Sure, you could ignore rules and advice and run out of the house but as a rational person, you’re making the positive choice to reduce transmission and protect yourself.
Now that you’ve accepted that part of reality, you can apply some creativity to the situation. Have you always wondered how you would cope on a mission to Mars? The odds are that even in a studio apartment, you are experiencing conditions similar to every person who has ever boldly gone where no man has gone before. We can look to NASA for some helpful insights on how to cope in these circumstances.
Three things that NASA observed made a major difference during isolation and confinement were lighting, movement, and sleep. To maintain the ideal mood and well being during quarantine time, you will want to try and ensure you keep these variables as close to normal as possible.
No matter where you live, try to get as much natural light as possible. Open your curtains, stand at your window and look at the birds and trees or wave at your neighbours. If you can, open your windows and get a fresh breeze and hear the sounds of the world around you. If you have a garden or a balcony, get out there and soak up the sun as much as possible.
In a confined space, it might be hard to see immediately how you can keep up your movement. If you have a treadmill or an exercise bike that you’ve been allowing to gather dust, then great news, this is the moment to bring it out of retirement. Try to do a brief workout every day. If you don’t have any exercise equipment in the house, there are still plenty of options, get onto the internet and find one of the hundreds of workouts either on video or just lists of reps to do for different strength exercises. If all else fails, jog on the spot for 10 minutes, do 100 press-ups, 100 star jumps and 100 sit-ups. It will keep you physically in shape and give you a mental boost.
For sleep, a strict schedule is likely to be best. You don’t want the days to begin blending into each other. Set yourself a time for lights off and a time to get out of bed. This is no time to be staying up all night and sleeping all day. You have the chance to do what your parents may have done for you as a child, put yourself into a routine.
For the time being, get dressed, shower, work and sleep. This is a pause but you can and will cope.