Daily Quarantine Checklist
For People With Severe Depression
If your depression presents itself anything like mine does, the self-isolation symptom could happen daily! Memes have been floating around the 'net about quarantine feeling just like any other day.
We laugh, but truly it's not typical for people to isolate themselves. Like a lot of other mammals, humans are social creatures! This is why extended periods of isolation is a symptom of severe depression or anxiety. It feels good while we're doing it, but it could have negative effects on our healing process. We could fall right back into bad habits and stop taking good care of ourselves.
That's why I set out to write this article. I ended up going into quarantine because I caught the flu and needed to stay home like a good citizen. During that time, I fell off my self-care routine. Like a lot of people, being at home every day instead of going to work or school is a totally new experience.
Although I had tons of extra time on my hands, I only exercised twice! (See my previous article about practicing yoga even while you're sick.) When I go to work, with less downtime on my hands, I am able to practice 2-3 times per week. So what's my excuse for slacking off?
The simple lack of routine can cause a healing depressive to "fall off the wagon". Whether it's remembering to take our meds, drinking enough water, eating, or bathing, we need some sort of structure or routine to keep up with our self care regimen.
For example, getting up and going to work everyday is a reminder for me to take my medication. Otherwise, the workday stresses become too much for me. Going to work everyday reminded me to take regular showers (because even bathing can be difficult for the depressive). While at work, I drink tons of water because I talk all day to customers. Also during my work day, I make sure to eat regular meals to keep my energy up throughout the 8-hour shift.
When I get home, I alternate days on which I do my yoga practice. Yoga is also called "moving meditation" because it focuses on first relaxing the mind and being mindful before going into a tough workout. I also go into making dinner and eating because it's second nature for me. See? Routines are a huge part of the recovery process for those with depression, anxiety, and tons of other illnesses.
Enough about me. Here's your quarantine checklist (the one I should have created long ago and followed myself):
No matter when you wake up, try to change your clothes.
One of the first challenges a depressive faces is getting out of bed in the morning. Is it even worth it? For those who are completely out of work right now, there really isn't much incentive to get up from bed at all. Before we know it, hours can pass and we haven't even used the restroom yet!
So here's a reminder to get out of bed and use that bathroom (if you have any toilet paper available to you)! Make sure to change into different (preferably clean) clothes. They don't have to be work clothes or "going out" clothes. This can simply be a new set of pajamas. When you change your clothes, you are less likely to crawl back into bed and let the day pass by without getting much accomplished.
While we're at it, I want to remind you to change back out of your "day pajamas" before you get back into bed for the night. This will create a habit of switching into sleep mode for the night as well as make you feel more productive when spending the entire day at home.
Take Your Medicine!
I'll say it again: take your meds! Stopping your medication without your doctor's approval can have unintended side-effects. After the medicine is completely out of your system, you may start experiencing symptoms you thought were gone. Trying to go back onto these types of medication will also have side-effects like an upset stomach or a severe change in appetite.
Get Proper Nutrients
Another thing that is difficult for the depressive is remembering to eat their three meals per day. Depression and anxiety disorder are examples of mental illnesses that can cause a person to purposely skip meals. This may be in an effort to lose weight, a side effect of their medications, or even something in their mind telling them they don't deserve to eat.
Remember that your medications require food to be in your stomach. Some people already know the pangs that could happen when the pills hit the system without any food to soften the blow. Even if it's a small piece of fruit or a couple of crackers, you will be surprised at the effects it can have on your energy level and mood.
Here's your reminder that you do deserve to eat. Putting nutrients into your body is neither a waste of time nor food. Even if you are out of work and don't know where your next meal will come from, you deserve to have food in your mouth. Go too long without it and we all knows what happens. Let's put faith in the Universe that this whole COVID-19 mess sorts itself out soon.
It's a lot easier than it sounds. If you are cooped up in the house all day, especially if you are out of work, you should make it a habit to get the blood flowing at least once per day.
It's a proven fact that exercise improves the mood. Forget about the other side effects like the potential weight loss, strength, and general health it affords our bodies. Those of us who have depression will find it hard to gather to motivation to do this, but we all know what happens to people who lay in bed all day without moving.
The reason this is particularly important for those who are out of work is because of routine. Again, humans strive on routines and habits. If we are suddenly broken out of a habit, we have a short panic period. For those struggling with anxiety or other mental illnesses, these feels are only magnified. Adding exercising to your new quarantine routine, even if it wasn't there already, will only help to better structure your day.
Comfy Socks Or Slippers
When I spent time in a mental facility, I found that the smallest things could bring me joy. For a lot of us at that time, we found joy in our different types of socks. Some of the people I met have been in and out of hospitals, so they come prepared with their own fuzzy socks to wear around the common areas.
Even after I left, I hung onto my love of fuzzy socks or cozy slippers. They keep our feets warm and protected and look great! See, it only takes a small joy to create a light in your heart that will scare away the shadows. If you allow it, the light can continue to glow for the entire day.
So pick something to focus on and enjoy it as hard as you can! This is just another thing to set your mind to when the quarantine blues come around. This can even be an over sized sweater, a teddy bear, or a soft blanket. Get comfortable, even as you work from home.
Shower At Least Every Other Day
This is yet another task that can seem impossible for the depressive. We could smell like rotten eggs and have flies buzzing around us but we still cannot force ourselves to take a shower. Having to get out of the house for work or school is what forces the depressive to finally get in the shower and clean off the grime.
Especially now, with the cleanliness lessons we are learning from COVID-19, we want to get all the excess dirt and germs off of our skin and out of our homes. Do us all a favor and try to keep up with a bathing routine. Cleaning off every other day should be just enough, even for those who can't leave the house.
If you want to go all the way, try for a bath. You don't have to have bubbles and lit candles like the fire-hazard stock images we see whenever someone mentions the word "relaxation". I do recommend bringing a book or a podcast as something to do while you soak. Anxiety can creep in and cut your time short for no reason. Allow yourself to be taken to a different place far from here by listening to guided meditations or visualizations.
You don't have to be an "artist" to create art. All you need is a sheet of paper and something to write with. Anything else is just for flair. Start by writing a story or journal-ing. If you like to draw, try your cat, your bed, or even your own feet! Doodling is another fun way to pass the time. Zentangles are a great way to learn a new skill and create something fantastic with little to no effort.
Did I Miss Anything?
If anything else comes to mind when you think of creating a daily quarantine routine, please feel free to add it to your list. See? Adding things to check-lists will only remind you of other productive ways to pass the time while cooped up inside.
I hope this helps anyone struggling with a mental illness or someone who feels lost during quarantine. It is important to take care of ourselves even when it feels like the world is ending. Once we all come out of this, we will need to be just as healthy and strong as we were when we came in. Otherwise, you will struggle to get back into some semblance of normalcy.