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Quarantine Quandaries: How to Beat the Hum Drum of Isolation

In recent months we have been introduced to COVID-19, a virus, which has thousands of people across the globe, exposed with symptoms and many others fearing exposure and risk. There are widespread recommendations for social distancing, with thousands in quarantine and considerably more being advised to work from home. For many industries this reflects a drastic change of pace, with students remotely learning, and full business having difficulty functioning at their usual capacity. This reflects a challenge in how we can stay sane, now finding ourselves in increased isolation, in a less sane world.

Many people find it hard to be productive at home. We often take cues from other people working and that helps our own productivity. Without those usual cues you may want to initiate your own accountability. Here are a few tips that may help:

Plan your time.

If you are in quarantine for a set period of time, get your calendar out. Mark off the 14 days (or recommended period of time).  Strategize your list of what meetings you will have each day, set times to have conference or video chat calls with friends and family. Planning out each day will break up the time helping it to feel more manageable. 

Find Novelty:

To help break up the boredom from home, try to get creative with what is available to you. This may include finding new ways of baking, cooking, home improvement projects or reaching out with friends and family who you may have difficulty keeping in contact with. 

Don’t get lost in binge watching.

While it’s always fun to catch up on shows you may have missed, try to keep track of your time. When you reach that, “Are you still watching?” prompt from Netflix, it may be advisable to take a break, walk around and shift gears.

Our bodies give us cues on how we feel. Behavioral activation strategies show us that when our body gets moving, it can help our brain stay more engaged. When we lie down in bed for a long time and become listless and lethargic, the mind often follows suit. 

Mentally — Try to Keep Perspective

The mass hysteria can make it seem as though the world is ending. It can be discouraging to see empty shelves in stores and public areas that are now vacant. However, there is also a lot of growth and healing that has encouraged people to find novel ways to stay together. 

In Italy on a rooftop, a poet read aloud as everyone around was on his or her own rooftop, listening. A rabbi who was in quarantine in Skokie, Illinois, was reading aloud a prayer service (story of Purim, the Jewish Halloween) from the community members who read to him through his window, the congregation gathering outside. Many people are finding a beautiful way to stay connected, while apart.

A moms group in my community in Astoria, Queens has started an excel sheet of when different moms and caretakers may be available to watch one another’s children with the potential of schools closing. 

Use this time as an opportunity. A positive mindset will help you get through the current moment and find more optimism and productivity in your work. 

Meet your physical needs:

Try to exercise a bit each day, look up stretching work routines, in home yoga and Pilates apps can also work. Even a few jumping jacks, push ups or sit ups will help you wiggle out of the resting mind that can take over when we are in the same familiar environment. 

We can be tempted to stay in bed but the more active we are, the better we’ll be able to deal with daily challenges. 

Keep a Routine

It can be challenging to work from home, so keep on top of your day. Write out a schedule of breaking up your time into meetings, breaks, times for meals, so that you can effectively manage your time without the usual prompts from the office environment and coworkers. A man in Wuhan in extended isolation stated that “everyday blends together” finding ways to break up each day will help to feel rooted. 

Stock Up Accordingly

While many are scrambling and likely over preparing. Find your own balance of having what you need at home without feeling panicked. Find recommendations on shopping lists others can procure for you if you are in quarantine.

Practice self care: 

Try to turn your home into a spa. Taking baths, lotions, candles can transform your space and your mood. Finding coping skills that will work for you. Listening to music, journaling, playing an instrument, finding comedies you enjoy may all help provide a much needed outlet for stress. 

Remind yourself this is temporary: 

Think ahead- plan out what you’re looking forward to. We will hopefully be on the other side of this. The weather will be warmer. We remind ourselves there is a flu “season” — that it isn’t year round. Try to think and plan for trips that you’re looking forward to and allow your mind the possibility of dreaming. 

Be aware of what enters your mind.

When we inundate ourselves with news articles and watching the news constantly it is easier for us to engage in the hysteria. Take breaks away or remind yourself to read articles like this, that help take away your stress rather than fuel it. 

Quarantine Quandaries: How to Beat the Hum Drum of Isolation

Jessica Koblenz, PsyD

Jessica Koblenz, PsyD, is a Licensed Psychologist in the State of New York. She specializes in Trauma, PTSD, and working with military service members and high level executives. She is in Private Practice in Astoria, Queens and works on the Faculty at Harlem Hospital. She is a peer-reviewer of multiple Journals including the Mortality Review and the Omega Journal of Death and Dying. Her research focuses on trauma in military service members. Her work has been featured in Reader’s Digest, Instyle, Women’s Health and other outlets. For more information see:

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APA Reference
Koblenz, J. (2020). Quarantine Quandaries: How to Beat the Hum Drum of Isolation. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 26, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 14 Mar 2020 (Originally: 15 Mar 2020)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 14 Mar 2020
Published on Psych All rights reserved.