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Four tips to deal with quarantine and isolation during the coronavirus outbreak

Woman isolated during pandemic

Covid-19 is spreading fast and is keeping in check the entire world. Its effects now cause worry not only for its consequences on people’s physical health or the global economy but also for the mental health of those who have to stay isolated for a long time.

The long duration of the quarantine, the worries about being infected, the lack of information or excessive information, the financial insecurity and the isolation from our dear ones are all sources of anxiety and preoccupation.

So, what can we do to deal with the anxiety and stress stemming from isolation?

Stay outdoors

Whenever possible, go outside and expose yourself to the sunlight. Balconies, windows, gardens. A walk within nature when possible. Research shows that spending time surrounded by nature has positive effects on health by reducing the level of cortisol (the stress hormone), diastolic blood pressure, Type II diabetes and a significant number of diseases, including cancer. Physical activity, especially in the open air, has also proved to be highly effective to combat anxiety and depression, as it stimulates the production of endorphins, (the so-called Happiness hormones), that facilitate a sense of harmony and feeling-good.

Spend time on creative activities

Another recommendation regards keeping ourselves active, avoiding spending hours sitting on the couch and watching the latest TV series on Netflix.

It is better to use this unexpected spare time keeping busy with creative activities. It can be an opportunity to brush up an old hobby that we had to put on the shelf because of a high demanding job or daily routine, or discover a new one that can keep us inspired and engaged.

Painting, drawing, learning how to play a musical instrument: Youtube offers plenty of videos to start learning new activities. Also, online platforms such as Coursera or FutureLearn offer courses and ideas to use our time creatively, making it an instrument for personal growth.

Mindfulness. A highly effective method to keep anxiety at bay is Mindfulness, which comprises a series of techniques, focused on keeping one’s attention on the present moment, the here and now.

A lot of different activities can contribute to making your day more mindful.

From sitting meditation to mindful walking - that consists of observing the world around us, bringing our attention to the visual, auditory, and olfactory stimuli we perceive during our walk instead than on our thoughts - practicing mindfulness can be extremely beneficial to our health. It is a powerful tool to control our emotions and reduce anxiety and stress levels.

There are many apps available that provide exercises and meditations for every moment of the day: from the morning meditation, to facing the day with clarity and focus, to the techniques to relax when it's time to go to bed. Among the most popular are Simple Habit, Headspace, Calm. If you speak Italian, you can try the app Clarity.

The importance of human connections

Even if we have to self-isolate from the rest of the world, we still can and have to keep alive social relations.

As shown by a ground-breaking study carried out by Harvard University – that, starting from 1938, tracked the quality of life and health of 268 students for 75 years, involving multiple generations of researchers – having positive relationships with other people is the key to a longer and happier life. Although staying at home forces us to keep apart from our friends and loved ones, old (traditional phone calls) and new (emails, online calls) technologies can help us connect to the people we love. That can be a way to go beyond the superficial friendships on social networks and re-discover the power of authentic relations.

(This is an English translation of my article published on www.Londra, on 19 March 2020

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