Spending the Confinement Alone: How to Cope

28 May, 2020
Going through confinement alone at home isn't easy. It's important to have adequate strategies to cope with this time in the best possible way, ensuring that your mind becomes your best ally.

Many people are facing the coronavirus confinement alone. The current circumstances have arrived unexpectedly and almost without us realizing it. COVID-19 has frozen our lives and our daily routines.

Going through this period is a lot easier with family or a partner. There are more stimuli, and the close connection, love, and support are very comforting.

However, some people may have to face this period of confinement alone in their homes. This is either because they live alone most of the time or due to work obligations. This is the situation of many elderly people.

But the situation can easily change, and you have to be sensitive to factors such as anxiety, stress, and the burden of isolation. Emotions and your mind can really debilitate you in these contexts.

Yes, you could say that there’s no problem because everyone has an Internet connection. Video calls, continuous messages, and interaction with social networks help. Indeed, technology helps a lot. However, you need to know that it isn’t enough. We need the physical presence of people. We need company and the meaning it brings to our lives. So what can we do in these circumstances?

A window in the mind.

Spending the confinement alone: anchors and purposes

There isn’t a lot of research into how people cope with confinement. However, we do have information on collective continents, such as the one reported in a very recent study by The Lancet of King’s College London. The experts analyzed similar experiences, such as those that took place in several cities in Canada in 2003 as an effect of the outbreak of another type of coronavirus, SARS.

In this case, they saw that, after 10 days, the population experienced feelings of stress, greater fear of infection, frustration, boredom, anguish due to lack of supplies, and the fear of permanently losing their jobs. All this research was based on family units. Therefore, we have no data on the effects solitary confinement may have.

It could have the same consequences as spending several hours in a sensory isolation tank. Not seeing or having contact with anyone seriously affects our brain. Obviously, the effect would be a lot worse if we didn’t have the technology and our cell phones to stay in contact.

Things to anchor you to today’s reality

When a person spends hours, days, and weeks in solitude, they can suffer from a very specific effect: dissociation. It’s a very common brain failure when people suffer from anxiety. It basically consists of starting to feel that what’s happening isn’t actually real.

You no longer feel connected to your body. You look in the mirror and experience apathy and disconnection with the person who’s reflected there. Reality becomes slower and nothing seems to have any meaning anymore.

This phenomenon falls within a spectrum. In other words, some suffer from it in a mild way, while others in an extreme way. What you need to do here is “anchor” your mind so that it doesn’t escape. You need to make sure it doesn’t wander off and simply focuses on the here and now.

Routines are important

In these situations, routines are important. You must try to keep to a schedule in which you carry out a task for a set period of time. In addition to that, you should also allow time for leisure, rest, and physical exercise.

Having something to do will help and encourage you. If you have to face confinement in solitude, then the ideal thing is to have some sort of task that will take up some of your time every day. It may be a good idea to sign up for an online course.

As part of these “anchors” and things that help focus your thoughts, frequent contact with your family and friends is a priority.

During the calls or video calls, you should try to remember happy moments that you’ve shared together, funny anecdotes, and other things that can create positive emotions. This way, your mind will receive large doses of serotonin to help you focus on what’s really important.

A woman using her phone in bed.

Keep in mind your future goals and your hopes for tomorrow

To cope with this confinement alone, your brain will need more than just a routine. It’ll also need something that goes beyond messages of affection and encounters with your loved ones on a screen.

When you end a call, the emptiness often remains. Your mind can suffer, and your emotions can be badly affected.

These are the moments when you’ll have to remember your plans and goals for the future. COVID-19 will pass. The situation will eventually become more manageable.

We’ll all be released from the confinement of our homes and the world will start moving again. Your dreams will continue to wait for you, your goals should give you motivation, hope, and confidence.

You need to open your mind from time to time and look at the horizon, not just the cold glass of your windows. Remember your purposes. Yes, it’s true that life is now on hold, but it won’t be long before it takes us by the hand again to lead us towards those dreams. Everything will return to normal.

  • Brooks, Samantha. Webster, Rebecca. The psychological impact of quarantine and how to reduce it: rapid review of the evidence https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30460-8