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How can we stay mentally healthy in quarantine?
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Making time to unwind is an important step in self-care

Finding homeschooling your offspring unsettling? Regretting never learning your own times tables, while telling the kids they can't get through life without them? Days inside can be especially tiring; carve out an hour for yourself to take a break from the noise.

The Argument

According to the American Psychological Association, society assigns a certain value to “powering through” a tough moment and skipping a break. A 2017 study proved that breaks are actually productive. Some participants were given a five minute break in the middle of a task while others were not. Those who were given the chance to pause and engage in another activity, remained far more focused on their work than the control group. It is important that the break you are taking involves a different kind of mental engagement from your job – according to an earlier study in 2012, those with desk jobs experienced less “job burnout” and “depression” if the breaks they took were physical and involved the outdoors, giving their analytical skills a rest and exercising different parts of the brain.[1] Our technological developments have allowed us to receive information instantaneously; this means that now the news is often a live experience rather than collected information. While this is incredibly draining, our speedy sources have made it even clearer that ignoring the news is out of the question in order to remain safe and engaged. However, Kate Lynch Bieger, PhD of the Seleni Institute, highly recommends scheduling our engagement with the news. According to Bieger, if you already suffer from anxiety or if the current events bring up trauma, too much absorption with the news can be damaging. She suggests determining when during the day you would like to receive information, when you would like to discuss it, and when you absolutely do not want to spend time processing it.[2] This kind of schedule provides security within oneself and an opportunity to prepare for information. Centre Daily recommends confirming that one’s media sources are credible so that time absorbing news is well spent.[3] Centre Daily published an article specifically on managing mental health in quarantine and confirms that scheduling significant time to unwind is necessary and also a very personal experience. Finding a way to stay communally connected while centered in one’s own body is important when most of our lives are now dedicated to immense screen time. Although the phrase might seem overly simplistic, find personal joy. When stressed, make the effort to stay physiologically balanced by seeking content and activities that relieve anxiety; read a book outside, walk with a companion, develop a personal project. Lastly, Centre Daily recommends seeking help if the stressful effects of quarantine surpass what feels manageable. One can simply not care for others without maintaining their own health.[3]

Counter arguments

We’re living in a different world and shame is unproductive. According to the Washington Post, the American Academy of Pediatrics advised against more than one hour of screen use for children under 5 years of age in 2016. Four years later, however, the globe exists in entirely different parameters and is facing widespread quarantine. Now, Nusheen Ameenuddin warns against guilting ourselves for adapting to this current reality with screens.[4] Common Sense Media claims that the problem was never with how many hours we spent online anyway – it was more about how we were using our brains, especially for children. Since the world dwells within their respective homes now, and we by nature are social and narrative beings, we must learn how to do everything we enjoy in a different way – through technological advancement. This has become our screens. Common Sense Media explains that there is a significant difference between four hours of tv time and four hours of screen time with tv, video chatting, and creative activities. They encourage creative engagement with online media – how can our screens actually help us the build the connections we are barred from at the moment? Essentially, screen time can offer both an escape for our brains and an opportunity for social connection – whether we watch endless movies with family or spend hours video chatting with loved ones. If we take a break from social media and consciously choose to disengage with a new mode of living, we risk disconnecting with our community bases. Adapting to rather than resisting the new reality takes time, but leads to creative problem-solving and a fulfilling life.[5] The Canadian Mental Health Association advises against ignoring troubling news. Especially during a pandemic, accurate and consistently updated information is like armor – not only is the public prepared to take the proper precautions, but they also understand their own role in the crisis. Turning away from the news can lead to more stress due to misinformation. CMHC recommends finding trusted media sources and using social media only for connection and not for finding irrefutable information.[6]



Rejecting the premises


This page was last edited on Friday, 26 Jun 2020 at 01:01 UTC

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