Self-isolation has become the buzzword of 2020 thanks to the coronavirus that’s disrupted the entire world. But what exactly does it involve? From keeping clean to keeping fit, here’s a look at 20 tips and tricks that should help you keep safe and stay sane during this unprecedented global crisis.
20. Self-isolate if showing symptoms
So who exactly should self-isolate? Well, if your temperature reaches 37.8C or above; if you are finding it more difficult to breathe or indeed if you have a cough that just won’t go away, then the chances are that you could well have the coronavirus. And as a result, you and anyone else who lives with you should stay indoors.
But the length of time you need to self-isolate depends on several factors. If you live on your own, then you should avoid going outside completely for an entire week after the symptoms first start showing. If you live with others, then the whole household needs to stay at home for twice as long.
19. The vulnerable should stay at home
There are certain vulnerable sections of society who should go into quarantine even if they aren’t showing any symptoms. People who have cancer, various genetic disorders or severe breathing problems are at much greater risk from the coronavirus than the rest of the population. Other groups who should also self-isolate immediately are organ transplant patients, those taking immune system-suppressing medication and women who are pregnant.
But what about if you live with or care for a person in the at-risk group? Well, you’ll be pleased to hear that you don’t have to completely self-isolate. You can still venture outside providing that you stay at least two meters away from anyone else, a practice that has become known as social distancing.
18. Stay in well-ventilated room
If any of the coronavirus symptoms start to show then fresh air could be key. Patients or possible patients should retire to a room that is well-ventilated and, if possible, has an easily opened window. The person who may have been infected should also keep their distance from anyone else living in the same house.
We don’t yet know for sure, but the coronavirus may be unable to spread through the air. However, in case it can, the risk of transmission lowers significantly when good air circulation is available. A study published on website Nature.com in 2019 stated that a building with even just low outdoor air ventilation levels can help to notably minimize the spread of influenza.
17. Use delivery services where appropriate
So what should those who find themselves having to shut out the entire outside world do about food? Well, if you haven’t already been raiding the supermarkets in preparation, then there’s still help at hand. The majority of supermarket and takeaway delivery services are still remaining active throughout the pandemic.
However, if you’re not showing any symptoms and aren’t classed as a vulnerable person, then you should try and give these services a wide berth. Instead, use the click-and-collect option where possible. This allows drivers to deliver food to those individuals who have been affected the most by the outbreak.
16. Keep your distance from delivery drivers
If you do order a delivery, then make sure you still keep a safe distance when the driver arrives. Many apps, including DoorDash, are ensuring that their employees leave parcels on the doorsteps rather than hand them over in person. This reduces the risk of being infected with the virus through contact.
Customers are also being advised to tip well if they use a delivery service. Helen Rosner, formerly the executive editor of dining website Eater, said, “You’re paying for the privilege of not leaving your home, not directly compensating the delivery person for the minimum wage equivalent of his or her labor. The absolute minimum value you should place on that is $5, which you should tip.”
15. Don’t stockpile
Considering all the images of supermarket shelves that look like they’ve been ransacked, this tip may come too late for many. But if you do have to physically head to the nearest store to buy essential groceries, then try to avoid panic buying. Unnecessary stockpiling is the reason why so many of us have struggled to get items such as toilet roll and paracetamol.
It’s perhaps only natural that shoppers would panic in a time of crisis. But supermarket bosses have been quick to point out that the supply chain is still very much in working order. And therefore the public should shop sensibly whenever a store is restocked and ensure that there’s enough items to go around for everyone.
14. Sleep alone
In the midst of a global pandemic you may feel like you need a reassuring cuddle. But if you or your partner are showing symptoms or are deemed to be vulnerable to the virus, then unfortunately this is a no-no. In fact, couples in these categories are advised to sleep in entirely separate rooms.
Of course, this might not be a viable option for some. Those who live in a one-bedroom property, for example, or those couples who share their home with their children or with others will struggle to self-isolate to this degree. Ideally those at risk should also use a different bathroom to the rest of their household, although again this will be impossible for some.
13. Stay clean
Cleanliness is next to godliness when it comes to the coronavirus. One of the first things we were instructed to do when news of the outbreak emerged was regularly wash our hands thoroughly for 20 seconds. And if you don’t have a stopwatch close by then you can time yourself by simply singing “Happy Birthday” to yourself – twice over.
Of course, it’s not just your hands that need to remain as clean as possible. Your house, and specifically your bathroom, should be wiped down every time it’s been used if you’re considered vulnerable or showing symptoms. And those at risk and living with others should also have their very own towels to dry down.
12. Don’t use health services unless absolutely necessary
It may be instinctive to seek advice or assistance from health services if you’re feeling the effects of the virus. But only those in desperate need of help should do so at a time when the medical profession is being stretched to its limits. Those who find themselves infected but don’t become seriously ill are advised to stay at home and ride it out.
In fact, the health center is the last place you want to find yourself at in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, according to Professor Carl Heneghan. The practicing GP told The Guardian newspaper, “Be aware that any health center, any hospital, is a potential source of infection. It’s incredibly difficult for it to be a clean place. If you feel okay, you need to look after yourself at home.”
11. Dispose of waste properly
Only just got to grips with the various number of recycling bins? Well, the coronavirus has now introduced yet another way of disposing of household waste. Indeed, those affected by the outbreak are being asked to get rid of items such as used cleaning cloths and tissues separately from the rest of their garbage.
To help reduce the risk of spreading the virus further, such waste should be placed into disposable refuse bags. This bag then needs to be placed into another securely-tied one and put aside for at least three whole days. Only then can this garbage then be put in the normal bin for household waste.
10. Breathe easy
It’s a human function we take entirely for granted, but breathing could be the key to how we cope with all the upheaval caused by the virus. Dr. Stephanie Cacioppo, a social neuroscientist, told Vogue magazine, “Breathing is really important. Breathing in and out in three-second blocks gives us a sense of now.”
And Dr. Cacioppo has some other simple tips when it comes to dealing with the stress and anxiety of it all. If you’re feeling overwhelmed about what the future may bring, the doctor has advised you to loudly enunciate your name letter by letter as a coping mechanism. She said, “It sounds very silly, but try to do it. You’ll stop your mind from wandering to negative thoughts of the future.”
9. Avoid the internet
The temptation to thoroughly research every coronavirus article out there may be overwhelming if you find yourself coughing all of a sudden. But those who feel they may be coming down with the illness are advised not to spend too much time on internet research. For this will only heighten anxiety, whether you have the illness or not.
Speaking to Vogue, Dr. Cacioppo argued that allowing your brain to race through each and every type of possibility was only natural. But sometimes the way you cope with such a process can be detrimental to your mental health. This is valuable advice at a time when even the most rational among us are capable of turning into paranoid hypochondriacs.
8. Give kids structure
Those who are parents face added pressures during self-isolation or government-enforced lockdown. Indeed, it’s certainly not easy keeping kids of any age entertained within the same four walls all day for weeks on end. But there are still certain things you can do to give youngsters a sense of structure.
Work alongside your kids to create a timetable that splits the day into manageable chunks. You’ll want to include some form of educational activity with them no longer being in school. But don’t forget to make time for more enjoyable activities such as dancing or arts and crafts. You can also help them to escape all the unsettlement by giving them more screen time than normal.
7. Develop a hobby
Of course, a lengthy stint at home may give some of us a chance to do the things we always wanted to do, but for which we have never previously made time. Many in self-isolation have decided that now is the perfect opportunity to explore a new passion or pick up a hobby. And there are plenty of activities that you can participate in without needing to step outside the house.
Perhaps you could use your spare time to hone your baking or cooking skills? Alternatively, maybe you’d like to knit your entire family a sweater each? Or conceivably you want to learn a new language, which you can then put to good use once the travel ban has lifted. Having something to aim for and enjoy can be crucial to your mental well-being during a crisis.
6. Clear your wardrobe
If you didn’t immediately declutter your entire house after watching Marie Kondo’s hit Netflix show, then perhaps now is the time. One approach might be to tackle just one different room every few days to spread out a task which may otherwise appear insurmountable. And if your home is already spotless, then maybe you could switch your attention to your wardrobe?
Indeed, quarantine is the ideal time to sift through all those clothes that you haven’t worn in years and throw away everything that doesn’t spark joy. You might even find a lost gem that you’d completely forgotten you had. And by removing any fashion deadwood you’ll also make things a lot easier when it comes to getting ready for that first big post-coronavirus night out.
5. Do some D.I.Y.
Don’t need to tidy or declutter? Then why not use the time at home to do those jobs around the house you’ve been putting off for months or even years? Maybe you could brighten up your lounge or bedroom with a fresh lick of paint. Or perhaps you could give that old piece of furniture a new lease of life with a bit of upholstering?
And if you’re lucky enough to have a yard or garden, then why not spend as much time as you can in the sun? Self-isolation is the perfect time to put your green fingers to use and plant your favorite flowers. You’ll soon have a much more colorful view every time you look out of your window.
4. Keep fit
You might not be able to hit that Body Pump class at the gym any more. And the days of sharing a tennis court, morning run or swimming pool are also a thing of the recent past. But if your energy levels haven’t been affected by the outbreak then there are still plenty of ways you can stay fit in the comfort of your own home.
Some people in self-isolation may be lucky enough to have an arsenal of exercise equipment at their disposal. Others can look towards YouTube and the multitude of workout routines that cater for everyone from absolute beginners to hardcore gymgoers. And if you want something a little more calming, then why not try 30 minutes of yoga each day?
3. Stay in touch
It can be all too easy to slip into a state of loneliness if you’re self-isolating without others. However, in this very modern age there are still many ways to connect with your nearest and dearest. Indeed, use apps such as Skype and Facetime to converse with those friends and family members that you miss the most.
And if you’re not feeling particularly camera-ready, then why not just have a chat via the more traditional phone call? Social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook can also be a great way of staying connected during a time like this. Or maybe you want to rediscover the lost art of letter writing?
2. Spend time with your pets
It’s a well-known fact that having pets increases the levels of dopamine and serotonin found in the brain. And blood-pressure levels can be lowered with the simple patting of a dog or cat. So if you’re lucky enough to have a furry friend, or a bird, reptile or any other kind of creature, in the house, then you may want to spend as much time as you can in their company.
And owning a dog, in particular, can also offer another major advantage. It encourages those who are allowed to get out of the house for some much-needed fresh air. And even those in areas that are in heavy lockdown, such as Italy, are allowing citizens with dogs to venture outside for a walk.
1. Lose yourself in another world
For the sake of your emotional well-being, you should also put some time aside to completely lose yourself in a world where the coronavirus doesn’t even exist. Perhaps tackle one of the many unread novels that have been sitting on your bookshelf for many years. Or immerse yourself in your favorite video game. And there’s no shame in becoming a total couch potato either during these uncertain times.
In this streaming age, you’re certainly not short of options. And you don’t have to spend a cent to enjoy many of the films and TV shows on offer. Both powerhouses such as Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime and smaller names like Shudder, Acorn and Filmatique offer free trials for 30 days.