As countries around the world are implementing quarantine and self-isolation measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, millions of people have been asked to stay home. Whether you’re working from home or have been laid off, spending extended periods of time at home can be difficult. Dr. Jan McBarron is an award winning Bariatric Medical Doctor who understands the importance of remaining vigilant even in isolation and is here to share some of her best tips for maintaining your physical and mental health during social isolation.

Maintain a Routine

For most people, being at home signifies a time for rest, relaxation, and leisure. Your home is likely where you sleep and unwind, but amid COVID-19, millions of people will be spending most of their spare time at home, which can have adverse effects on mental health and physical well-being. As the days melt into one another, it can be difficult to maintain a semblance of a normal routine without a focused plan.

One of the first suggestions that Jan McBarron offers to combat some of these challenges is to maintain a regular routine. If you are working from home, try waking up at the same time, drinking your coffee in the same place, and preparing for the day in the way you usually would. The natural inclination may be to spend the next two weeks in your pajamas, but definitive routines can help break up your day and allow you to maintain some sense of normalcy. Having a daily or weekly goal can also help keep you focused and motivated, even if it is a small project, puzzle, game, or craft.

Even if you are at home and not working, Jan McBarron suggests creating separate spaces for various activities if possible. Kitchens are for cooking. Dining rooms are for eating. Bedrooms are for sleeping. Offices are for working. Living rooms are for relaxing. The better you can define those rooms and their associative purposes, the more productive they become. 

Establish Boundaries

If you are at home with a roommate, partner, or family, it is useful to create a set of ground rules with the other people in your space. For many, living at home full-time with loved ones is new territory, so you might consider allocating time to focus on work, making plans to spend time together in the evenings, or defining rules around the use of common space. We all need our alone time, and creating rules around how space is used can help reduce tension during this time.

Remain Active

One of the most difficult aspects of self-isolation is the lack of physical movement. When you are at home for an extended period, Jan McBarron suggests taking frequent breaks to walk up and down the stairs, around your apartment, or to stretch. If you are able to go outside while maintaining the 6” safety tip, you should. Not only can movement have a positive impact on your physical health, it can also help regulate your mental health.

Maintain Open Communication

Lastly, Jan McBarron suggests maintaining open communication with friends and loved ones outside of your home. From phone calls, to Facetime, and text messages, it has never been more important to stay in touch. While we may not be able to see one another face-to-face, communication can support our emotional wellbeing as we brace ourselves for an uncertain future.

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