COVID-19 is one of the most stressful worldwide events in history and has dramatically impacted our behavioral and mental health.
Also, it has introduced humanity with terms and concepts that have rarely been used or speak about, at least daily: social distancing, quarantine, and isolation.
What is social distancing?
Social distancing also called physical distancing,” is one way to keep people from interacting with each other and counter the spread of this infectious disease.
Public spaces like malls, schools, religious gatherings, sports events, commerce, restaurants, and others, have mostly been shut down.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States recommends the following:
Stay at least 6 feet (about two arms’ length) from other people.
Do not gather in groups.
Stay out of crowded places and avoid mass gatherings.
What is quarantine?
According to the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (HSS), a “quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick. These people may have been exposed to a disease and do not know it, or they may have the disease but do not show symptoms.”
It lasts long enough to ensure the person has not contracted an infectious disease like COVID-19.
What is isolation?
The HHS states that isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not ill. Fair enough.
The CDC suggests that “people who are in isolation should stay home, and anyone sick should separate themselves from others by staying in a specific “sick” bedroom or space and using a different bathroom (if possible).
Typical reactions under high stress
Managing your behavioral and mental health is crucial to surpass the pandemic for your own and family’s overall well-being.
Below is a list of typical reactions of been quarantined or isolated because of COVID-19.
It is prevalent to feel anxiety, stress, worry, or fear concerning:
- Your health status and others you love
- The health status of those who you have been in contact with before social distancing yourself
- Income loss and financial stress because of job security
- The resentment because a friend or a family member has to go under quarantine because they got in touch with you.
- Social loneliness
- Hopelessness and depression
- Mood or an eating disorder.
- Recurrent nightmares
- An unhealthy desire to cope with the situation with alcohol or drugs
- Anger if other people’s mismanagement has exposed you
- The potential stress of closely monitoring yourself like never before, or being monitored by others.
- Securing food or personal care items
- Uncertainty of how long the COVID-19 crisis will last
Check with a professional counselor if you are experiencing any of these for more than four weeks.
Healthy mind, healthy body
Here are six useful tips to stay healthy during social distancing, quarantine, or isolation.
Accurately understand the risks.
In an era where misinformation is abundant, you need to understand risks based on factual data properly.
You may feel or under the impression that you are in immediate danger even when the risk of infection during the infectious outbreak is low.
The essential first step is to limit your media exposure, including social media outlets.
Always watching news reports tends to increase anxiety, especially in children, because they don’t have the understanding or experience of adults.
The smartest route is to look for reliable and credible sources of information about the COVID-19.
Lookup for yourself
If you are in quarantine, which doesn’t involve being at a hospital or other health facility, it is crucial that you have your basic needs covered, and that you feel safe and comfortable, at the very least.
Stay in touch with local or state authorities so you can get essential groceries and personal hygiene resources delivered.
Also, talk to your health provider or health authorities if you need to continue taking a specific medication, if applicable.
Reach out to your family for aid during this process, so you can feel supported and loved.
Another practical way to lookup for yourself is just to relax: take deep breaths, stretch, meditate or pray, or engage in activities you enjoy like reading, playing a musical instrument, cooking, or watching a documentary.
Be mindful about keeping a positive outcome and a sense of hope after COVID-19; consider keeping a journal where you write down every day 27 things you are grateful
Get all the facts
COVID-19 is a serious business, as well as the information you consume about the disease.
It is best to talk to your health care provider or the health authorities, as it is their responsibility to contribute with factual information about the virus, its diagnosis, and treatment.
Feel free to ask questions or seek mental health guidance to reduce any stress or anxiety associated with social distancing, quarantine, or isolation.
If available, ask for written information.
To get the latest information, visit:
A portal for public information that is curated by the COVID-19 Task Force at the White House, working in conjunction with CDC, HHS, and other agency stakeholders.
The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) landing page on CDC.gov is the latest public health and safety information from CDC and for the overarching medical and health provider community on COVID-19.
The site contains consumer and medical information on how the virus spreads, symptoms, prevention and treatment, stigma, cases, and what to do if you are sick, along with frequently asked questions.
The above link takes you to a catalog of all U.S. government activities related to COVID-19.
An interagency website, organized by the White House Coronavirus Task Force, for definitive information on the public’s most frequently asked questions.
The site currently features content from the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Homeland Security, FEMA, the Department of the Treasury and the Small Business Administration.
Ease the financial stress
Your job status or financial situation can downgrade your overall mental health. Nobody wants to feel insecure or anxious about their economic stability.
According to Forbes, over 4.4 million Americans filed for unemployment by mid-April.
The source also states that “more than 26 million Americans have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 crisis, as hundreds of thousands of businesses forced to close, cut back their hours and operations.”
Booming industries and businesses like retail, hospitality, entertainment, and tourism, to name a few, are now on hold. As a result, millions of American employees have had their hours cut or laid off. Independent contractors and consultants have also been hit.
To counter the economic downgrade, the United States Congress has passed an aggressive program known as the CARES act, to provide relief for hard-working American families, small businesses, and various industries impacted by the COVID-19.
Here you can find an Unemployment Insurance Relief office in your state:
You can also contact the U.S. Department of Labor toll-free at 1-866-4USWAGE (1-866-487-9243).
Here you can get information about the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which allows U.S. employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for severe medical conditions or to care for a family member with a severe medical condition.
Another measure to ease the financial stress is to contact your utility providers, cable and Internet provider, and other monthly billing companies to explain your situation and request alternative bill payment arrangements as needed.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS)issued a “Coronavirus Tax Relief and Economic Impact Payments for Individuals and Families” provision, to tax-exempt eligible applicants COVID-19.
The institution also issued a paid leave for workers, in which you are “entitled to paid sick leave, either to tend to your own health needs or to care for a family member.”
In early March, Medicare — administered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) — will temporarily pay clinicians to provide telehealth services for beneficiaries residing across the entire country.
An official statement from Medicare says the following:
“Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Public Health Emergency, doctors and other health care providers can use telehealth services to treat COVID-19 (and for other medically reasonable purposes) from offices, hospitals, and places of residence (like homes, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities) as of March 6, 2020. Coinsurance and deductibles apply, though some healthcare providers are reducing or waiving the amount you pay for telehealth visits.
If you have coverage through a Medicare Advantage Plan, you won’t have to pay out-of-pocket costs (called cost-sharing) for COVID-19 tests. They may also offer more telehealth services than what was included in their approved 2020 benefits.”
That is excellent news for those who are in quarantine because of the pandemic.
Telemedicine is accessed through your phone, smartphone, or PC with a shared link to enable a video or other electronic devices.
Ask your health provider to schedule remote appointments for mental health, physical health needs, or substance use, if applicable.
For more information about the Medicare Telehealth initiative, please see the CMS – FAQ’s
Life after social distancing, quarantine, or isolation
It is hard to distance yourself from your family, job, and everyday life and habits.
If you were isolated or quarantined because of COVID-19, it’s expected to feel sadness because your friends and loved ones may have unfounded fears of contracting the disease from you, even after you are diagnosed not to be contagious.
The only way to cope with this pandemic is to learn about the disease and broadcast the information to those around you, so they can also properly understand the risks and calm their fears.
You should not be ashamed to seek professional help and guidance if you are overwhelmed with extreme stress, which includes sleep deprivation, eating, and behavioral disorders, inability to concentrate daily, or thinking of using drugs or alcohol to cope.