Mental Health Issues While Quarantined At Home
By Judith Rasband
Executive Director of the Conselle Institute of Image Management
We’re beating ourselves over the head with news about the physical danger of Coronavirus. But no one seems to be aware of the psychological dangers regarding a forced and prolonged staycation or working from home. Fact is, a lot of people are thinking, “Yea-a-a, I don’t have to get dressed for the next two weeks—or longer. Hanging around the house in your PJs, sweats, or shorts may sound cool. Maybe fun for a day. But for many unsuspecting individuals and families, it means mounting feelings of anxiety, depression, and loss of control over everyday life. Considering all the proactive efforts to stop the spread of sickness, I highly recommend being proactive in maintaining positive mental health at home.
My degrees are in Family and Consumer Science. My areas of expertise include the psychology of dress and image and its effect on the individual. I say wake up, get up, and clean up first thing each morning. Wash your face with comfortably hot water and apply lotion or whatever, according to your usual routine. Feeling fresh, comb or style your hair. Ladies, it doesn’t have to be full makeup, but blush and lip color certainly help you look more alive and ready to tackle the day.
Dress up a little, even though you think you don’t have to. Think about it. The whole world is hung up on first impressions on others, not knowing that first impressions are really on you—the wearer. What you choose to wear affects your brain—the way you think, the way you feel, and the way you act. Clean clothes and a sporty colored shirt do wonders to lift your spirit—red, blue, green, or blue-green are terrific options. Your peripheral vision picks up the peppy color, adding a little punch to your day. Put on a favorite patterned tee, shirt, sweater, or duster, a pair of comfortable shoes with firm support, and earrings for the ladies if you like.
Step up to the order for the day. What you choose to wear can be incredibly empowering, so select your clothes to your advantage. If kids and parents are expected to do school work or office work from home, it pays to look sharp—looking like you’re ready and able for brain work. Do you have file folders in your kitchen or post-it notes on the bathroom mirror? An essential task is to create a place for your work related items to live, and leave them there.
If you’ve got calls to make, wear a shirt with a collar and stand in front of a mirror. You’ll stand taller and sound more convincing as you speak to the face in the mirror—it works. Going further, layer your look with a lightweight, loose-fitting jacket. My clients often do this to boost their confidence and capability when working from home—even when they’re the only one who gets the visual message.
If you’ve got to keep kids in tow, the shirt collar adds visual authority, lifting your look and framing your face for better communication. Children focus a little longer on what you have to say, improving the chances they’ll follow directions. In addition to homework, make a list of action-oriented activities everyone can participate in, day or evening. How about a lego or block-building contest with prize? Or, carry out a cook-off using what’s in the cupboards and fridge.
We used to play hide-and-seek around the home with our kids. You might be surprised by some of the nifty places that are found. Choose a place you’d like to go for a real vacation, then pull out the map or go online to learn more about this place. Reorganize the kitchen cupboards, clothes closet, or toy closet. Kids get lost in the adventure of finding something they’ve forgotten all about. Write letters or draw pictures for grandparents, aunts, and uncles. You’ve got options.
Now about mealtime. If you’ve got a family, everybody needs to chip in preparing lunch and dinner. Single or in a group, do dress up your table. Put out a tablecloth or placemats to cheer the look of the table. Add a centerpiece—a pretty potted plant, a piece of decorative dinnerware, an arrangement of photos of family members, or children’s toys will do the job and spark conversation. Even sandwiches, a bowl of soup, mac and cheese, or a favorite family dish go down more happily with a festive look to the table.
Once or twice, really dress up for dinner. Print off some basic dining etiquette from the internet, talk about it at dinner, and practice like a pro. A few laughs are guaranteed. Wear a favorite piece of clothing to dinner and talk about why it’s a favorite. Happy memories are sure to surface as you talk. Drum up interest with a shop-in-your-closet experience. Everybody likes a new look with their clothes. After dinner and while still dressed up, call a relative or someone who lives alone. Even under quarantine you can call someone who might need some reassuring words.
These are extraordinary times. Life will go on at a different pace for a few days or weeks, but they are temporary. If you’re one who’s quarantined at home, keep in mind, Wake Up, Get Up, Clean Up, Dress Up, and Step Up. You’ll be better able to tackle the work at hand and accomplish positive results in your day safely sequestered at home.