Quarantine Can Do's for Mental Health
I’m starting to think that leaving Berlin was foolish.
Besides leaving behind an obnoxiously handsome fencer who happened to be my best online date ever, I left the coolest city in Europe at 7 am to spend six hours in the Madrid airport on the day Coronavirus was declared a pandemic.
That isn’t exactly like running my tongue along the inside of a public toilet in Wuhan on Valentine’s Day, but it’s not genius.
Thankfully I made it safely to my lovely city of Seville which happens to smell like orange blossoms at this time of year. However, it took me about thirty minutes to realize I had to get out while I still could. Why? Well, I’ve read enough dystopian fiction and watched enough zombie horror to know that you’ve got to leave densely populated areas ASAP.
Also, I live in a mini apartment without natural light. The only window opens up to a bathtub-sized patio. It’s no place to be alone for two weeks on lockdown.
So when my dear friend Becky called and said she felt alone, I packed my bags. I shoved a suitcase full of canned tuna and pajamas and bought a ticket for the first train to her town. While on the train, the president of Spain announced that we would soon lose freedom of movement.
Now I’m in quarantine. Total lockdown in Spain. We can’t go outside unless we need food or medicine and the military is in the streets to enforce that.
Leaving Berlin and traveling through Madrid and Seville to be with my friend was selfish. When I should have been staying put to protect the wellbeing of others, I madly rushed to be with a friend for my own mental health, possibly putting many people in danger.
I’m not asking for anyone’s forgiveness, but I’d like to atone. While confined to our homes, it’s easy to feel more helpless than helpful, so I’ve been brainstorming ways to change that. What can I do while in quarantine to help others during this time?
I Can Be Available
When my friends or family need to talk, I can make myself available. I don’t want to always be glued to my phone, but if I can peel my eyes away from social media I should take those video calls from the people I love.
In my madness for a connection, I’ve also been ignoring the person I’m staying with. I’m going to make time to put away technology and cut out distractions to have a meaningful connection with the only other person I’ll be seeing for a while.
I Can Connect with Other People
With social media, I can figure out who in my area needs help. By joining a local quarantine community online I can connect with neighbors I didn’t know I had. There are lots of ways to do this but Panion is unique in that I can see all the things I have in common with people in quarantine near me.
When I know what we have in common, I can create the perfect playlist for our balcony dance party. Then I can keep everyone informed about it by creating an event open to the entire quarantine community. I can also create a virtual gathering for us to share recipes, favorite shows, or local news articles. Maybe I can even start a virtual book club using one of the many wonderful lists people are publishing right now.
I Can Bring Supplies to People Who Need Them
After two weeks of isolation, if I’m still symptomless, I’ll fight Becky to be the one who goes to the grocery store. Before making that trip, I’ll be slipping notes under doors and shouting across the balconies to ask what people need.
I Can Be Forgiving
Everyone is stressed and from the pictures of empty shelves in grocery stores, I can see that some of us are experiencing moments of panic. This means we aren’t all going to be on our best behavior.
I can’t control that. I can’t make people share resources, act calmly, or be kind. But I can understand and forgive the people who fail me because there will certainly be moments when I fail them too.
Forgiveness doesn’t give others a pass to be jerks. It helps me stay calm in the face of things I can’t change and helps me maintain relationships with the people I care about in rough times.
Hopefully, I can forgive myself for having left Berlin.