Isolation at home is not fun for some people. Why you are trapped in your home is another matter entirely. Maybe you are facing an ongoing threat from an epidemic or pandemic, or maybe you just had the rotten luck to be placed under house arrest for some reason, maybe reasons we won’t talk about…
Moving swiftly on, one must be wary of contracting cabin fever, going mad from the doldrums and other psychological or emotional imbalances that result from having your day-to-day routine completely shut down, and being forced to inhabit a comparatively small space for a long period of time, perhaps with some other people or with your family members.
It is easy to poke fun at it until you are the one that has to go through it. As it turns out, lots of people just don’t abide well when all they have is themselves for company and entertainment.
As it also turns out, many couples who otherwise enjoy each other’s company may turn hostile if forced to endure too much of it. Sometimes you really can have too much of a good thing.
No matter why you are cooped up during at-home isolation, I’m coming to the rescue today with a list of 8 things that can help you survive it.
Table of Contents
This House is a Prison! Why are You Keeping Me Here?!
As I mentioned above, you could be facing at-home isolation for one of several plausible reasons.
The first one, and probably the most relevant for folks reading this article, is if you are facing an epidemic or pandemic situation, one that has gotten so badly out of control or merely sown so much fear that people are practicing social distancing or complying with a government-mandated shelter in place order.
The idea is that if people stop making contact with other people, the virus will have nowhere to go, and no one to spread to.
Laughably for some of you, and not funny at all for others, house arrest is another possible option that will keep you indoors with your location accounted for.
I don’t doubt there are just a couple of you out there who are much acquainted with those ugly, chunky plastic tracking anklets. I’m not judging you, but I am here to help you get through your special “home isolation session” with your sanity intact.
Lastly, maybe you are just tired of the world, or tired of paying the price to participate in it and have decided to radically scale back your lifestyle.
As it turns out, it’s easy to save a lot of money when you don’t go out and partake of activities taken as given in most lifestyles. Or maybe you’re coming at it from a different angle in that you are so dang broke you simply can’t afford to do anything.
With only a little variation, practically it does not matter why you’re being isolated at home; all that matters is how you’re going to deal with it.
Keeping It in Perspective
I find it mildly hilarious that the same people who will go home and stay home at any opportunity, who yearn for going straight home to veg out after a hard day of work and who cannot wait to disengage from crowded social situations in order to retire to the comfort, familiarity and entertainment-laden splendor of their home…
…these same people absolutely lose their minds when they are forced to stay at home all of a sudden.
It seems to me one of life’s great mysteries, but, nonetheless, that is what happens for most of us.
It is easy to understand a social extrovert’s anxiety and suffering when you put them in a box and force them to stay there but harder to understand for those of us who are more interested in things than people and looking inward rather than outward for meaning, understanding and learning opportunities.
But no matter if you are a social dynamo or a reclusive bookworm there’s one thing you must keep in mind in order to maintain your sanity and your emotional equilibrium for the duration of your isolation; if you are at your home, chances are things are pretty good.
You will have all or nearly all of your belongings there, you have full control over the environment and, more importantly, you are completely free to be yourself in most situations.
You should not be feeling any pressure or that heat under the collar that comes with being in an environment you are unsuited to.
You Must Be Goal Oriented
There’s one more thing most people must do in order to keep from going crazy during a time of isolation, and that is to maintain some type of structure, a plan, some type of objective that you are working for whatever it is.
If all you plan on doing under the circumstances is being a lazy slug, contemplating your navel and playing the woe-is-me game you are going to have a bad, bad time.
If, instead, you can focus your energy towards achieving something, whatever it might be, you might actually find you’re grateful for your schedule being suddenly cleared out, coming and going.
Very few of us have the opportunity these days to truly commit ourselves to a singular task, and you should not squander it, not even a minute of it!
On the list of survival tips below you will find some ideas to help you put your restless energy created in confinement to good and productive use.
You may waste a lot of things in your life, but you should strive to never waste time.
Some goals you might consider setting for yourself include:
- making a complete financial plan for the next 1, 2 or 5 years
- thinking seriously about that rural retreat you always wanted to get, and start finding land opportunities online
- make travel plans for when all of this is over
- set up a personal goal of improving yourself, to reach a certain goal or ideal for yourself mentally and emotionally
- make a bulletproof survival plan that will have you covered for at least one year
- make a physical goal (losing weight, improving your strength) and make detailed plans on how to achieve it
8 Ways to Survive At-Home Isolation
1. Prepare in Abundance
Most preppers probably do not need to be told this, but you should be prepared for any lengthy stay indoors and prepared in great abundance. You need to be thinking “over-supply”, not “barely getting by”.
Aside from alleviating the hassle and panic that comes with running low on vital necessities like food, water, medicine and other household goods you can also use your ample preps to instill some much-needed variety in what could otherwise be a boring, bland and repetitive menu, among other things.
If you have a great selection of canned goods, pouched meals and frozen meats you’ll have plenty of variety in both your dietary intake and your menu, which will keep your physical and mental health in tip-top shape.
Yes, it is entirely true that you can survive solely on one or two staples or even a single comestible that has a nutritionally complete profile, but the vast majority of people will succumb to boredom very quickly on such a regimented and repetitive diet.
Think of it this way: the more you have on hand and in stock the less you will have to leave to go get (assuming you can travel during your bout of isolation) and the less you will miss in case you cannot resupply at all.
Yes, logistically it is far easier and often more economical to buy cheap and stack deep just the staples and necessities, but going the extra mile to include items that you really enjoy or can serve as sort of meal “multipliers” is a great idea for combating the doldrums during extended at-home isolation.
2. Work Your Project List
If you have a list of home-improvement, DIY or other vocational projects that have been growing moss an extended period of isolation at home is a great time to work on them.
Assuming you have the materials you need, it’ll be a great time to repaint the interior, hang up some new shelves, install trim, swap out light fixtures or tackle one of several hundred home improvement projects that need doing regularly.
Maybe you are feeling a little bit crafty and want to build something or create something that you can use.
You can consider stippling your pistol or the furniture on one of your long guns, building a standing shelf or rack for your prepping gear, or crafting a walking stick.
I’ll bet you have always had that one nifty project idea floating around your head, now is the time to get to work on it!
One great prepper-centric project you can embark on is rifling through all of your preps and double-checking them for readiness.
Double-check all the batteries in all your electronics. Check the oil in your car, the air in its tires, all of its bulbs and all of its fluids. Clean, oil and function check all of your firearms.
It might sound like a ton of work, but trust me; once you get going and build up a little momentum it is almost therapeutic to ensure that everything is functional, clean and in its place.
3. Self-Improvement Marathon
One time-tested way to combat cabin fever is to embark on an odyssey of self-improvement. If you have been putting off implementing your exercise plan, a healthy eating regimen or any variety of other quality-of-life improvements, now is definitely the time.
You should not be surprised to hear this, but when you improve your health you improve your overall mood, and exercise is one of the best things you can do for both your physical and your mental health.
Exercise in conjunction with a healthy diet will lower your blood pressure, elevate your idle mood and help you sleep better; three factors that will help you get through the bout of isolation with your sanity intact.
If your level of physical fitness is already high, isolation is no reason to stop, but your abundance of free time might be better spent on working on your emotional and mental health.
If you deal with a lot of stress, carry around a trolley full of emotional baggage, or just don’t like the kind of person you are very much in general, your enforced sabbatical is a great time to start dealing with some of those issues.
You can start a journal, engage in remote therapy sessions, or try to reconnect with people to right the wrongs that have been hampering your life one way or the other.
Don’t put this stuff off any more than you already have. Use the isolation as an opportunity to deal with the things that are a thorn in your side. Think of it as a gift.
4. Improve your Education
You should never stop learning, and that counts double for preppers. There are so many classic subjects as well as so many skillsets to learn that you’ll never run out of things to investigate, practice and expand your knowledge on.
Being cooped up at home with not much else to do is the perfect time to dig deep into a subject that you already have under your belt and want to expand your knowledge on or embark on learning an entirely new subject.
You’ll have plenty of time and even more options when it comes to self-directed learning.
There’s a wealth of expert information all over the Internet for starters, and that’s before you turn to books, magazines and proper online courses.
From the fundamentally basic to the extraordinarily complex and esoteric, you can learn almost anything all on your own if you set your mind to it.
And you don’t have to limit yourself to traditional topics, either. Want to take it upon yourself to expand your knowledge of medicinal plants, gardening, land navigation, meteorology and other subjects that are of a special interest to preppers?
Start! Just go! Don’t listen to what anyone else has to say on the matter: In our day, the only people that scoff at self-directed learning are idiots and you can take that to the bank.
5. Take up a Hobby
Maybe you are in need and deserving of a sabbatical after all. That may perhaps be the best use of your at-home isolation; a sort of staycation.
If you’re like most people you probably have no shortage of things you enjoy, and fun hobbies to engage in while at home. Now is a good time to cut loose and completely indulge.
Chances are you have a huge backlog of books if you are a reader like me. Take no shame, make a cup of your favorite coffee or tea, put your feet up and start plowing through that to-read list.
This can do double duty as an educational enhancement if you choose the right books. If you are a video gamer and assuming you still have power you can engage in a little bit of escapism with your favorite video game.
Online play can also help you stay connected with friends, even if they are just online friends that you game with regularly.
Painters and other artists can let their ambitions and their creativity run wild without distractions. Woodworkers can busy themselves in their garage or woodshop. Gardeners and others of a botanical bent can tend to their potted plants or to their gardens.
Grease monkeys can work on their prized cars or bikes. Powder-burners can tinker with their guns.
Everyone has that one thing they’re in to above all others. Don’t be afraid to dive headfirst into it for the direction if you can afford it.
If you don’t have a hobby, or your existing hobbies have grown stale, take up a new one. If you don’t know what you might like, now is the perfect time to dabble in a little bit of everything or hop online and cruise around until you find something that does.
Here’s a quick list of hobbies to consider:
- starting a blog
- starting a YouTube vlog
- painting and drawing
- playing board games
- improving your cooking skills
- collecting various things such as coins
- doing coloring books (yes, there are coloring books for grown-ups)
- doing various DIY projects using a cricut machine
- using an embroidery machine to start embroidering
- learning to play the guitar, or some other musical instrument
- learning to do magic tricks
- learning any one of the hundreds of card games out there
- getting started in leathercrafting
- learning how to sow and repurpose clothes
- learning to use and getting a HAM radio license
- writing poems, novels or screenplays
- training your dog (finally!)
- learning to give a massage
- learn the art of storytelling
- become a stand-up comedian
- … and many more!
6. Work Your Side Gig
There’s no reason to let moss start growing just because you are dealing with isolation, whether self-imposed or otherwise.
In the event of an imposed lockdown, as is often the case when dealing with an epidemic, pandemic or terrorist threat the resultant loss of income can be devastating for many. It pays to have a side gig you can fall back on, one that is internet or mail based in particular.
There are all kinds of things you can do from home, like coding, consulting, tutoring, writing, graphic design and much more.
No matter what you do and how you market or deliver it you can make a pretty good living working from home, or at least enough to help you take the edge off the loss of your primary job until such time the lockdown is lifted.
More than a few people have found their side gig, which also happens to be their passion, equal or even entirely eclipse the income from their primary job during times like this when forced to work it full time.
If you stay diligent and work hard you may find that isolation is the jumpstart you needed to get over the initial bump with your side gig and make that your full-time job.
Quick list of things folks can do from home for a side income:
- • become a coach and offer online consultations
- • start a blog in a certain niche and start writing educational “how-to” articles
- • start a YouTube vlog in a carefully chosen niche that you can monetize once the channel gains traction
- • taking up your skills on websites like Fiverr.com
- • make DIY toys that you can sell on eBay, Facebook and in other places
- • learning web design, and working in Photosop
- • learning video editing
7. Reach Out
Unless you are well and truly completely sick of the world and everybody in it don’t let yourself become completely socially isolated during your period of at-home lockdown.
Everybody has someone that they want in their life, be it friends or family. Just because you cannot go see them, or they you, does not mean you have to or should let your bonds grow thin.
Make sure you’re taking the time to reach out to the people you care about and enjoy interacting with. Call them, text them, use social media video messaging or other applications to get in a little face time with them.
Reach out to the people that you lost track of if you regret doing so. It is never too late until the clock strikes midnight, so to speak. Don’t let things go unsaid, and don’t let people drift away.
If you are dealing with isolation because of some event use the opportunity to network with others and see how their situation is, how they’re handling it, what they have found helpful and what they know, especially when verifiable information is scarce and hard to come by. If you are feeling particularly sentimental you can even write someone a letter.
Of course it is old-fashioned and seemingly completely obsolete in this era of email and other internet-based communications, but I will tell you that everybody loves getting a handwritten letter.
There is something about seeing someone’s handwriting on a piece of paper, that palpable link to them, that is an under-appreciated joy in this modern era.
Unless you write something terse in a sort of telegraph style I’ll bet you most people hang on to your letter and turn it into a keepsake.
8. Limit News and Social Media Binges
For all of the positive, helpful things you can do for yourself while in isolation there’s one thing you can do that is definitely going to hurt your mental and emotional health, and that is overindulgence in news and social media.
Far from keeping you connected and up-to-date, gorging on either of these “news sources” will only stress you out with a pervasive sense of uncertainty as well as instill a wicked case of FOMO; fear of missing out.
In the case of the former, if they are peddling you something that will make you enraged or afraid they have no viewership to speak of and to all you can count on in the age of New Media is the old, classic media spewing nothing but those two things.
It’s not good for you and serves no purpose, so cut it out.
In the case of the latter, if you are dealing with a lockdown but the rest of the world isn’t, you’re going to start fomenting a wicked case of jealousy and envy, specifically that you are missing out on all the activities that everyone else gets to enjoy and you aren’t.
That gnawing feeling is called FOMO, and it can make you a little crazy if you let it.
If you are focused on all the things you are missing out on, and feeling bitter about it, you aren’t focusing on taking care of yourself, growing, learning, resting, relaxing or anything else at all that you could and should be doing but that.
Pretty soon you’ll glance down at your watch and it will look like the minute hand is going backwards as the walls close in and the shadows gibber whispers of your own inadequacy…
Cabin fever plus FOMO is a deadly combination for your sanity.
Social media is one of the more difficult things to wean yourself off of, but you should endeavor to do just that.
Even if that is your primary way of keeping up with people you don’t want to lose track of, you should throttle back your usage to 30 minutes or an hour a day, max.
It is way too easy to be scrolling, and scrolling, and scrolling mindlessly, for hours and then days at a time.
Endeavor to have more meaningful interactions with those people you do want to keep track of by calling them at the very least.
Dealing with at-home isolation is a significant stressor for most people, but armed with the right preps, the right attitude and a to-do list of projects you can keep your energies focused on improvement, on growing and on focusing on the right things.
Doing all of the above can make the wait until you can finally emerge back into public life much more pleasant and even significantly productive.
Use our list of eight procedures and tips to your benefit and keep it handy when you are forced to stay buttoned up in your home.
Tom Marlowe practically grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, Tom has the experience to help civilian shooters figure out what will work best for them.