How to psychologically deal with confinement?

How to psychologically deal with confinement?

Today the whole world is in a very difficult situation to have imagined a few months ago. Millions of people confined at home trying to contain this virus that we barely know, as we long for our old routines and so many things that seemed guaranteed but now we look forward to live again.

We are all together but separated in this, and what sounds as easy as staying at home, seems to be way more complicated than it seems, but that we have to learn to accept because it is not a scenario chosen by anyone.

The psychologist Miquel Ángel Manzano, an expert in Psychotherapy based on Acceptance, personal accompaniment, crisis and life dissatisfaction, tells us about the greatest challenges we face during this confinement and shares tips for coping with it in the best possible way.


How do we cope with the desire to leave home?

For most people it will be enough to remember how important our role is durign this crisis, and that our mission during these times is to stay home, for their own well-being and for everyone´s sake.

It is a good opportunity to observe the urgency and immediacy that we live in. And in most cases, with a slower pace, your nervous system understands the message that you have to slow down.

If this is not the case, you should ask yourself, what prevents you from pausing? What is the danger of going slowly? What valuable loss do I think I will have if I slow down?

These days we will spend much more time at home, with more sedentary activities. Thus, it might be worth thinking about reducing the consumption of stimulants.

How to manage our routine in a space that is always the same and often small?

It is a whole challenge that we are not used to, we are used to change our environment or leave when we get tired of a place and a space, but things have changed now.

The first recommendation is to keep as much order as possible, that is, when we finish a task we arrange the space before starting another one, if the space we inhabit is neat, it provides a sense of well-being to our nervous system. It is also advisable, to occupy different spaces for different tasks. A corner for writing or reading, another for watching TV, some other space for physical activity, etc. Somehow we have a feeling of change.

Although in the long run the routine is boring for us, it generally makes us feel good and calm down, so a good recommendation is to set up a varied daily schedule with a little physical activity.

How to handle the need for intimacy at home when living with your family?

Obviously with the confinement we all lose freedom and privacy, it is the price we pay for the social commitment to stop the coronavirus. We will all have moments of saturation, of needing to be alone, etc.

Remember that feelings will be the same in every person, so try to be kind and respectful at all times with others.

In order to have a sense of intimacy and a time of voluntary solitude, we have some resources, like requesting or limiting the access of others to some space of the house, but not for a while. Another possibility when the above is not possible, is to use headphones or that would move us away and allow us to breathe in the constant coexistence. Listen to your own music, watch movies on your own, etc.

How to overcome the obsession with hygiene and cleanliness?

We are at a time where it seems that the most prepared people are the ones suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder. That is, that person who spends his or her day cleaning everything and washing their hands.

It is normal for us all to be more concerned about hygiene, and it is safe for all of us to spend more time on this. Over time, everything will return to its place. At the moment, it is important to note if I am being excessive, that is, I have hygiene and cleanliness behaviours beyond the recommendations. For example, when I hear or read a news  about the virus do I feel the need to wash? If so, it is important to identify excesses of protection and ask for help to stop acting this way if I am not capable by my own. The sooner you regulate it, the less likely it is to become chronic and become a major problem.

How do we deal with anxiety and out of control cravings?

Each one of us has the habit of trying to feel better or less ill, some people, when nervous, calm down eating.

If you realize that you are eating more than usual, it is worthwhile to analyze  why you are upset about and compare it to other moments in your life that have made you feel the same. Again try to share your concerns with people you trust. And if you know any type of exercise or practice that can help you reduce your stress level, practice it more than usual, we are talking about physical exercise like, yoga, meditation, painting, etc. or anything else that has helped you before.

How to deal with the addiction of being constantly connected, the influence of fake news…

We already come from an inertia of always being connected, and now the feeling of loneliness and anguish can increase it.

See what you do while you’re connected, do I do it to feel accompanied? If so, you probably spend your time on social media for this reason.

Do I do it because I am worried? In this case, you are probably looking for news and information about COVID-19.

Anyways, you can take this observation to ask yourself if you need to spend that much time connected, and ask yourself what would you be doing if you were offline.

News must be contrasted, especially if we notice that some information is affecting us.

We need to keep in mind that no information is too credible, except statistics at this time. No one, healthcare workers, scientists and politicians has never faced this situation before, which is why we don’t really know much about it and information is been updated in a matter of hours.

Do you take online classes at the university, with all the problems that this entail, is it useful?

Certainly we are not in the scenario desired by anyone, but keeping the classes is highly recommended beyond the academic question. If you enjoy what you are studying, and I wish you really do, it is a great entertainment to be able to continue exploring, learning, and sharing it. In addition, with the extra time available, no one knows where your creativity can go, both to continue with your tasks and to solve the difficulties and limitations that confinement entails for the normal course development.

Recommendations for overcoming the fear and loneliness of foreign students?

The most important thing is to be able to feel accompanied. Fortunately, we live in the technological age and can make video calls anywhere in the world. This is a good time to break our emotional protections and open up to others. This means that as long as we have confidence  with the other, it is advisable to share our emotions, not as a complaint or as a problem, but as your reality. In addition, we can take the opportunity to convey to people far and near what they really mean to us.

Many times, in order not to hurt other people, we show a false facade of well-being or security that prevents us from connecting fluently. If you trust that your partner can handle your emotions, you will be able to turn your conversations into an exchange of what you are really experiencing. Shared emotions weight less.

How do we deal with the sense of helplessness in the case of those who have grandparents, elderly parents or family members?

Once again communication with the people involved is the most important thing. Being honest with what we are feeling and sharing the love is a great resource.

It is important to talk about these emotions with the person that worries us, but also with other family and friends to see how they are carrying it and perhaps we find in their words, or even in the fact of sharing, a little peace of mind and calm. On the other hand, it is very important to show interest and love for the people we care about, but we must be careful that we do not create a sense of fear in them. If I already showed interest in them today, I will not stress them with my concerns again and will share it with someone else who will trust me and who will know how to listen to me.

In the event of losing a loved one, how to deal with it?

This is a rare situation. It is highly advisable to do some type of individual ceremony if we are confined, and when possible make a group one that serves as a farewell.

An individual ceremony is the typical farewell letter that psychologists recommend and that we see in movies. While we can conduct a group dismissal ceremony, such as a symbolic burial, there is once again a great deal of communication with our trusted ones about how those affected by the loss are feeling. I emphasize the importance of social support on emotional digestion, what I live in solitude is more likely to be unresolved whereas what I share is metabolized in the course of a conversation. Let us give ourselves permission to express our emotions.

How do we deal with the return to normal?

When we realize that our head is spinning around with what we are going to do after the quarantine, we can stop, take a few deep breaths, and remind our minds, that at this point we can’t do anything to make it easier to go back. We thank you for your interest (to our mind), for your protective intention, for trying to evaluate different future scenarios and for trying to prepare, but we assure you that this is not the time, it is not helpful, and we tell the mind to trust us, and when the time comes, we will take care of what happens.