Remember just a few days or weeks ago, how good it felt to be home after a hectic day at work and have some “alone time” – if you’re lucky enough to have that? But during the COVID-19 outbreak, many of us are being mandated to stay home, while others are voluntarily self-quarantining.

And if you’re ill with COVID-19 or have been exposed, then you could even be isolated from family members in your own home. Whatever your situation is, you could be experiencing more social isolation and alone time than ever before. This situation can result in everything from boredom to anxiety to feelings of sadness and despair.

For many, alone time gets old really fast. And if you’re on the other end of the spectrum and are cooped up with your family all day every day, then you could also be feeling a bit stressed.

While you might not actually be socially isolated, it’s likely you are unable to be in personal contact with many of the friends, family members, and co-workers you normally are. Nor are you participating in the usual variety of experiences we are accustomed to experiencing.

Here are 10 tips for dealing with the stresses associated with social restrictions:

1. Stay in touch with friends and family

In a way, we’ve been preparing for this for a decade or more. With the rise of social media, texting, emailing, Skype, and FaceTime – the pieces are already in place for staying in touch without personal contact. Although we have been encouraged to put the phone down and go talk to people in person, this is not the time to start being more sociable in person.

2. Communicate with co-workers

Although working from home can be isolating and make you feel out of the loop, keep in mind your co-workers are in the same boat. While the urge might be to decrease the number of scheduled meetings, this might not be the best time to do that. Taking advantage of frequent check-ins via Skype or other video conferencing helps keep everyone in the loop and cuts down on email chains long enough to encircle the globe.

Keeping lines of communication open has never been more important. And be patient and compassionate – your co-workers are undoubtedly as stressed as you are. Here are more tips on working from home or if you’re trying to juggle working from home with having kids at home

3. Safely reach out to someone who might be feeling even more isolated than you

Keep in mind that as isolated as you feel, there are probably others – individuals who are normally fairly isolated – who are feeling a sense of isolation even more. For example, elderly people who tend to be shut-ins, but depend on visits from family and friends, could be feeling even more shut in than usual.

Friends and family can’t visit, the Meals on Wheels deliverer can’t stick around and chat, and they can’t go outside and talk to their neighbors over the back fence. So, pick up the phone and call your grandmother or an elderly neighbor or send a sick friend a virtual flower bouquet. Reaching out to someone who is really isolated is a great way to feel better about your own situation.

4. Get outside, maybe even plant a garden

Even if it’s just to sit on your porch or walk around your yard – or even just sitting near an open window if going outside isn’t an option – getting a little fresh air and looking beyond the four walls of your home can really make you feel better. And if it’s sunny, so much the better. Soaking up some sunshine can do wonders for your mood and your vitamin D level. It’s spring, so consider planting a garden in your yard or on your deck.

Some garden centers offer curbside pickup and virtual garden shows. And if it’s safe to range out into your neighborhood, then take a walk or go for a run. Wave to neighbors from afar – they’re in the same boat you are.

But check with your city, county, or state government to be sure you’re following recommended or mandated COVID-19 regulations. And if you see the area where you usually jog has too many people there, then stay away. It’s important, even outside, to practice social distancing no matter what local regulations call for.

5. Participate in stress reduction practices

Social isolation is a big source of stress, anxiety, and depression. This is the time to draw on your experience with stress-reducing techniques – meditation, yoga, prayer, even a hot bath – whatever healthful practices help you unwind. If you don’t have experience with such techniques, then now is a good time to start. Here are some free online guided meditation and yoga sessions:

If you can listen to relaxing music while you work, then it will go a long way toward keeping you calm. This is what I’m listening to as I write this post (healing piano).

6. Get some exercise

I don’t need to tell you that exercise is one of the best ways to reduce stress and boost your mood. Unfortunately, many of us go to a health club or gym for our regular exercise.

Although this is not an option at the moment, there are lots of options for exercising at home, even if you don’t have home exercise equipment – from walking, marching, or jogging in place, to rubber exercise bands, stair steps, and online exercise routines – even if you can’t go outside for a walk or jog. Here are links to several online exercise routines.

 7. Keep a journal

You can journal about your experiences, which itself can be stress reducing. In addition, perhaps there is someone you want to be communicating with but can’t right now. By keeping a journal, you can share some of it with that person in the future. Or write an actual snail mail letter to someone you want to share with, particularly if they don’t have internet access.

8. Eat healthy foods

When you’re stressed out, it’s easy to choose food for comfort, rather than for nutrition. Everyone has their favorite comfort food – mine is mac and cheese. Unfortunately, fresh veggies are rarely at the top of the comfort food list. One thing I’ve noticed is that fresh vegetables and fruits are not in short supply – at least not where I live.

Neither are fresh meats, fish, poultry, or dairy products. It’s actually the less-healthy foods that are being binge-purchased – stuff that lasts forever in the cupboard or freezer. And add a little extra spice – garlic, onion, cayenne, cinnamon, turmeric – to your cooking to ward off the bugs and vampires.

Grocery stores are making it easy to avoid viral exposure while still being able to get the fresh foods you require to stay healthy. Many of them offer online ordering with parking lot or curbside delivery. 

They also set aside shopping hours for high-risk individuals who have no choice but to go out. Grocery store workers have been seen swabbing down shopping carts with Lysol. But, if you’re at high risk, ordering online or having a friend shop for you are your best options.

9. Cuddle your pet

If you are not sick with COVID-19 and have a pet, then make it an instant support animal – at least within the walls of your home. Cuddling with your cat, dog, or other furry friend is therapeutic. Not sure about scaly friends, but I’m sure an iguana owner might beg to differ. But don’t forget to wash your hands when you’re done. And if you don’t have a pet, but you like animals, there are lots of heartwarming animal videos online.

Notes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): 

The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads mostly from person to person through respiratory droplets from coughing and sneezing. At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals, including pets, can spread COVID-19 to people or that they might be a source of infection in the United States.

If you are sick with COVID-19 (either suspected or confirmed), you should restrict contact with pets and other animals, just like you would around other people.

This is particularly important if you have cats or ferrets. A recent study found that they can acquire the virus that causes COVID-19. It is recommended to keep your cats indoors with you. Check back frequently at the CDC website for updates. 

10. And don’t forget to laugh

It’s easy to get dragged down into the doldrums with the 24-hour COVID-19 news cycle. It’s as if nothing else in the world is happening. Find something funny each day to share with family, friends, or co-workers – a joke, a funny video, or a meme. Check out The Comedy Channel instead of CNN for an hour or so. There are also some pretty funny memes and videos online. Here are some examples:

If you’re following all these tips and you’re still stressed out, then try a nutritional supplement that helps support you during these trying times – like Thorne’s Hemp Oil Plus, PharmaGABA, or Relora Plus to calm you down, Deproloft to boost your mood, or Cortrex to support your adrenals.

And finally, this website offers a free complete course in dealing with the stress of self-isolation.

Stay well. Stay calm. #AloneTogether

An important note: No dietary supplement can diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, including COVID-19. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is especially important to understand that no dietary supplement, no diet, and no lifestyle modifications – other than the recommended social distancing and hygiene practices – can prevent you from being infected with the COVID-19 virus. No current research supports the use of any dietary supplement to protect you from being infected with the COVID-19 virus.