The ultimate list of coping mechanisms when in lockdown — from your friendly neighborhood mad scientist

It pains me to see so many of my friends feeling dismayed at having to stay locked inside their homes during this unprecedented lockdown. I realized I was perhaps one of the few people who is not outright dreading the prospect of being at home for so long. If anything, in a twisted way, I am strangely happy at having this ‘alone’ time with family.

I fully appreciate how this whole affair can grate on the nerves and strain the mind and body, therefore, from someone who’s done quarantines as part of my social experiments and because of my general need for some quiet time every now and then, I have curated a list of healthy coping mechanisms that you can borrow and use if you’re feeling a little antsy right now.


For the body…

If you are fending off feelings of claustrophobia and this indignant sense that your movements are restricted because you can’t go to the gym or the pool or to your local park for a walk, here’s a list of alternatives to help you quiet the irritation.

  • Dance: Bust those moves in the privacy of your own home, in pajamas, playing whatever music you want to dance to. There are YouTube playlists and dance sequences where you can follow along even if you have two left feet like me. It doesn’t matter if you can’t keep up with the pace of the dance steps, It doesn’t matter how goofy you look, just get off your a$$ and shake it, it will do you a world of good.

For the mind…

A friend who is studying for an exam remarked to me, “If I could concentrate as deeply on my studies as I did on coronavirus, I’d be crushing all my study targets”. There is nothing like news about fear and danger that holds our attention with a gripping ferocity. There is a way to redirect the spotlight from the news to something else, use these to make that shift:

  • Listen to some uplifting music: Listen to every note, every tune, taking in everything when you do this, and maybe even close your eyes. It is easy to have music running in the background and forget to marvel at the beauty of it. There was a time when music was not all that ubiquitous and listening to a treasured song was a delightful thing to do. It’s time to bring back the sense of novelty to music. Designate a few ‘pick me up’ songs — maybe create a playlist like this one. Try and pick songs that you listened to during a happy time in your life, could be middle school, high school or even college. A ‘decade-defining’ song that corresponds to a happy time in your life will inadvertently bring a smile to your face even if the lyrics aren’t necessarily profound. Resurrect the memories of simpler, happier times through music

For the soul…

If you find yourself thinking about the meaning of life more often than usual, you’re not alone. You might feel the pain of doctors, police, public services workers and the poor and generally worry about the state of the world at times like these. In fact you might even think of all the things you didn’t get to do thus far in your life and how so many of your plans had to be rearranged because of this crisis.

You might suddenly be overcome with the inherent fragility of life and feel more lost and vulnerable than usual. Suddenly, the weight of your thoughts might lead you to question what the point of anything is. Fears, old and new, may resurface and demand to be dealt with. The discomfort may manifest differently for you, but on some level, there is a sense of alienation or despair which isn’t easily articulated, a pain you can’t see but can still feel very deeply. It comes and goes and you aren’t sure what to do with it. Here are a few ideas to make the most of it.

  • Make time to feel: There is no way around this. Denying these fears isn’t going to make them go away, let it in, feel what you are feeling, write poetry, long winded philosophical pieces or rants, but feel it and let it all out. You don’t need to know the answers to these existential questions but do not stop asking them. Feel what you are feeling, look at how others have it worse than you, and count your blessings. Engage with the emotions rather than avoiding them.

Author of 'How to be a Lighthouse'. I write for those pursuing excellence and meaning.

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