In the year 2022, quarantining remains a recurrent concept. As we adapt to our new normal — and as Covid-19 cases in the UAE continue to hover at 1,500 or so a day — there are plenty of reasons we would have or need to stay indoors, sometimes for days at a stretch.
Several studies and professionals have noted that isolating can have an adverse effect on our mental health. As Eleonore Brocq, clinical psychologist at Medcare Camali Mental Health Clinic puts it: "Individuals are more likely to report exhaustion, detachment from others, anxiety, irritability, insomnia, poor concentration and indecisiveness, which leads to deteriorating work performance” when quarantining.
Varsha Vasant, an architect in Dubai who contracted Covid-19 twice over the past two years, recommends yoga and exercise during the isolation period. “It helps stretch the muscles out as it recovers from joint pain. I’ve found it also helps my mental health,” she says.
Liane Fernandes, a social media and digital manager, cites journaling and meditation as factors that helped her cope indoors, while Aysha Razzak of PR agency Elevate Consulting says organising her home — in particular her make-up drawer — and fixing a skincare routine made her feel better.
While there is no one-size-fits-all solution to keep spirits high when self-isolating — especially if one has contracted Covid-19, symptoms of which vary greatly — we are definitely better equipped to deal with self-isolating two years into the pandemic, be it by seeking out comforting statistics, information or advice from professionals.
You can even invest in some feel-good products to lift your spirits. Here are five to try.
kikki.K Gratitude Journal
Over the years, gratitude journals have become increasingly common. There’s something about writing about your day, and genuinely appreciating the good things in your life, that can boost the mood, and even lead to better self-esteem in the long run. There’s no dearth of gratitude journals in the market, but if you have trouble putting pen to paper, look for something that prompts you to pick what you’re grateful about that day, such as the ones from kikki.K (Dh135 from www.jashanmal.com).
DIY flower arrangements from hand-tied
Hand-Tied, a UAE flower subscription service, stands out from the crowd in that the team picks the flowers, so each delivery is something of a surprise. The blooms also come with an arrangement and care guide — a cute little DIY craft idea while you're staying indoors. A "one-off" box is available for Dh185 from www.handtiedbox.com.
Healthy treats from Co Chocolat
Sometimes we all need a sweet pick-me-up. And what Co Chocolat does is create chocolates that feature good-for-you ingredients — think turmeric, matcha and moringa –— to help the healing process. It also limits its use of refined sugar, instead using sweeteners such as coconut sugar or dates. So you can enjoy some guilt-free chocolate, while supporting a home-grown brand.
Prices start at Dh28 for a bar; www.cochocolat.com
Soothing brews from Project Chaiwala
There's something comforting about sipping on a warm beverage. If you're unable or unwilling to make your own from scratch, consider ordering in from another home-grown brand. Project Chaiwala, known for its soothing chais, also has loose-leaf teas — the magic masala is delish — as well as special-edition kits from time to time if you’re in the mood to brew something new.
Sleep like a baby with Kanuda
If you're going to be spending a lot of time in bed, you might as well get that posture right. Kanuda was created by a physical therapist to treat posture, reduce neck pain and be more comfortable when using a pillow. They don’t exactly come cheap, but the pillows (from Dh550 on Amazon) are made with high-density foam, and designed to provide cervical spine and shoulder support. Perfect for long stretches in bed.
Other tips to keep in mind if you're self-isolating
Catch enough sleep
Getting a good night’s rest is key to restoring your immune system and protecting your mental health.
Have a purpose
Come up with a project you want to work on, ideally something that uses brain power.
Stay connected with loved ones
Don’t disconnect yourself. Get on video calls or message friends you’ve been meaning to catch up with. Social connection is a great mental health protective factor.
Exercise, try YouTube workout videos, walk around the house if you can. This is the way you get your body more tired and bring up all the serotonin that you need for mental well-being.
Create a routine
When so much seems out of control, it’s important to establish structure. Daily routines allow you to feel more anchored, so ask yourself: what parts of my day and my routine have been the most useful, important, enjoyable and helpful to me and how can I adapt them now?
Learn new things
Use this time as an opportunity to learn and try out things you usually have no time for. Listen to podcasts or read the books you left on your side table for months. It will help you get connected to your inner self, and you’ll be surprised how much better you feel.