The human mind is complicated, to say the least. On a psychological level, the moment you tell somebody they can’t do something, they develop a sudden unquenchable thirst to do exactly what they’ve been forbidden from engaging in. This tension is exactly what’s happening to the millions of people who feel stir-crazy and claustrophobic staying home during the lockdown. Now that restaurants are closed, and public venues have been shuttered, you might be surprised to discover you’re extremely tempted to leave the house and just go do something – anything – outside, despite being advised not to. Don’t give in however. Don’t allow knee-jerk rebellion to sway you into making dangerous decisions just to scratch an itch. Here are a few tips on how to deal with feelings of claustrophobia during lockdown:
I. Let Some Fresh Air In: As you spend extended amounts of time indoors, don’t forget to crack your windows open and let in plenty of fresh air every day. As incidental as it sounds, the simple task of being able to breathe in fresh air contributes both to emotional stability and physical health. Breathing in stuffy air induces lethargy over time, and lethargy amplifies negative emotions such as claustrophobia.
II. Don’t Be Defeatist: Nothing about being under quarantine feels good. It’s confining, it’s inconvenient, it’s frustrating and it’s scary. That being said, obsessing over everything that’s going wrong will only plunge you into a spiral of never-ending anxiety. Remind yourself that this situation is only temporary, and focus on adapting to the changes and shifts in your life. Instead of automatically accepting your feelings of confinement, challenge them with hope and optimism.
III. Find a Distraction: Boredom is a product of idleness. The less activity you have to occupy your time with, the more opportunity you have to engage in destructive patterns of thought. Come up with a list of constructive things to do, and dedicate yourself to self-improvement every single day. There are many different ways to occupy your time with a little bit of imagination. If you can, tap into a hobby which you’re passionate about. This will help you ignore the fact that you have less freedom to move around.
The thing about claustrophobia is, even though it’s natural, it’s not rational. The panic and frustration triggered by claustrophobia is an extreme emotional response to circumstances which can be managed using a little ingenuity. Don’t lose sight of the fact that being ordered to stay home has nothing to do with inflicting punishment on you. In fact, all of these extraordinary policies are intended to safeguard your health and protect the well-being of society at large. It might not feel like it in the heat of the moment, but adhering to the advice of public health specialists is society’s best chance of overcoming the threat posed by the pandemic. As much as you may want to throw caution to the wind and live life the way you used to, stay put, and be patient for a little while longer. The sacrifice is well worth it.