OHIO, USA — As the days of social distancing continue to tick by, people maybe feeling a bit of cabin fever or quarantine fatigue. However, it’s important to strike a balance between mental health and safety.
“At a time when then environment is calling us all to be outside and socialize, particularly around here in northeast Ohio where we’ve been cooped up for a long time anyway, it’s a real personal challenge,” says Dr. Felipe Amunategui, a psychiatrist at University Hospitals.
The weather is heating up and the days of social distancing are dragging on. Thus, the urge to get outside to do some outdoor activities or even host a barbecue may be starting to creep in.
“It’s not like we have bombs being dropped,” says Dr. Amunategui. “The threat is invisible so we don’t have constant reminders of how serious this is.”
However, even if the reminders aren’t constantly there, doctors are hoping people remember why we’re doing all of this.
“I completely appreciate cabin fever, but people need to take this seriously,” says Dr. Keith Armitage, the Medical Director of the UH Roe Green Center for Travel Medicine & Global Health. “Standing next to somebody for minutes, half an hour, an hour or being at an outdoor social group for an extended period of time, I think, is not worth the risk in terms of what we’re trying to do as a community to protect the vulnerable.”
Doctors say if you’re feeling quarantine fatigue, the best solution is to find a happy medium. They suggest you don’t have a party but maybe invite a loved one over to sit outside at an acceptable distance and talk to help with feelings of loneliness.
“Where people do get together outdoors, but stay 10 feet apart is really very safe,” says Dr. Armitage.
While that social distance may sound awkward, it’s not as strange as you think. For example, a few chairs on my deck are already set up at over 10 feet apart, which would be perfectly fine to enjoy some much needed company.
“Instead of thinking in terms of all or none, starting putting more effort into how can I adapt to this situation,” says Dr. Amunategui.
Doctors stress that if you’re experiencing unusually high amounts of anxiety during this social distancing, you should contact your primary care physician. However, if your case isn’t to that extreme, you should remember that it’s only natural to feel fatigue at this point. Dr. Amunategui says you should try to get through by taking solace in the little things.
“Like listening to music,” says Dr. Amunategui. “The little pleasures that are very significant. Start being creative about how do we adapt to this until things ease up and return to whatever normal is going to be.”