Quarantine is often an unpleasant experience for those who undergo it. Separation from loved ones, the loss of freedom, uncertainty over disease status, and boredom can, on occasion, create dramatic effects. Suicide has been reported, substantial anger generated, and lawsuits brought following the imposition of quarantine in previous outbreaks. The potential benefits of mandatory mass quarantine need to be weighed carefully against the possible psychological costs. Successful use of quarantine as a public health measure requires us to reduce, as far as possible, the negative effects associated with it.
Emotional toll of quarantine
People in quarantine will experience “the experience” in different ways. Some may have lost loved ones prior to quarantining; some may have mental health issues; some may struggle to find a routine; some may thrive on being isolated. Similar to how five fingers are not the same, each person going through the hotel quarantine experience will bring their own baggage and deal with the situation in different ways.
Having lived away from family for 24 years, having gone through the Melbourne lockdown in 2020, having been through far worse situations, and having recently done an emotionally challenging trip to India and back, the hotel quarantine experience for me was relatively easy. Both time and the 14 days flew. I sort of had a routine; 6:30am wake up; 6:45am coffee; 7am workout; 7:30 shower; 7:45 breakfast; 8-12 working with breaks in between; 12-1 lunch; 1-5 working with breaks in between; 5pm workout; 5:30pm shower; 6pm dinner; 6:30 phone calls with wife, friends and/or family; 7:30pm writing articles for my blog; 8pm TV time; 9pm sleep. This was on a typical weekday. Weekends involved more time on my blogs, exercise, chatting with my best half, and walking up and down the room for a step count goal! There were times, especially on Day 1, when I wondered if I was a caged animal, a prisoner etc. However, it’s about shifting the mindset and I believe I have 100% control over my mind. Conquering the mind and telling myself about the context, about the fact that the people working in the hotel are doing as they are told and what’s best for the community, and fully understanding my circle of influence, I made the best of what was a lukewarm situation.
Without generalising (as per my note above regarding different people with different baggage) I believe that there are generally 14 emotions, at a minimum, that people experience during their time in hotel quarantine. Without further adieu, here are 14 emotions I think people may collectively feel at any one point while undergoing hotel quarantine.
Confusion: 1st day of quarantine
The hotel quarantine can have you feeling overwhelmed so, it is normal to feel confused about your feeling in a situation like this. It is normal to not feel like yourself because of the pandemic so don’t be surprised if you’re feel different or a little off.
Annoyance: 2ndday of quarantine
It’s annoying to conform to quarantine protocols and being confined in a hotel room when life outside the hotel may seem to be “normal”!
Boredom: 3rd day of quarantine
“Are you bored?” was the question I got asked most often when people learnt about my hotel quarantine. No one is excited by the idea of hotel quarantine. Being stuck indoors for an extended stay isn’t fun no matter where you are. The first two may be out of your control, but you can at least decide on things to do in hotel quarantine that suit you.
Pensiveness: 4th day of quarantine
Research shows that boredom, isolation, and frustration are the most reported feelings in quarantine. See that person staring out the window who looks so sad and lost in thought? He or she is pensive, the opposite of cheery and carefree.
Acceptance: 5th day of quarantine
When life is not exactly as we want it to be, it can be helpful to turn our minds towards acceptance. No emotion lasts forever when it is fully accepted and experienced. Acceptance of our emotions, our thoughts, and our struggles is a powerful way to cope in the context of the pandemic.
Calmness: 6th day of quarantine
It’s hard to keep calm and carry on, when at times you feel more like panicking and hiding under the blankets until it’s all over. But, you need to stay calm! Breathe…
Serenity: 7th day of quarantine
In today’s world of global pandemic, more than ever, we need a moment of tranquility in our daily life. I’ve found serenity in creation. Writing allows me to practice the art of introspection. Writing helps me to see beyond myself. Writing allows me to share an observation I make with someone else. Writing is what I have used to stay sane. Writing is where I meet with serenity.
Sympathy: 8th day of quarantine
We’re all struggling during this health crisis, but people mourning the deaths of their loved ones really need our support.
Tired: 9th day of quarantine
It’s easy to grow tired of the food you have already been eating the past week, with another week to go.
Impatient: 10th day of quarantine
If you are feeling incredibly stressed right now, you are not alone. If all that stress is making you cranky, irritable, and on edge, that, too, is understandable. Stress can make you feel short on patience as well. Your fuse may be shorter than usual. You may be angry. You may be losing your temper easily. You may be yelling more than you’d like to. You may even be having trouble controlling your anger.
While anger is an understandable emotional reaction to stress, it’s important that we don’t let it get the better of us.
Vigilance: 11th day of quarantine
Caution fatigue can result from a decreased sensitivity to repeated warnings. You can combat quarantine fatigue with self-care, conversations with loved ones and shifting your mindset so following guidelines seems rewarding instead of dreadful.
Sadness: 12th day of quarantine
You may still be feeling sad but be okay with it. Allow yourself to sit and feel this sadness.
Interest: 13th day of quarantine
It’s easy to lose interest in doing simple things that you once loved doing.
Anticipation: 14th day of quarantine
Remember the anticipation of the build up prior to date night? That’s what Day 14 in quarantine is all about! Not matter what you have to look forward to upon exiting the hotel, savour that moment. It’s priceless!
One of the lessons this pandemic has taught me is that it’s up to all of us to care enough about one another, so our fear does not dictate what we become as a society. Those of us not in quarantine should be compassionate enough to care how we treat those going through this experience purely to protect the general population.
Self-care may mean different things to each of us, but the basics are universal. To care for your mental health, good nutrition, sleep and exercise are vital. Try to keep as much of your routines as possible. Resist the urge to escape or calm your fears by obsessively reading virus updates.
So, what’s my survival guide to hotel quarantine?
- Be positive from the start, having the right mindset from the get-go really does make a difference.
- Have a routine.
- Your phone is your lifeline.
- Set up Woolworths, Coles or Uber Eats accounts to supplement the food you are given.
- Stay in touch with family and friends
- Do whatever exercise you can
- Keep it tidy when opening and eating food: whatever gets dropped on the floor stays there to mock you for two weeks
- Be kind to yourself – if you work online, you may not be quite as productive as usual Be kind to the hotel staff, Police and other services looking after you.