The Three Stages of Quarantine and Crisis Management
The global pandemic has certainly caused havoc and disruption on a scale many of us have never imagined, let alone experienced. We have all had to make difficult decisions and changes that have impacted our social lives, financial stability, and mental health. Over the last several weeks, many people have been able to get into a new routine and adapt to these changes, while others have struggled. There are certain stages that we find ourselves in related to this pandemic; they are outlined here.
Stage 1: Fear
In this stage, we are feeling what many of us felt when the pandemic first hit: fear, confusion, anxiety, and shock. We have a so many questions, and there is little in the way of answers. During this stage we feel irritable and upset as a result of mass uncertainty. Our sleep is interrupted, our appetite is altered, and our panic leads us to participate in reactionary behaviours like purchasing much more food and supplies than we really need. We feel alone, lost, and scared. During this stage, mindfulness and grounding techniques are the most helpful, but can be very difficult to focus on. Establishing a routine to give your life a sense of normalcy and repetition can be a real game changer. Going to bed and waking up at the same time, eating three meals per day, and scheduling “anchors” like daily walks or activities will go a long way in establishing a sense of comfort and familiarity in this stage. Once through this stage, we move on to the next as more information gets passed on.
Stage 2: Learning
The learning stage is characterized by an intake of information and understanding of the pandemic and what is needed to stay healthy and safe. We are feeling inundated with news reports and infographics, so it is important to filter out what makes us feel too low or hopeless. At this stage, we are also recognizing anything that contributes to low mood, and promptly cutting it out, particularly food and media. We are recognizing just how big this issue is, and that we are all in it together, which can provide us with a profound sense of togetherness and belonging. Once we pass through this stage, we find ourselves in the third and final one, Growing.
Stage 3: Growing
This third and final stage is characterized by taking our experiences and examining them for instances of purpose and growth. It is helpful to begin making a list of gratitudes that have sprung from this pandemic as a reminder that it hasn’t entirely been doom and gloom, and that there have been moments of positivity. During this stage it can also be advantageous to create a mindfulness routine; a practice of 10 minutes of conscious breathing every morning to keep you grounded and present in the moment. Routines are crucial to continue this stage. Reaching out to friends and family and offering help if needed can provide purpose as well, something we as humans need.
These three stages are not permanent, and many people will vacillate between them depending on both internal and external factors. The most important part is to understand where you are, communicate that, and give yourself what you need. It can feel very lonely being isolated, but remembering that we are all doing this together for a greater cause can provide that sense of meaning that will keep us all motivated to be here for ourselves and others.
We are currently finding ourselves in a transition period where the next phase of the coronavirus management is being discussed, with certain restrictions being carefully lifted. With this, we will undoubtedly feel a mix of emotions: relief and excitement certainly, but also anxiety and fear now that people will be out and about in the world in some capacity. Leveraging that anxiety into preparedness is the healthiest way to process it; wearing gloves and a facemask when you go out, maintaining physical distancing, and going back into the world at your own pace, where possible are ways to do this. You needn’t feel forced or pressured to resume your old routine right away. Making slow, steady steps forward is the best approach, coupled with the acceptance that things will be different for the foreseeable future even as we progress. Be grateful for the positive changes, and mindful of how important the little things can be, as outlined in the third stage of crisis management.
Rob Baker MA, RCC