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Looking after yourself while you’re self-quarantining

Thursday 19 March 2020

A woman sits on her couch and looks out the window.
Self-quarantine can quickly feel boring, these tips can help you stay well during your time at home.

This article was written during the Queensland response to the COVID-19 pandemic and reflects the information available at the date of publication. Please check the Australian Department of Health COVID-19 webpage for updated information and current health advice regarding COVID-19 and vaccinations in Queensland.

If you’ve been in contact with someone who has COVID-19, you’ve returned from overseas travel or you've returned to Queenslander from a COVID-19 hotspot within Australia, you will have been asked to quarantine at home.

The reason we’re asking you to quarantine is so if you are carrying the virus – and you could have it without showing symptoms yet – you don’t pass it on to anyone else. Quarantining properly will help you prevent getting your friends, family and co-workers sick, as well as all the other people you usually come into contact with everyday that you don’t know.

We all have the responsibility to try to slow the spread of COVID-19. We really appreciate you doing your bit by quarantining. We also appreciate that quarantining can be pretty tough.

These are our tips for looking after yourself while you’re in quarantine. If you want to know more about how to quarantine properly, we have information on the Queensland Government website.

Wait, what’s the difference between quarantine and isolation?

Good question! While both will limit your movements, quarantine is what we ask well people to do just in case they’re carrying the virus. People who are actually sick with COVID-19 will be asked to isolate – depending on how unwell they are, this may be done at home or in a healthcare facility.

Looking after your mental and physical health while quarantining

At first, getting two weeks off work or school might have seemed like a fun holiday, especially if you're doing your quarantine in a hotel. But those who have had to stay at home due to illness in the past will know that being forced to stay inside and away from others for more than a day or two can quickly become boring and even anxiety-inducing.

Keeping mentally and physically well will help quarantine feel more pleasant. And if you do happen to get sick, it may help if you’ve been as well as possible beforehand.

Get some physical activity

Getting your body moving can improve how you feel physically and mentally. You’ve been asked to stay inside your own home boundaries, which means you might not be able to do some of the types of exercise you would normally enjoy, but there are lots of ways to keep moving while inside the house or backyard.

We suggest:

  • Trying some of the workout routines Healthier. Happier. have put together – No Running Cardio is a great way to get your heart pumping while staying on one spot.
  • For something a little more chill, you could do a yoga routine each day. There are plenty of free classes on YouTube, so you can choose something that suits your abilities.
  • If you’re a regular in the weights room, you might be missing your time at the gym. But you don’t have to visit the gym to be able to pump it up – there are lots of common household items you can use as hand weights. Grab some cans of food for bicep curls, or a bag of flour to add weight to your squats.

A man does push ups in his living room.

Get your nutrients

When your normal routines have changed, it can be easy to start eating differently, too. It’s important to keep eating a well-balanced diet while you quarantine, because getting all your normal daily nutrients will keep you feeling well.

If you’ve stocked up on some longer-lasting foods, like pasta or rice, make sure you still add some fruits or vegetables, and protein to each meal. Remember that frozen or canned fruits and veggies are a great option if you’re not able to access fresh food like you normally would.

If you’re able to use your kitchen while you quarantine (some people who share houses with others will be required to not share common rooms such as kitchens), why not spend some of your time trying out new recipes? You can find easy, healthy recipes for all types of meals on Healthier. Happier.

Drink plenty of water

Are you in the habit of drinking enough water every day? Dehydration doesn’t make anyone feel good, so make sure you’re getting 6-8 glasses of water each day. This will be a great habit to take with you once your quarantine period has ended.

Get creative or learn something new

Keeping your mind engaged is good for your mental wellbeing and a great way to spend time, something you might find you now have a lot of!

You could start a creative project or get back into an old hobby, like drawing, painting, knitting, writing or wood working. Or you could use this time to learn a new skill – there are lots of free apps to help you learn a new language and online tutorials for everything from learning how to do a handstand (make sure you’ve got some room for this one), to mastering photography. Podcasts are a great, free way to engage in learning about new topics – our podcast My Amazing Body has 13 episodes that explore different parts of the human body and how they work.

Get some rest and relaxation

While binging on TV for the whole day will get old quickly, you should still take time every day to switch off and relax. Turn off the news and stay away from other virus alerts for an hour, and get cosy with a good book, movie, TV show or whatever entertainment takes your fancy.

This could also be a great time to learn some relaxation or meditation techniques. Smiling Mind has a free app to help you meditate, while Black Dog Institute has factsheets with mindfulness and relaxation activities.

Get plenty of sleep

Keeping a routine of going to bed and getting up at the same time will help you sleep better and feel rested during the day. If you’re having trouble nodding off, follow our 10 steps to better sleep.

Use medications as normal

It’s really important that even though your day-to-day routine might have changed a lot, you stick to your routine when it comes to taking prescribed medicines. If you find that less structure in your day means you’re forgetting to take your medications, set alarms to help remind you.

Connect with others

Connection with community can be a huge boost for our mental wellbeing. Just because you’re quarantining, doesn’t mean you have to be completely cut off from everyone. Luckily, these days we have phones and the internet to allow us to speak with our communities even if we can’t meet face-to-face.

Some fun ways you can connect with the outside world are:

  • If you know others who are quarantining, start an over-the-phone movie or book club.
  • Bust out some pen and paper and write some old-school letters to people you haven’t seen in awhile.
  • Video calls rather than texting or talking means you can talk to more than one person at a time and see everyone’s faces.

An older woman holds a birthday cake up to a laptop for a video chat.

Manage anxiety

It’s normal to feel some stress or anxiety when something out of the ordinary happens, and this situation is pretty unusual. There are lots of ways quarantine could make you feel – worried about your health or your family and friends, frustrated or antsy at being stuck in one place, or concerned about the things you’re missing out on, just to name a few. It’s important to know that it’s okay and normal to feel any emotions you’re having. The tips above will all help you look after your mental wellbeing while you’re in quarantine, and our guide to looking after your mental wellbeing during a crisis has steps you can take to support your mental health.

If you’ve taken steps to support better mental wellbeing but are still feeling stressed, overwhelmed, worried, or just not like your normal self, it’s important to tell someone. This might be someone close to you like a family member, friend or colleague. You can also talk to mental health professional on 1300 MH CALL (1300 642 255) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or visit the Federal Government resource, Head to Health: COVID-19 Support.

Remember that while this situation is unusual, in Queensland, we’re in a good position to make the effects as minimal as possible. Our health system is prepared and our services are equipped to take care of the population.

More information about COVID-19

Queensland Government: Novel coronavirus (COVID-19)

Australian Federal Government: Coronavirus (COVID-19)

World Health Organization: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Coronavirus (COVID-19) – everything you need to know, in language you can understand

Head to Health: COVID-19 Support

Last updated: 19 March 2020