Stuck in Self-Quarantine? Here’s How to Make the Most of Social Distancing

written by Skye Sherman - Mar 17, 2020
medically reviewed by Dr. Tolulope Olabintan, MD - Aug 3, 2022

Photo Credit: by Skye Sherman
Photo Credit: by Skye Sherman

Self quarantine, social distancing, and WFH (working from home)? At the start of 2020, these terms would have been unfamiliar concepts; now, they’re the hottest topics and primary points of discussion as everyone bands together to try to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Thanks to the wildfire spread of COVID-19, which came out of China and quickly escalated into a worldwide pandemic, nations around the globe are taking needed measures to help curb the numbers of people infected or dying.

Many people are frustrated by the need to stay home when they don’t feel sick or unwell, or if they feel their immune system is strong enough to get them through the disease with minimal impact.

So why is social distancing so important, even before it seems necessary? Because COVID-19 is spreading rapidly, and you won’t even know that you’re infected until you’ve already had a chance to infect others. Taking steps that seem dramatic or unnecessary at the time is the only way to proactively prevent things from getting worse. This isn’t your typical flu or cold season, which arrives and passes with little fanfare.

This is why practicing extreme measures of social distancing is so important to the cause, even if you have no symptoms.

It is likely that in the coming days, more cities and states will see even more drastic measures come into play: in some US states, beaches, bars, and restaurants are closed to the public. Restaurants are not able to offer dine-in service but rather must fulfill to-go orders only, if they are open at all. We may soon see a temporary suspension of all commercial and rail travel, and San Francisco residents were recently asked to “shelter in place.”

In his most recent press conference, President Trump advised all Americans to avoid gatherings of 10 or more and predicted that this may last through July or August, or possibly even longer. This virus, which affects the respiratory system, is being taken seriously in the US after seeing what worked (and didn’t work) during the outbreaks in China, Italy, South Korea, and Spain.

Hopefully, we’ll also see drive-through coronavirus testing stations pop up in abundance. But in the meantime, the most helpful thing each of us can do as a society is to self-quarantine if at all possible. First responders and healthcare workers are needed at the front lines, so it’s up to the rest of us to help stem the spread and protect them (and those around us) so that we don’t overburden the hospital system with a larger caseload than they can handle at any given time.

In this article, we’ll provide helpful information that you can use as you adjust to your new normal. Do your part by staying home--you can make your self-quarantine a healthy and constructive time.

How to be productive while you work from home

Americans around the nation are struggling to accommodate a new routine of working from home. Parents have it especially hard, as schools have undergone statewide closures in many US states, and thus the kids are at home now, too. So how can you balance all of these factors and still be as productive as you would be, undisturbed at your office?

Clear your workspace, eliminate distractions as much as possible, and make a daily to-do list containing the high-priority items that must get done each day. Don’t get up from your seat or do anything else until these items are done. Then you can move on to items further down your to-do list that are lower in priority.

You may not be used to working from a home office. Clear your desk of anything that does not pertain to your daily workload so that you’re not tempted to divide your time and attention with other things. There will be time to do the laundry, clean the dishes, and cook dinner--but don’t start to tackle these tasks until your must-complete items are accomplished.

Establish a routine with “triggers” that signal to you that it’s time to begin working. Some examples include brewing a cup of coffee, applying an invigorating essential oil blend, or playing a “transition” playlist that helps get your mind focused on work.

Forbes also recommends, “Set water-tight physical boundaries around your designated work space that is off-limits for housemates. Treat it as if it’s five miles across town, and ask house members to consider it as such … If possible, only go to your designated space when you need to work. Stick to a regular schedule, and keep your work space at arm’s-length after hours. Try to maintain the same hours you log in at the office so you don’t get swallowed up by the workload.”

It’s also a good idea to avoid cabin fever by getting outside as much as possible (and within reason considering personal safety and the safety of others). For example, spend time gardening, walking around the block (keeping your distance from others), relaxing on your balcony, and just generally soaking up the sunshine when you can.

Productive and constructive activities during social isolation

Social isolation doesn’t have to drag you down and feel like a burden. Make the most of this time by keeping yourself healthy, connected, and productive.

Can’t go to the gym? Take online fitness classes to keep up with your workout routine. Many gyms and fitness centers are expected to close if they have not already; even SoulCycle closed all of its studios for the time being. But letting your physical health and fitness slide at a time like this will only make you more unhappy and susceptible to sickness, as exercising actually boosts your immune system and your mood.

Instead, turn to online fitness classes on YouTube or another video platform, and try out something new like yoga or Pilates, too. If it’s safe and permitted, you can go outside for a walk, run, or bike ride, but ensure to keep a safe distance away from anyone you encounter. At-home workout solutions like Peloton, Mirror, and other equipment may also be a worthy investment.

Feeling lonely and cut off socially? You’re not alone! FaceTime your family and friends on a daily basis. You may not be able to hang out and visit them right now, as much as you want to. But put the health and safety of everyone above all else by keeping within the walls of your home. Instead of planning get-togethers, plan group FaceTime calls where you reconnect with the ones you love while you wait out the need for social distancing.

What would productivity look like to you during this time of self-quarantine? Take a few minutes to envision the best-case scenario and then write down your goals. You may surprise yourself by the end of this pandemic, having accomplished and achieved far more than you expected to during the next several weeks or months.

Photo Credit: by Skye Sherman
Photo Credit: by Skye Sherman

What can you do instead of your normal routine during self-quarantine?

Looking for activities to fill your time and enrich your life during enforced quarantine or social distancing? Fortunately, you have a lot of desirable options. Staying home doesn’t have to be a bummer. Instead, take advantage of the opportunity to rest, recharge, get ahead, and do what you can to improve your own life and the world around you.

An article published in USA Today on March 16, 2020, written by 15 national health care leaders, reads:

“You can still take walks outside, shop for essentials and enjoy your online community of friends.

Stay connected in other ways. Check in on your loved ones and friends frequently.

Keep informed about what is happening in your neighborhood.

Give to people in need in your community: supplies for food pantries, financial donations, personal hygiene items.

Buy online gift certificates to your favorite local stores and restaurants — and use them when this is over.

Be a neat freak. Keep everything as clean as possible.

Wash your hands. Early, often, thoroughly.

If you’re going to spread anything, spread help, compassion and humor.

Above all, do not panic. Remember: Like all outbreaks, this too will eventually end.

If you’ve been infected and recovered already, you are highly likely to be immune. If so, you can serve your community in public spaces where others can’t.”

As the world endures this time of trial and tribulation, take advantage of the opportunity to define what kind of person you want to be. We have not yet seen the peak of the pandemic but we can act today to make a difference and lower the impact as much as it is within our power. You can read more at

Other ideas you can do while in self-quarantine at home:

* Complete a puzzle or play a board game

* Bake or cook healthy items from scratch; you can freeze half for later

* Deep-clean your house and empty out closets, cabinets, your fridge, and junk drawers

* Re-pot your house plans

* Stretch daily

* Learn a new skill on YouTube, whether artistic, musical, or physical

* Update your resume and LinkedIn profile

* Read a book

* Become your own barista and make a fancy cup of coffee

* Watch a documentary or an educational television series

* Take an online course: learn Photoshop, web design, email marketing, or another skill

* Start a new healthy habit, like drinking green tea or meditating

* Keep a journal: this pandemic will go down in history, and your descendants will find your firsthand account of this period fascinating!

* Do a little self-pampering: apply a hair mask and a face mask while you relax in the bath

* Handwrite a letter to someone you love and drop it in the mail

* Wash and wax your car

* Do a digital cleanse: empty your inbox, organize the photos on your laptop and phone, and clear your desktop

* Work toward your weight loss goals

* FaceTime your friends and family if you cannot spend time with them in person - and take the time to remind your grandparents how much you love and appreciate them

* Finally accomplish that task you’ve been putting off for months or years - let self-quarantine be a time to feel better, not worse, when it’s over.

Need more ideas? Check out USA Today’s list of 100 things to do while stuck inside due to a pandemic.



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While the above article is based on thorough research, we do not claim to offer a substitute for medical advice from a qualified healthcare provider. The article was written for information and educational purposes only. We aim to provide helpful information to our readers, but cannot provide a treatment, diagnosis, or consultation of any sort, and we are in no way indicating that any particular drug is safe or appropriate for you and your individual needs. To receive professional medical attention, you must see a doctor.