Why You Shouldn't Feel Guilty for Enjoying Quarantine, According to an Expert
It's fair to say our world has never seen such commotion collectively as it has in the last two months.
The COVID-19 pandemic has killed at least 50,000 people (as of this April 24, 2020 publish date), and we don't even know where to begin with how many jobs have been affected along the way. Even if you're fortunate enough not to know anyone directly impacted by the absolute chaos, everyone is experiencing the effects in one way or another. With everything closed and all of us being forced to stay inside pretty much 24/7, it's bound to take its toll, even if all are safe.
While it's only natural that many people are going stir-crazy or aggressively missing their friends and loved ones, others are using social distancing as a time to thrive. Whether it's launching a small business, becoming a TikTok guru, working out like crazy or simply self-reflecting and working on one's self, there are plenty of people out there who see this WFH situation as a gift—and while they feel for everyone affected by this horrifying time, they still manage to stay productive amidst it all.
Even so, it's hard not to feel a sense of guilt if you're thriving while other people are losing their jobs, or even lives. That's why we reached out to Los Angeles-based clinical hypnotherapist Carrie Freeman, who settled some of our emotional fears and reminded us that it's okay to do your best, even when others can't. Carrie employs talk therapy, self-soothing tools and hypnosis (which utilizes the power of the subconscious mind) to help clients self-regulate and maintain balance.
Keep reading for everything she had to say.
Sweety High: While quarantine is certainly difficult for some, it's been less of a struggle for others. What types of people thrive in this kind of situation?
Carrie Freeman: We all know people who are highly social and outgoing. Conversely, we all have encountered the more quiet, self-reliant personality that is very selective about social activities. What I've noticed is that those personalities who normally seek activities, events and other people are having a much harder time with the quarantine. These types (and all personality "types" operate on a continuum) are accustomed to being stimulated by outer events and people, making alone time very foreign and especially frustrating.
Without knowing it, we use social media and activities to receive the reward chemical, dopamine. It's a feel-good hormone. All of a sudden, the extrovert has lost their source of dopamine, while the quieter "homebody" types, who are often artists, writers or readers, get their dopamine from painting or finishing a short story. For them, the quarantine does not feel as though it's terribly different than their normal life.
SH: For those who are thriving during (and quite possibly even enjoying) quarantine, should they feel guilty about it? Why or why not?
CF: No! Although guilt appears to be part of the human condition, it's not productive. If one is struggling with survivor's guilt, they should always look to what can be learned from any given challenge, instead of embracing guilt. To make it mean anything, quarantine must be turned into one of learning: patience, flexibility, compassion, letting go, heightened creativity, self-acceptance, introspection, study and quantum growth.
If the quarantine is proving something special to your life, then simply accept it as learning, healing and creativity. This path, which works for you, doesn't mean you don't feel deeply for the suffering of others. The key is to fully accept your sense of freedom right now, but always remain close to empathy.
I've been told by a few friends and clients that they are enjoying the forced quiet and simplicity. In everyday life, and in the media, we're not really encouraged to just be. Taking a nap or knitting is not necessarily valued. Our global tragedy is creating a forced situation, which is ironic, since we live in a society that encourages doing stuff. COVID-19 is deleting that programming. Enforced being-ness is foreign to most. P.S. Shakespeare wrote King Lear during an epidemic.
SH: For someone enjoying the experience, what's considered appropriate to post on social media, and what is inappropriate (or would seem like rubbing it in)?
CF: Here's where I'll talk a little bit about common sense. Common sense is very useful but undervalued. It's a practical way to evaluate any given situation. If you were my client, I'd lean you toward not being too frank about "thriving" during the quarantine too much. One must be cautious because you just don't know what's going on in someone's life.
You could choose to share with others how you're using this time of sheltering. That being said, I saw a group of young people stuck in a house, making some fun videos. It was clear that they were making the most of too much time, and cabin fever. If you're making the most of this time and following the health rules, use your own common sense and judgment. Due to the size of the pandemic, all of us will know someone who has become sick, or was sick. We could become get sick with symptoms, or worse. It's very serious.
SH: Provided you have your health and other resources, what are ways to make quarantine more enjoyable?
CF: Look for ways to make a positive impact: Get a pen pal; learn a new language; do mindful meditation every day; paint a room; throw out papers for two days; create new playlists, because music heals; dance; sing; watch happy movies; take up a course of study; look for online classes; stretch, exercise, ride your bike. Go on YouTube and look at tutorials on breathing exercises for stress; learn to cook four great dishes; watch Dr. Joe Dispenza, Mel Robbins, Eckhart Tolle; read two books: one fiction and one non-fiction, or do a book club with one friend, and Zoom to discuss the book.
Journal about what this feels like—maybe it will turn into an article, or a book. You may even consider doing a vlog about your journey. Come out of this time (however long), having gained a new skill and a new point of view about gratitude. Adopt a mantra for every morning you wake up. I use: Be here now.
SH: Is there anything else you'd like to add about your practice or about mental health and productivity amid quarantine?
CF: Generally, everyone should pay attention to their sense of well-being, and if you're still feeling "off" for two to three weeks, checking in with some sort of therapy is highly recommended. It's an investment in yourself.
One of the valuable things about using hypnotherapy is that the practice of talk therapy, coupled with hypnosis brings about faster benefits. Recently, I've been doing phone and Zoom sessions that work beautifully. The sessions are 75-minutes long. During the final 20 minutes, I record a hypnotic induction specifically for the client. I then download the recording and email it to the client as an audio file for their listening.
For more information, visit Carrie's website, or give her a call: 818-753-3356.
Need more expert advice amid the pandemic? Click HERE for a doctor's DOs and DON'Ts to follow during this time.