Why is the “shelter at home” so difficult for so many? I think it boils down to three major reasons.
First: Many have no hobby. They don’t knit, do crafts, read, or cook as a hobby, so time hangs heavy on their hands when confined.
Second: It is a disruption of their routine and people instinctively become uncomfortable when they have change thrust upon them and particularly when they have no control. Fear is the result.
Third: Most important is that generally, mammals are herd animals.
From bats to bison, and from wolves to whales they want and need social interaction. We have several names for it. Whether we refer to them as packs, prides, pods, clutches, colonies, or herds it is a reflection of the same need. The need for closeness and interaction of a species. Humans are no exception.
Few humans are comfortable being alone for an extended period of time. True, most people have others sharing their household, but after a few days that fails to meet the need for interaction with others. Even confirmed introverts are most comfortable with others around, though there may be no interaction.
So, what is the fix? First, let us admit what is not the fix. Blaming a country, political party, elected official or some other person/entity will fix nothing. In fact, it is counterproductive as it simply enflames one’s anger and dissatisfaction.
Better to take some affirmative action such as, trying your hand at something new like cooking, read to the kids, show them how to write a check and balance a checkbook. Talk to kids and spouse about the future and what they want it to look like for them. Make a list of things you want to do that you kept putting off whether it is travel, find a new career, or make peace with the family member or neighbor that is estranged.
Whether you are parent, spouse, partner or roommate this is the time that you can show /develop your leadership by taking the situation in hand and making it work for you and those around you. The reality is that this too shall pass and the only uncertainty is what the new normal will be and are you better prepared to meet it head-on and prosper in it.
Ken – Great insight into the struggles we face now. I was lucky to learn a long time ago to be happy in my solitude because I learned to like the person I had become and the person I was growing into. But your advice is wonderful and should bring comfort to those who are struggling. Thanks.
Ken, your considerations are all very true.
I just passed on an article to Dennis in which I deal with this topic trying to find some positive aspect that can help to exorcise fear and loneliness.
As you correctly say, not everyone has the material resources, nor often, the internal resources to face this prolonged cloister. Psychological chain reactions are affecting both individuals and entire societies. The behavior and attitude of “fight for yourself without looking at anyone” can prove disastrous. Fear must be mitigated with reason, panic with patience and uncertainty with education. We have the opportunity to learn a lot about the hygienic behaviors to follow to keep us healthy and to limit the spread of countless communicable diseases in our society. We therefore try to face this challenge by joining forces, cultivating a healthy spirit of compassion for others and patience and, above all, we tirelessly strive to seek truth, facts and knowledge instead of relying on conjectures, speculations and catastrophic scenarios.
Personal relationships play a crucial role in maintaining perspective, raising mood and allowing us to distract ourselves from what worries us. Even in conditions of forced isolation, it is important to fight loneliness and keep talking.
Ken, thank you for your article. If we had no place to go not going out would probably not be as bothersome. But the fact we can’t go out (or if we can it is on a limited basis) makes it feel as if our lives or our freedom of choice has been taken away.
Excellent post. At the moment I am the other way, not enough hours in the day. I know it might change as time goes on. Others are already finding it difficult now, it is OK to be lonely in a crowd but not in an empty room.
Thank you for this Ken! Great advice! Maybe it is me, but my cup runneth over even in this quarantine. Boredom has not been part of my vernacular for years, if ever.💖