Back to Top Skip to main content

'Home sweet home' leaves a sour taste for some quarantine-weary

Family playing board game Army Col. Nathan Keller and his family have enjoyed group activities during the COVID-19 pandemic, but they also schedule solo time. (Courtesy photo Army Col. Nathan Keller)

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Mental Health Care | Psychological Fitness

As physical distancing continues in efforts to avoid the spread of COVID-19, the old saying "there's no place like home" might be sounding bittersweet. Whether people live alone or with others, they may be experiencing fear, anxiety, and frustration over restricted movement.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released guidance about businesses and workplaces reopening. But health care experts say until there's widespread testing and a vaccine for the contagious virus, staying home as much as possible remains the safest course of action. So how can people cope with the continued challenges of being largely confined to home?

"Human beings are social creatures and need to maintain connections through a variety of relationships that offer social support and a sense of security," said Army Col. Nathan Keller, Ph.D., director of the student counseling center at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland.

"When we're unable to do that, we can become frustrated and anxious," said Keller, who's also a clinical social worker. That's why it's important to focus on the positive aspects of your particular living situation, mental health experts say, and use available resources to stay connected to sources that help relieve stress.

"Being confined with others is beneficial because it's a collective experience," said Keller, who lives with his wife and their 17-year-old daughter. "You have the ability to commiserate, and to understand this isn't something that's happening only to you. You can focus on taking care of each other, remind one another of positive memories, and create new shared experiences."

For those who live alone, "Maybe there's a sense of relief or gratitude that you can focus on what you need to do without any disruptions," said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Tarah Lewis, a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner and assistant professor in USU's Graduate School of Nursing.

"And you can devote as much time as you want on personal projects," said Lewis, who lives alone in what she describes as a tiny one-bedroom apartment in downtown Bethesda.

"I don't even have a pet," she said. "And I don't have a car. I'm used to being outside, walking around and going to restaurants and shops, and that kind of thing."

Lewis said people who live alone may be particularly vulnerable to feeling lonely, "maybe even envious of others," she said. "You go on social media and see families going camping, or roommates cooking brunch together."

Reaching out to others helps.

For Lewis, that means online fitness challenges with friends, and playing games such as "two truths and a lie" during after-work video conferences with co-workers.

"That was really fun because I learned things about my colleagues that I never knew," Lewis said. "I actually felt more connected with some of them than I ever did before, even though I went into the office every day" pre-pandemic.

People who live with others need to find time alone, "even in a crowded house," Keller said. "Focusing on yourself when you live with others may sound selfish, but you need that self-care time so you have the patience and energy to support others."

Alone time might mean listening to music, dancing solo, reading, going for a walk or run, or meditating. "Think of those things that you find joy in, and put those in your toolbox," Lewis said.

Whether on your own or with others, Keller and Lewis suggest the following:

  • Stick with a schedule. "Having a routine provides structure and some sort of normalcy," Lewis said. Keller said his family created a plan so they're getting up at the same time, working the same hours, and eating meals together. Their schedule also allots personal and family fun time.  
  • Move your body. Exercise helps you feel better physically and mentally
  • Cut yourself some slack. "There are days where you're not going to feel as productive as you usually are, or you're not going to be the perfect parent or spouse," Keller said. "It's OK to have those moments."

"It's OK to not feel OK," Lewis added. "There's no shame in saying, I'm feeling off, and I need to talk to somebody." The Department of Defense's Psychological Health Center of Excellence offers information on mental health resources including call centers and mobile apps.

  • Keep your eye on the prize. "Eventually, this will pay off, and we're going to come out of it more resilient," Keller said. "We're not going to be stuck like this forever."

Lewis said, "The way I see it is, we're at war. And the boots on the ground are the health care providers and front-line workers. And my role? I'm going to practice physical distancing. I'm going to wash my hands. I'm going to cover my face if I have to be around other people. I'm going to do my part. Those are things that I have control over, and I take great comfort in that."

You also may be interested in...

Army Recruiter volunteers to administer COVID-19 vaccination

Article
3/2/2021
Military health personnel wearing a face mask giving someone the COVID-19 Vaccine

Army Master Sgt. Carolyn Lange has kept up her skills as a licensed practical nurse by administering COVID-19 vaccines on Fort George G. Meade in Maryland

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | COVID-19 Toolkit

COVID-19: DOD vaccinates more than 1 million beneficiaries worldwide

Article
3/1/2021
Military personnel wearing face mask standing in line to receive their COVID-19 Vaccine

As DOD surpasses the administration of 1 million COVID-19 vaccine shots in arms, leaders reflect on how each military treatment facility community made the success possible, despite challenges.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | COVID-19 Toolkit

DOD officials provide COVID-19 response update

Article
3/1/2021
Military personnel wearing a face mask handling prescription refills at a pharmacy

DoD officials present update on COVID-19 response efforts

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | COVID-19 Toolkit | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Cardiovascular providers counter pandemic-induced sedentary lifestyle

Article
2/26/2021
Military health personnel sticking an IV in a patient's arm

COVID-19 fears likely affecting cardiovascular care but not at military medical treatment facilities.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Heart Health | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | February Toolkit | Preventing Heart Disease

Secretary of Defense Video to the Force on COVID-19 Vaccinations

Video
2/24/2021
Image of soldier looking through COVID vaccine information laid out on a table

The Secretary of Defense addressed the entire workforce to encourage informed decision-making with regards to coronavirus-19 vaccination.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | COVID-19 Toolkit | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Trained military personnel ready to help with COVID-19 vaccinations

Article
2/23/2021
Military health personnel wearing a mask giving the COVID-19 vaccine to a man who is also wearing a face mask

Military prepped and ready to help with civilian COVID-19 mass vaccinations

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Immunizations

DOD participates in new COVID-19 antibody combination prevention trial

Article
2/23/2021
Woman gets blood drawn

Five DoD sites across the United States will be part of the STORM CHASER trial, a study to observe the efficacy of a long-lasting antibody product to prevent COVID-19 among people who have been exposed to others suffering from the disease.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

Marines, Sailors with PHIBRON 11, 31st MEU receive COVID-19 vaccine

Article
2/19/2021
Military health personnel giving the COVID-19 Vaccine to military personnel

Vaccination for service members is voluntary, as vaccines are currently authorized for emergency use.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Immunization Healthcare | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

USU cohort study investigates COVID-19 impacts on DOD personnel

Article
2/18/2021
Military health personnel wearing a mask and a face shield holding up a sign that has the number eighteen on it

USU is conducting a study to better understand the symptoms and course of COVID-19 disease and identify risk factors in the military population.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Toolkit | Immunizations | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus

Total Force Fitness Reintroduction

Video
2/17/2021
DHA Seal

The Military Health System is reintroducing Total Force Fitness. The Total Force Fitness concept focuses on a service member’s entire health throughout their career, connecting eight dimensions of fitness to optimize health, performance, and readiness holistically.

Recommended Content:

Physical Fitness | Environmental Fitness | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Nutritional Fitness | Ideological and Spiritual Fitness | Psychological Fitness | Social Fitness | Financial Fitness | Health Tools

COVID-19, Influenza provide twice the challenge to healthcare workers

Article
2/17/2021
Military personnel wearing a face mask while holding hand sanitizer

The ongoing pandemic outbreak has overlapped with the annual Northern Hemisphere influenza season.

Recommended Content:

Influenza Vaccine Availability | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

COVID-19 vaccine does not affect fertility, immunization experts say

Article
2/16/2021
Black and white photo of a couple holding hands

COVID-19 vaccination when pregnant or breastfeeding shows no harm, immunologists weigh in.

Recommended Content:

Women's Health | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

DHA IT helps beneficiaries, providers and workforce through pandemic

Article
2/12/2021
Several military personnel, wearing masks, filling out paperwork. One woman is giving the thumbs up sign

DHA IT Teams Deliver Innovative Solutions During Pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Technology | Coronavirus

Printable VAX Fact Should Children Get the COVID Vaccine?

Publication
2/12/2021

This is a printable version of the VAX Fact graphic

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | COVID-19 Vax Facts

Printable VAX Fact Will TRICARE Cover the COVID Vaccine?

Publication
2/12/2021

This is a printable version of the VAX Fact graphic

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | COVID-19 Vax Facts
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 31

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.