Q: I work in a small machine shop customizing field equipment for the farms around here and to some extent for farms elsewhere in the province. Six of us, including our owner/manager, run the shop.
The other day one of my fellow workers tested positive for the coronavirus. You know what that means. All the rest of us had to sign off for the day and quarantine ourselves for at least two weeks. The quarantine could last longer if any of us also test positive for the virus.
In many ways I was ready for this. My fridge is loaded with fresh veggies and my pantry is stacked enough with dry goods to last out any turn of events with the virus.
But that is only part of it. What I wasn’t ready for was the long and depressing hours of loneliness that come with a quarantine. We have only been out for a week but I am already edgy and anxious for want of a few moments of fellowship. I’m tired from sleepless nights and I’m bored throughout most of the day. I don’t know how I am going to make it through another week.
If you have some thoughts about this whole thing I would love to hear them. My guess is that a lot of other people are interested as well. What do you think?
A: I am not sure that you are talking about loneliness in the same way that we often think about it.
Mostly, people think of loneliness as some kind of a powerful feeling harbouring their bad memories, struggles with intimacy and convictions of personal failure.
What you are experiencing with your quarantine is different. It is a sense of personal loss. You have lost your daily routines, you are missing the companionship you picked up from the other guys in the shop and, perhaps worst of all, you have lost that sense of purpose you had when you were assembling a piece of machinery that you knew was about to make a difference somewhere on the farm.
It will not always be easy, but you can ease your way out of this thing.
Your first stop is with your computer. Social networking through various chat lines may not be quite the same as the conversations you had with the guys at work, but you can at least make some contact with the world on the other side of your front door.
I understand that some people have even put together an app for their computers, called Quarantine Chat, that is specifically designed to help people like you see their way through the coronavirus crisis. It is. I am not too sure how it works, but I think that it connects you with quarantined people who are in similar situations to your own. It gives all of you something about which we can chat.
Your next stop is your alarm clock. I know that you are sorely tempted to sleep in, to disregard any sense of structure for your day, and to hope that you can make up for the restlessness challenging you in the middle of the night. Don’t do it. Your structure is essential to your well-being. The more you can maintain your routines for eating, sleeping and watching TV, the better you will feel.
Your routines are going to leave you with a ton of time. Don’t waste it. You need to be active. I have no idea what you might have for personal interests, but I do know that you now have the opportunity to pursue them more than you have in the past. Activities include painting, drawing, playing music, exercising, chipping together projects in your workshop, reading, writing or just about anything else that does not involve watching television. Any of it can be interesting and self-fulfilling.
The more organized you are, the more active you will be, the more in touch with the world you will be and the quicker you will make it through this quarantine experience with a positive appreciation of who you are as a person. In fact, you are going to wonder where all the time went.