I read a great piece on self-care, from someone who has been housebound for a while and has experience. Please forgive the pastebomb, but the link to the thread isn’t conveniently readable:
Housebound advice from a long-term housebound person , boosts ok
I’m going to post a long thread on how to cope better if you’re stuck indoors at the moment. I’ve been housebound by disability for a long while now, and sporadically housebound due to depression and agoraphobia before that. These are things that have improved how I deal with that. This is not gonna make houseboundness painless for you but it might help you cope. Disabled comrades are welcome to share their own advice to this thread.
Firstly, most importantly : you are being asked to simulate the lifestyle of a severely depressed person and because of that you are going to start experiencing symptoms of depression. It’s helpful to recognise when you’re having episodes of this – i.e. consciously think “ah shit why am I feeling so terrible right now? –> it’s because I’m having depression -> time to look after myself”.
If you have or have had depression, you might have coping mechanisms in place to deal with this. If this is new to you, there’s a lot of good advice floating around online for dealing with depression. It’s important to notice when this is happening to you, because being conscious of it is a first step in dispelling it.
Next: time is going to get weird . Days are going to blend into each other. Your body-clock is going to be deprived of a lot of the physiological cues you get from going outside and having a routine. You’re going to need to artificially supplement or recreate the cues you would normally get, and also increase your exposure to any outside cues available.
So there’s three important ways to deal with this that I’m going to elaborate on in the next few posts:
- Reinforce your day-night cycle
- Set yourself a permissive routine and stick to it
- Keep your places separate.
These all ultimately aim to do variations on the same thing: compartmentalise your behaviours into different contexts to prevent everything from blurring into one interminable slog.
Reinforce your day-night cycle.
Your body responds to sunlight, and uses it to calibrate when it thinks day / night is. If you’re stuck indoors you’re going to get less of this effect, even if you have sunlight coming in. You’re going to have to set yourself an artificial day-night cycle. One of the worst things for depression is to feel like one day bleeds into the next with restless sleep in between – so the goal is to make daytime feel as different from nighttime as possible.
- In the morning, as soon as you’re up, open all the curtains and leave them open all day. Get as much sunlight in as possible.
- In the evening, put the lights on low. No ceiling lights, just lamps or whatever you have around. This is your lead-in to night time.
- At night, close all the curtains, have the lights as low as possible. If it’s dark outside, make it dark inside.
If it’s safe to do so where you live, have your windows open a little 24/7. This will expose you to more cues like air temperature and outdoor noise, and will keep your air circulating.
Take vitamin D. It’ll disappear quickly from your system as soon as you stop getting direct outdoor sunlight, and you’ll feel like shit. You can safely double the dose you get in the normal tablets from the supermarket.
Separate your activities by time of day. Do stuff that wakes you up in the morning, and stuff that calms you down in the evening. This sounds basic, but you have to do the basic stuff as deliberately as you can. Your body and mind respond to these basic cues and the goal is to consciously reinforce these cues. You want your mornings and evenings to feel as different as possible, so that you can feel like you’re opening up for the day every morning and closing things up at night.
Set yourself a permissive routine :
Instead of setting a strict routine like “do X at 12pm”, set yourself times that you do things after. This is to stop yourself deciding to just eat dinner whenever because you’re bored, or to crawl into bed because you’re bored. Food and bed are Powerful Forces when you’re stuck indoors – be strict with yourself about them.
So for example don’t eat lunch until (eg) after 12, even if you’re hungry before then, don’t go to bed before (eg) 10pm, even if you’re tired. You’ll sleep better.
The exception to this is getting up in the morning. Set yourself a time before which you’re going to wake up, and an additional time before which you’re going to get out of bed.
Even if you feel like you’ve had an unsatisfying sleep, get up. You’ll make the feeling worse by staying in bed. Let it go, start the day in spite of it. You’ll have some bad sleeps while you’re living this way.
Mealtimes and bedtime are the main time landmarks in your housebound day. Stick to them even if you don’t feel like it. Think about when you’re on a long-haul flight and time is getting fucky and the attendants bring you meals at set times because they know better than you. You eat the meals when you’re given them.
If you have other daily practices such as praying or exercising, you likely already have a set time for these that you don’t need to adjust. These are other good landmarks to keep track of your day.
Keep your places separate .
Keep things in their room. Don’t move stuff from room to room. This helps:
- To make your space feel as big as possible.
- To simulate having to go to places to do things.
- To stop you from just bringing everything back to bed and stewing there.
For example I keep my laptop charger plugged in in the living room, and it doesn’t move from there, so I can only use my computer from the sofa (or if i take it to bed i can only use it until the battery runs out). I have a chair I read in, I have a table I eat at, I have a desk I do creative stuff at. None of this stuff moves anywhere else, I have to go to it. If you work from home, have a dedicated spot where you work. If you exercise, have a place for that.
This is mentally similar to your day-night cycle thing – you don’t want everything to blend into each other.
Finally: expect this to hurt . Being shut-in like this is not a good lifestyle for a human being, and the coping strategies are there to soften the worse parts of it. There is no sustainable long-term way to do this.