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Advice on How to Avoid Cabin Fever During Self-Isolation

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Coronavirus Self-Isolation: Advice on How to Avoid Cabin Fever
Antoniodiaz/Shutterstock

by Martin LaMonica for The Conversation

People who suspect they may have come into contact with the coronavirus are being advised to self-isolate (stay at home) for 14 days. For some people, the idea of self-isolation may seem like a dream come true.

For others, the idea of being cut off from the outside world, alone or with only a few close family members, will fill them with dread – ask any parent who has had to entertain two small children at home on a wet afternoon.

When people are stuck indoors for long periods of time, they can report getting “cabin fever” or feel like they are going “stir crazy”.

Observations from actual or simulated space missions or people living in confined spaces, such as those spending a winter on polar stations, also suggest that some people may find self-isolating more difficult than others. However, there are some simple measures that you can take to help you adapt.

1. Boost your immune system

Research on the effects of loneliness suggest that when people lack social connections they are more likely to suffer from physical health problems. For example, older adults who can’t leave their homes due to impaired mobility are more susceptible to illness, such as heart disease. And studies have found that polar research crews can suffer from reductions in their immune system.

The good news is that the period of self-isolation needed for coronavirus should not result in any marked changes in how your immune system works. But during self-isolation it may be a good idea to try to improve your immune response. Exercise and getting enough vitamins can help here (although contrary to some internet sources, they’re not a cure). Psychologists also believe that listening to upbeat music or watching a movie can also boost your immune function.

2. Structure your day

For some people, self-isolation might still lead to some mild mental health issues. We know from people who have spent a winter in a polar research station that longer-term isolation and confinement is linked to psychological problems. One study found that in crews over-wintering, over 60% reported feeling depressed or anxious; and nearly 50% felt more irritable and had problems with memory, sleeping and concentrating.

Obviously, coronavirus self-isolation won’t be as extreme or as long as for those exposed to an Arctic winter and so the impact on mental wellbeing is likely to be much less extreme. But some people who are self-isolating may have difficulties with sleep (insomnia), feelings of restlessness or sadness, or start to feel demotivated.

To combat these problems, it is important to maintain a structure to your day. Having a set schedule for meal times and a set bedtime can help you to stay on track. Planning out activities and setting goals can also help keep you motivated and stop you feeling down.

Keep in touch. Rawpixel/Shutterstock

3. Maintain social contact

An obvious reason why isolated people may feel low or anxious is that they can’t draw on the support of friends and families to help them deal with the difficult situation and share their worries and concerns. Studies also suggest that without such social support, people may turn to less positive coping strategies, such as [drinking more alcohol].

So during self-isolation you should stay in contact with your social network. This can be as simple as phoning a friend for a chat, sending someone an email or joining in with a discussion via social media. Reaching out to a friend has been shown to be better for your mental health than having a glass or two of wine in a bid to block out your worries.

4. Avoid conflict

In some cases, people will be self-isolating with a small group of people, whether family or friends. This may limit loneliness, but could present other challenges, namely the possibility for arguments. Even those we love dearly can get on our nerves when we’re stuck inside with them for long enough.

Cosmonaut Valentine Lebedev, who spent 211 days on board the space station Mir, reported that around 30% of his time in space was spent dealing with crew conflicts. Increases in group tensions have also been seen in polar research stations. So it’s a good idea to try to reduce interpersonal conflicts.

Research looking at reducing conflict during space missions has suggested that exercise can counteract the negative effects of confinement. More generally, 20 minutes of exercise a day can also help lift your mood via the release of endorphins, as well as reducing feelings of tension. So it may be time to dust off that exercise DVD or download a new exercise app.

Another strategy to reduce conflict is to have some time away from each other. If you start to feel that a situation is likely to escalate, it is a good idea to take at least a 15-minute timeout. Sit in separate rooms and let everyone calm down. Normally after 15 minutes, the reason for the argument does not seem as important.

Finally, it is important to remember that if you feel self-isolation is having a very negative impact on your mental health, you should seek professional advice.


The Conversation publishes knowledge-based journalism that is responsible, ethical and supported by evidence from academics and researchers in order to inform public debate with facts, clarity and insight into society’s biggest problems.

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Health

County Hospitals Receive 300 iPads for Patients to See Family

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LOS ANGELES – 300 iPads have been donated to Los Angeles County hospitals to facilitate patient-family communication during the COVID-19 pandemic. The gift is through a partnership with the Annenberg Foundation, Brilliant Corners, and the Los Angeles County Center for Strategic Partnerships.

“The engagement of loved ones during hospitalization has been shown to improve clinical outcomes,” said DHS Director, Dr. Christina Ghaly. “Clinical staff identified a role for virtual visiting through technology in order to facilitate this family involvement. The generous donations by the Annenberg Foundation and MobileDemand will help support this critical element of our patients’ care.” 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, patient visitation by family and loved ones is limited at facilities in order to prevent exposure and the spread of disease. While there are some exceptions, such as the birth of a child or death of a patient, visitation is not permitted for the vast majority of patients and not allowed at all for COVID-19 patients. 

The donation provides 300 iPads to ensure patients and their families are able to connect, despite restrictions in access to the hospital. A second donation, by MobileDemand, provides rugged, protective healthcare iPad cases to protect against damage and loss. The rugged case also has an adjustable easel attached, providing effortless viewing for patients who are too weak to hold a tablet. Additionally, it frees health care staff from having to hold the device for patients.

“This is a wonderful example of how philanthropic organizations, nonprofits, government, and businesses can collaborate and meet an immediate need in our community,” said Wallis Annenberg, Chairman, President and CEO of the Annenberg Foundation. “Being able to offer an opportunity for comfort and connection to those suffering and to alleviate some of the stress from our frontline caregivers is of utmost importance.”

While social distancing has been successful in flattening the curve of the COVID-19 surge in Los Angeles County, it is anticipated that it will continue for several months. With this gift, physicians and nurses will be able to place an iPad in the room of COVID and other critically-ill patients for the duration of the admission and reduce potential exposure and use of personal protective equipment going in and out of the room. Having a stationary iPad helps relieve medical staff who would otherwise have to hold the phone for a patient or search for the person’s personal phone. It also will allow patients who do not have a personal mobile device to communicate and “visit” with their family.

The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (DHS) is the second largest municipal health system in the nation. Through its integrated system of 26 health centers and four hospitals – LAC+USC Medical Center, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Olive View-UCLA Medical Center, and Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center – and expanded network of community partner clinics, DHS annually provides direct care for 600,000 unique patients, employs over 22,000 staff, and has an annual budget of over $6 billion.

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Processions to Cedars Will Salute Healthcare Workers on National Nurses Day

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The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is putting a strain on essential workers such as first responders and healthcare workers who are on the frontlines in the effort to care for coronavirus patients so the City of West Hollywood is setting out to recognize them in a special way on May 6.

National Nurses Day is a day of recognition to celebrate and honor the contributions that nurses have made and continue to make in our communities and throughout the nation. National Nurses Day is celebrated annually on May 6, which marks the beginning of National Nurses Week, a week-long celebration to raise awareness of the value of nursing and educate the public on the role nurses play in meeting the healthcare needs of Americans. National Nurses Week concludes on May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, or as she was more commonly known, “The Lady of the Lamp” and founder of modern nursing.

The West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is coordinating two motorcades to honor healthcare workers on Wednesday, May 6, 2020, which is nationally recognized as National Nurses Day. The processions will begin at 9:45 a.m. and at 7:15 p.m. on Santa Monica Boulevard at La Cienega Boulevard and the motorcades will head west and then travel southbound on N. San Vicente Boulevard passing multiple medical center locations in West Hollywood en route to a destination outside the emergency room entrance of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center on Gracie Allen Drive. First responders will briefly stop, exit their vehicles and applaud healthcare workers while wearing face coverings and practicing appropriate social distancing.

“Our nurses and healthcare workers are nothing short of heroes,” said City of West Hollywood Mayor Pro Tempore Lindsey P. Horvath. “The coronavirus pandemic has reminded us just how critical their work is to our everyday health and safety. This National Nurses Day means so much more to all of us — the City of West Hollywood and our LA County Sheriff’s West Hollywood Station and LA County Fire Stations; the City of Beverly Hills and Beverly Hills Police and Fire; the City of Los Angeles and LAPD and LAFD; the California Highway Patrol, and more — and we will honor these heroes in a special way for the care that they provide, which often goes unseen and unrecognized, in carrying us through this crisis.”

“As the worldwide response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues, the critical importance of nurses in our society has been brought sharply into focus,” said City of West Hollywood Councilmember John Heilman. “More often than not, when a coronavirus patient ends up in a hospital, it is the nurses at the frontlines who are responsible for their care and treatment, putting themselves at risk in the process. We can’t say ‘thank you’ strongly enough.”

The City of West Hollywood encourages residents and community members to participate during this day of celebration while still adhering to LA County Safer At Home Orders and social distancing requirements. Suggested forms of participation include amplifying posts on social media channels, making yard or window signs and banners, participating in a coordinated daily applause or shout out for nurses and healthcare workers, and donating to organizations that are addressing the emerging needs of nurses and healthcare workers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) health pandemic.

According to the American Nursing Association, nursing is the nation’s largest healthcare profession, with more than four million registered nurses in the United States. Registered nurses comprise one of the largest segments of the U.S. workforce and are the primary providers of hospital patient care, delivering most of the nation’s long-term care. In nursing, where workers are on the front lines of patient interactions, women make up more than 85 percent of the workforce. This year, with the onset of coronavirus, nurses have stepped up and shown the incredible impact they have on our healthcare system. It is more important than ever that we recognize National Nurses Day and celebrate the significance of nurses every day.

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Texas & California Wet Markets Show Full Extent of Vile Conditions

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Texas & California Wet Markets Show Full Extent of Vile Conditions

(TMZ) — It’s becoming more clear by the day that wet markets are NOT just a China problem — it’s an American problem too … just take a look at these latest clips from Texas and California.

TMZ has gotten a hold of even more graphic videos of two different live animal shops in TX and CA — where people pick out the animal, have it slaughtered on the spot and then sold to them right then and there — and you see the mixed-in livestock runs the gamut.

There are pigs in pens, goats and sheep hoarded together … and, of course, as we’ve seen in New York and elsewhere — chicken and rabbits cooped up in cages — all in the same area within earshot of each other, and all getting butchered.

Ya got pigs hanging from hooks out in the open, chicken beaks, feathers and guts all over the floor and in an exposed trash can — this while customers (including kids) come in and browse the freezer for whatever cuts of meat they want. It’s downright dirty and gross.

As we’ve been told by the experts, these one-stop-shop slaughterhouses/storefronts can be breeding grounds for disease — including new viruses, like COVID-19, which supposedly got started at a wet market in China.

We already know of lawmakers in Cali and New York working to get these things shut down, but it’s pretty apparent there needs to be federal legislation rolled out to address this. Can’t call the kettle black when we’re swimming in the freakin’ pot.

Tune in to TMZ on TV weekdays Monday through Friday (check syndicated/local listings)

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