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Why Am I Going Crazy During Quarantine?

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Most of us have long entered the stage of quarantine where we feel like we’ve lost our minds. Now, the best thing that can happen is everything going back to normal, especially social gatherings and activities. But why exactly do we all feel like we are going crazy?

There is a pretty high chance that the inability to stay sane during quarantine has more to do with deeper psychological reasons rather than boredom alone.

If you’ve ever thought, “Geez, why do I feel like I’m going crazy during quarantine?” You can be assured that there’s definitely some real science going on behind this sense of estranged madness.

Isolation goes against human nature

First, a key lesson that any social psychology expert would most likely impart to you is that humans are social animals. That’s right—we literally feed off of social interaction to survive. When you think about it, this makes perfect sense.

We are inclined to pay attention to what other people are doing and feeling, which can have a direct effect on our own thoughts and actions. Oftentimes in what is known as the “Bystander Effect,” the very presence of other people can affect what we do because we are an interrelational species.

Whether we are aware of it or not, we are part of a daily cycle of codependency and interdependency. For that to suddenly be stripped away would leave the average person a bit disoriented.

People affect people; social psychology proves that we do not, and cannot, live in isolation. This is especially evident in the well-known “bystander effect” theory.

Studies have shown that when somebody is alone, they tend to trust their instincts and react immediately, but as soon as there is another person, there is an obvious delay in their decision-making.

For example, if a man cries for help and you are the only one in sight, you would be more than likely to assist him. However, if there are two others with you, there would be notable hesitation. You and they depend on each other, and you are essentially trusting others’ instincts more than your own.

This just proves that being in isolation during quarantine and practicing social distancing are literally going against our human nature.

Yes, boredom strikes, and loneliness strikes, but the next time you seriously begin to wonder, “Why am I going crazy?” just remember that by being alone, we are defying our genetic coding, and ultimately can’t help but feel subjugated.

Cutting out social interaction can also trigger a loss of reality, decreased sense of empathy, inability to stay sane during quarantine, shorter life span, increased risk of dementia, and more, all just from being deprived of company.

Old habits have fallen apart

Second, your routine has most likely been upended since the COVID-19 pandemic began. This triggers the human brain in more ways than we know. 

Another amazing function of the human body that we often forget about is our “fight or flight” response. When you regulate your daily actions, you deactivate your “fight or flight” instincts because you’re no longer confronting the unknown.

Simply put, this means that the human body puts its guard down once it feels safe to do so. Its fear instincts are temporarily shut off so that the person can fully enjoy what they are doing. This is where the beauty of routine kicks in.

Interestingly enough, because routine is seen as a safety belt, we allow fear and impulse to make decisions when it is taken away, versus our own conscience. If this is kept up for long enough, stress and uneasiness are irrefutably bound to follow.

Habits are powerful tools. As people used to say, old habits are hard to change. However, good habits are also just as hard to change. Habits, routines, and the ways in which we programmed ourselves to go about our daily chores are what likely kept you afloat until COVID-19.

But now, you’ve been forced to uproot your own system and create a new and less desirable one, making it harder to stay sane during quarantine.

The power of repetition and routine on both physiological and psychological responses is consequential. So, the next time you think that you’re going crazy during quarantine, take a step back, grab some paper and a pencil, and try rebranding yourself.

Health issues may arise with less physical activity

Drastically reducing or eliminating physical activity can lead to muscle atrophy. This is essentially when muscles waste away from lack of use or activity, which in turn can greatly impact mental health, too.

Many of us are already tired and lazy, to begin with, but when we had obligations such as school, work, the gym, or going out with friends, it gave us more motivation to stay on our feet.

Quarantine has not only prevented all of these activities from taking place, but it has also locked us up in our rooms, and, well, it takes a lot of motivation to leave the safe confinements of a bedroom to go on a run outside. Why not snack on a bag of chips, right? 

Keep in mind that cardiac dysfunction would greatly affect your mental health. Patients afflicted with muscular dystrophy tend to display signs of cognitive impairment, severe depression, sadness, and anxiety.

However, it has been scientifically proven that anxiety or acute daily psychological stress can result in muscle atrophy. Now we’ve really put ourselves into a vicious and unhealthy cycle: the results of anxiety are also the causes of it.

Keeping your muscles intact during quarantine by working out or simply going on a morning stroll would be doing your future self a massive service.

Next time somebody asks you during quarantine, “Why am I going crazy?” you might want to check up on their physical activity levels. Staying active is about more than just physical health or losing weight; it’s about preserving mental health as well.

The future is uncertain

For years, we have had the assurance that we could go to a college lecture, take detailed notes for an hour, and come back home after a fulfilling day. It was easy to stay sane with our repetitive and predictable lifestyles.

In quarantine, though, the pandemic controls everything from finding a job to purchasing from fast-food restaurants.

How soon can we ditch the mask? Nobody knows. Will the virus ever go away entirely? Nobody knows.

The fact that the future is uncertain makes our impulses itch with frustration, and it kills us to not be in control of our lives anymore.

To make matters worse, a tricky disease could strike at any moment, even after we take the highest safety precautions. It seems as if we are not even in control of our own health or safety, and any overprotective mom or at-risk elderly person will tell you they’ve had enough.

As good citizens, we know we should follow stay-at-home orders; but as humans, we need to know what happens next. Even when the future is uncertain, we need the answers. Our lives are at the mercy of a microscopic malefactor so unpredictable that doctors keep changing their precautions against it.

When uncertain schedules or futures stress you out, remember that you are more in control than you think. Although you may not know what will happen or how to counteract eternal time-outs, you can still stay sane during quarantine by knowing how you will react.

Will you get angry at every store closing, or will you seek out new locations to visit? Will you get angry at every new announcement of “two more weeks,” or will you be proactive and prepare back-up plans ahead of time?

Despite what you see in the media of how the future is uncertain, you are still in control of your life, and neither sickness nor struggle can take that away from you. 

We all have the feeling of not belonging

As sports are canceled and graduations are taken online, it can be easy to feel like we are not part of anything anymore. This feeling of not belonging drives us crazy. School spirit turns to dead sound while once lively neighborhoods turn to prisons.

Just as we all need interpersonal communication as humans, we also need to feel like we belong to something. However, with the only connection we feel nowadays being to our apathetic feline, we are more separated today than ever. 

If you feel like the world is running its course without you, you’re not alone. Psychology proves that we hunger to be a part of something larger than ourselves.

We need to belong to a cause — whether it be in friendship, schooling, hobbies, religion, or interests — if we want to stay sane like other group members.  

The next time you feel alone, why not join a Facebook group about a pastime you enjoy? Or, when the feeling of not belonging steals your joy, why not call an old friend who lives doors down? With technology, we have the ability to be more connected than ever. Take advantage of it.

In fact, we are already linked to one another in that we are all humans going through similar circumstances. True, our situations differ from that of others, but we are still connected in that we are going through these troubles by one another’s side.

Years in the future, we may even look back at this pandemic as something that brought our world together. 

We are feeling like life is pointless

The news repeats to us dangers and death tolls alike, as if calling for a hero to save us. And all we can do is sit back and “relax” in an uncomfortable chair. Although the pandemic is not our fault, we feel like we have to be doing something productive to save the world — but we can’t.

Instead, we are told to save the world by watching Netflix. Though this small task seemed amusing at first, every time we click “Continue Watching” on the judgemental “Are you still watching?” makes us feel we have to be doing something else. Anything else.

It gets to the point where our efforts seem insignificant and we get the feeling like life is pointless.

“I’m not a doctor,” you may tell yourself. “I’m not working on the front lines, so there’s nothing I can do to help.” Perhaps the burden worse than not doing anything is the realization that there may be nothing you can do. While you’re not wrong, though, you’re not right either.

We love reading or watching about dystopian worlds like Divergent and The Hunger Games, saying we would do anything to be as brave as Tris or as resourceful as Katniss in times of trouble. Well, now’s your chance.

If you are feeling like life is pointless for lack of effort in this pandemic, it may be the world telling you it’s time to act.

Whether that be through donations, service, or a friendly phone call makes no difference. There is no better time than now to start being the relief that your society needs you to be.

Not all of us are in the same boat

We’ve all read about people throwing block parties, flying to Hawaii, and crowding the city beaches. Depending on your situation, you might even have people in your immediate life, like family or friends, who disregard quarantine safety.

If you’re quarantined, and have been for months, then watching your loved ones go to parties and go on vacation feels extremely isolating.

This can make someone question their own perceptions. If your loved ones are hanging out with friends, and you respect their opinion, then surely, it should be fine to socialize normally again, right?

As human beings, we naturally want to fit in with our peers, and if they’re out partying, then it’s tempting to join them. Unfortunately, the rapidly rising case count and death toll is a statement against that.

Watching your peers and loved ones can make you feel crazy. It can make you wonder if the pandemic really “is that bad.” However, it’s crucial to not let this sway your opinion, and make unsafe decisions such as going to parties or crowded restaurants.

We have to learn new social vocabulary

On a similar note, the way that we interact with people is markedly different than before. From a cultural standpoint, we are not taught to how to politely decline an invitation because of pandemic safety precautions.

People need to learn how to say things like, “Sorry, you can’t come in unless you have a mask on,” “I don’t feel comfortable with hanging out because of the pandemic,” and “I feel uncomfortable when you go to parties, because I’m afraid you will catch COVID-19.”

Interactions over Zoom and other forms of calling are also different from in-person interaction. We lose a lot of the nuance of physical spaces and activities, and have to supplement them with online interactions.

Especially for people who are unfamiliar with technology, learning how to navigate an online social life is extremely draining.

Of course, how severe the effects of quarantine are, depends on one’s situation, personality, and history. Arguably, an extrovert may feel more suffocated from this social loss than an introvert who can thrive while curled up on the sofa with a book.

Nonetheless, we are all human, and we are all social animals.

As lockdowns ease up, let’s continue to do ourselves favors, be mindful, and not Google “Why am I going crazy during quarantine?” anymore.