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Quarantine Hacks From the Breastcancer.org Community: Tips for Coping With Anxiety and Isolation

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managing anxiety and loneliness

The “new normal” caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to persist for the foreseeable future. Staying at home and not seeing friends and family for so long has been difficult for many of us, and over time, this can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and loneliness.

Still, if you’re receiving treatment or recently completed treatment for breast cancer, it’s important to continue limiting contact with people outside your immediate household to keep your heightened risk of infection as low as it can be.

If you are struggling with spending so much time at home, you are not alone. Our Breastcancer.org Community members are sharing how they’re coping with isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some of the most popular “quarantine hacks” — edited slightly for clarity — from the Breastcancer.org Community discussion boards.

Get outside

Many Breastcancer.org Community members are saying that spending time outdoors is helping them to feel better about spending so much time indoors.

“Today I got myself outside and took a walk in the neighborhood. It was glorious! I saw so many amazing views and exquisite flowers. Nature is healing, and exercise helps our mood and our health.”
— Breastcancer.org Community Member, ShetlandPony

“Dog park for me! The fur kids need to run around, too!”
— Breastcancer.org Community Member, Spookiesmom

“If the weather is nice, we take advantage and try to walk a mile or more each day outside. Gets us out of our house at least. Walking on a machine is just not the same as sunshine.”
— Breastcancer.org Community Member, bcincolorado

“I live in the downtown area near a main street. It was clear, sunny and cool this morning so I took a 2-mile walk down that street and it was virtually deserted.”
— Breastcancer.org Community Member, exbrnxgrl

“Will be kayaking with my husband on days the wind dies down and the temperature is above 50. We go out on the Hudson, usually by ourselves.”
— Breastcancer.org Community Member, Jelson

“Getting up and out at 6 a.m. to walk here on Long Island. It puts a smile on my face to hear the birds chirping; sounds of normalcy. It is nice to see families out together, walking, riding bikes, playing on the lawn. Not seen that around much for years.”
— Breastcancer.org Community Member, beach2beach

Exercise inside

Finding a way to make regular exercise a part of your routine is important for your physical and mental health. Many Breastcancer.org Community members are trying new ways of achieving this goal during the pandemic.

“One of my community center exercise class instructors set up a virtual class via Zoom today, which was great.”
— Breastcancer.org Community Member, Jelson

“Pulled out the mini trampoline to use while working at home. I live in a small apartment so I am hoping this helps.”
— Breastcancer.org Community Member, AnnC2019

“My dance and yoga classes are going online. I spend time most mornings, 20-30 minutes, doing stretching and core work. I do have dumbbells and an elliptical, so just need to make the decision to use them.”
— Breastcancer.org Community Member, ShetlandPony

“I am a yoga instructor so I have been leading a class of one (my husband). My yoga studio is live-streaming all their classes on Instagram and it has helped me with my separation anxiety from my yoga community somewhat.”
— Breastcancer.org Community Member, claireinaz

“I live in the dark ages at our house and still have a VCR and my Richard Simmons videos I'm pulling out to use.”
— Breastcancer.org Community Member, bcincolorado

“My fitness classes have gone online, which is great because it keeps me on a regular routine and I get to 'see' my exercise friends.”
— Breastcancer.org Community Member, ruthbru

Cook new things

Eating out at restaurants is a luxury many of us are missing during the ongoing challenges of the pandemic. But some Breastcancer.org Community members are turning this into an opportunity to try new things and develop new skills by cooking more meals at home.

“I've always loved meal planning and preparedness and general homemaking, so I find being at home with time to do all this quite fun actually. We get a weekly vegetable delivery box and lately I've been working on new recipes to use up some odd vegetables.”
— Breastcancer.org Community Member, SondraF

“My son and I have been cooking from scratch more — bread and pasta noodles. That's been fun. We are planting our garden as well. Glad to have him home for this!”
— Breastcancer.org Community Member, santabarbarian

“We've been coming up with innovative recipes using the ingredients I have in my pantry. We could do pasta and tomato sauce every day for a month, but that's boring. I will make a trip to one of my local markets next week to see what I can pick up. Also, my son-in-law works at the wholesale produce market. I'll ask him to drop off some stuff if there's slim pickings at the store. It might not be the produce I want, but at least I'll know it's fresh.”
— Breastcancer.org Community Member, NancyD

“Kind of fun discovering what's in the very back of the freezer and what kind of creative invention I can concoct.”
— Breastcancer.org Community Member, MinusTwo

“I've dug up a dozen recipes I've always wanted to try and never have. If you subscribe to the New York Times food newsletter you get a few free recipes a week and I've enjoyed reading the ones I don't make.”
— Breastcancer.org Community Member, Georgia1

Read books, watch movies, and listen to music and podcasts

Many Breastcancer.org Community members find that reading books they’ve always wanted to read, watching movies, and listening to new music and podcasts is the perfect way to spend that extra time we all have at home.

“Excited to have the time to dive into all the books that I always have waiting.”
— Breastcancer.org Community Member, MinusTwo

“I've been walking daily, watching Netflix, and drinking wine to celebrate my birthday weekend.”
— Breastcancer.org Community Member, LiveLoveLaugh

“I made an end of the world playlist that I put on headphones after dinner while cleaning up and getting ready for the next day and it has helped me escape.”
— Breastcancer.org Community Member, ctmbsikia

But limit your time watching news

While reading books and watching movies has been beneficial to many Breastcancer.org Community members, some agree that it’s best to avoid spending too much time reading and watching the news right now.

“Keeping the TV off as much as possible and I'm trying to stay off the internet!”
— Breastcancer.org Community Member, ctmbsikia

“It's tempting to constantly follow the news, but it gets overwhelming, so I'm trying to schedule that, maybe 3 times a day. Helps with sanity.”
— Breastcancer.org Community Member, ErenTo

Connect with people virtually

Even though we are physically distancing from our friends and loved ones, Breastcancer.org Community members have found plenty of ways to virtually stay connected.

“I found a Facebook group that had a virtual sing along. They provided words to seven songs you could download. I don't know what I expected, but it was two guys in a living room, one with a guitar and great voices, kind of fun.”
— Breastcancer.org Community Member, Jelson

“I have a prayer group and we've been texting regularly how we’re doing, and I have other friends I bug over text.”
— Breastcancer.org Community Member, Togethertolearn

“I have scheduled regular weekly tea time phone visits with three different friends. We get our tea or coffee, settle in to a cozy spot, and spend an hour chatting. Sometimes we use conversation starter questions from Chat Pack cards.”
— Breastcancer.org Community Member, ShetlandPony

“Last night, I locked myself in the bedroom with a glass of Chardonnay and a 3-hour girls night on the phone with one of my besties who lives a state away.”
— Breastcancer.org Community Member, toria1212

Work on hobbies or home projects

Finally, many Breastcancer.org Community members are coping with all this extra time at home by trying new hobbies or checking off some home projects on their to-do lists.

“When the weather isn't good, I am sorting and shredding several boxes of old receipts, files, that should have been done long ago! I have been working on stripping paint from an old iron rail that I am going to re-purpose.”
— Breastcancer.org Community Member, keepthefaith

“If it is too wet outside I would normally quilt, but it looks like making facemasks is in order.”
— Breastcancer.org Community Member, gailmary

For more “quarantine hacks,” or to share your own, join the Conversation on the Breastcancer.org Community Discussion Boards.

Written by:
Jamie DePolo, senior editor
Adam Leitenberger, editorial director


This article is part of Circle of Care: Finding Support with Metastatic Breast Cancer, presented by:

Healthline Partnership


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