Travellers from ‘red list’ countries will be sent to quarantine hotels for 10 days when they enter the UK.
The new rules will apply to passengers arriving from high-risk hotspots, in a bid to limit the spread of coronavirus.
A similar system is already in place in other countries, including Australia and Singapore, to ensure self-isolation rules are followed.
Being limited to one room isn’t like staying at home though, and likely comes with a new set of challenges.
So how could you boost your mental and physical health to make 10 days in self-isolation, without your home comforts, more bearable?
Assess how you’re feeling beforehand
“We all know ourselves better than experts, and that will [help] you form the best strategy for yourself,” explains Counselling Directory member and psychotherapist Grace Warwick.
“Self-care for a person with anxiety is going to be different,” for instance, she notes. “The first thing [a person with anxiety might do] is acknowledge that they’re going to need help to get through this.
“If [the situation is] troubling someone, they need to prioritise asking for support.”
This might be asking friends to connect with you every day, or calling the Samaritans on 116 123, who Warwick says are “there to listen and help,” if you want or need someone to talk to.
Conversely, if you’re an introvert perhaps, you may consider a stint in a quarantine hotel as 10 days in which to recharge your batteries.
“Knowing yourself and your needs is really important,” reiterates Warwick.
Think about self-care
“‘How am I going to take care of myself during these days?’ Should be the first question,” says Warwick.
This means putting together a plan and working out what will help boost your mood.
“What can happen when you’re in quarantine is you end up in the same emotional state all the time,” explains Warwick.
“How can self-care change your emotional landscape?” She recommends doing things you love – maybe it’s listening to your favourite music, watching some comedy, or diving into a book.
She also suggests treating yourself to lots of showers or baths (hopefully the shampoo is complimentary), as the sensation can “soothe the body”, and make you feel more connected if you’re alone.
Create a rhythm
A full 10 days in a hotel room might make you feel a bit rudderless, even if you continue to work throughout.
Warwick’s top piece of advice is: “Have a rhythm to the day, split it down into units, make sure there’s a pattern” – and definitely take some time off for the weekend. “Don’t just work straight through for 10 days, because it’s not going to be great for you,” she says.
Whatever you do, Warwick recommends focusing on good sleep hygiene.
“It’s a brilliant opportunity to increase your sleep,” she says. “10 days of increased sleep would do us all the world of good.”
Move your body
From a psychological point of view, Warwick says “it’s essential that you move,” which will help get mood-boosting endorphins flowing.
You can’t exactly pack a whole range of dumbbells or kettlebells in your suitcase though, so you might want to consider packing space-efficient equipment ahead of time – qualified PT Chloe Twist from OriGym recommends resistance bands, push-up handles or a TRX system.
Twist says HIIT or circuit training are ideal in a small space and urges anyone quarantining to include, “exercises that make them feel strong and confident, rather than going for ones that are too challenging or unexciting. This will ensure they stay motivated, and this is important when feeling cooped up.”
She suggests compound exercises like squats, lunges, burpees and push-ups “since they work multiple muscle groups at once”.
“When quarantining in a hotel, I would recommend trying to get in at least three to four HIIT or five to six circuit training sessions over the course of the 10 days, and pairing them with some low-impact exercises between sessions,” says Twist. “This could include dynamic stretching, step exercises whilst watching TV, or yoga.”
Stretching is particularly important as it, helps “reduce the overall stress levels of an individual as well as boosting their ability to sleep, which is vital for those trapped in a situation where they could struggle with both of these things,” she adds.
Be conscious if you’re with someone else
All of the same points apply if you’re quarantining with another person. Warwick says: “Knowing each other’s rhythm and knowing what each other needs” will help the 10 days run more smoothly.
If you’re a couple, Warwick says: “Now is not the time to bring relationship issues into the room.”
While privacy is difficult, the psychotherapist recommends you “discuss each other’s needs” and work around that.
Otherwise, we’d recommend you order in all the snacks, and pack a lot of loungewear.