Self-quarantine experience from Beijing, China

My family and I have been in self-quarantine since 24 January in Beijing, China. In the past 8 weeks I have worked from home and followed the local policy to take strict self-quarantine measures. Thankfully we are now seeing the light at the end of the tunnel this week and things are improving.

I am sharing my personal experience to give you some ideas on how to support your mental health through this experience based on what worked for my friends and I.

Tips for mental health

1. Prepare self-care items

Buy books, music or dig out any other items from your storage to keep you or your family happy and reduce anxiety.

2. Find a happy middle

At first everyone in China started panicking and hoarding medical supplies, groceries and masks before they realised there was enough for everyone. There is no need to panic buy, but equally you should be listening to the government’s advice on mandatory quarantine and social distancing.

3. Keep active

Keeping active helped me feel better mentally and physically. House cleaning, yoga and chasing kids around the house were my options.

4. Keep up with your plans

Despite the outbreak of COVID-19 I have kept working on my university paper by doing research and communicating with my professors. Even though I have not completed it, working on it has helped me remain positive and productive.

5. Be dressed

For the first couple of weeks, you may find yourself wearing pajamas all day. Putting on some comfortable clothes other than pajamas before your morning reading or coffee can make a big difference. I find it really keeps your spirits up.

6. Take a walk outside

A walk is great when you can but please follow your local health advice. I went out for a walk in our gated community and seeing delivery workers and friends waving through windows made me realise self-quarantine is totally worth it.

7. Stay connected with friends

You have more opportunity to chat online while most of us are kept home due

to this global pandemic. My friends and classmates found it more convenient now to see each other via virtual tools, without travelling.

8. Find the silver linings

My first two weeks were hard. I was parenting two young kids and dealing with my own mental health. But the messages received from friends and colleagues outside China have given me lots of strength to get through this and now I have discovered new skills, like cooking and baking.

9. Acknowledge the hard parts

It was unforeseen to us when this started, but we do our best to continue to live our lives as best we can. We know that spring will come.

10. Take the opportunity to spend time with family

Over the past 18 months before this, I never had the chance to sit down and have a dinner with my family, due to other tasks. But now this opportunity has come and offered me time with my family and taught me to appreciate the little things.

11. Live your life to the best

It is a different life for everyone from affected countries. While being mentally prepared for the fact that it is probably going to get worse, we all should live the life to the best and always remember that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

12. Being prepared to help

While in quarantine, I have participated in fundraising work; coordinating supplies from delivery companies, purchasing masks and protective suits and delivering to local hospitals. This is a hard time indeed, for me and all of us. We support each other and gain strength from each other.

Lyla Meng
25 March, 2020 in Beijing, China.