The 7 Stages of Shelter-in-Place (Are You Losing Your Mind? Find Out Here)
A couple of months ago, none of us even knew what the term “shelter-in-place” meant. We were blissfully ignorant about how hard coronavirus would hit and how much it would affect our everyday lives. Now, here we are, weeks into lockdown, and we’ve become experts on how to not leave the house. It’s been quite the journey, and along the way, we passed through several distinct phases of coping with little social interaction, fresh air, or mind-stimulating activities. We’ve learned a thing or two as well, and today, we’re revealing the seven stages of dealing with shelter-in-place during coronavirus lockdown so you can measure your progress. Have you reached enlightenment yet? Read on to find out!
Cover Photo: Koldunova_Anna (Getty Images)
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Nobody thought it would happen here. For several months, coronavirus was something that was devastating countries far, far away. You watched as it ravaged China and Italy and as those countries went into lockdown, but you never, ever imagined it would make it all the way to your hometown, much less confine you to home. Even as one state after another declared shelter-in-place, you didn’t think you’d ever hear your governor endorse such drastic measures. But then they did. The pandemic was not only real, it was in your backyard.
Wait. You’re going to be stuck at home for days, weeks, possibly months? Cue panic shopping, especially of seemingly essential items, like toilet paper, that won’t actually protect you from COVID-19 or help you manage its symptoms. You knew piling your cart with Charmin, dry pasta, and eggs was irrational, but you couldn’t help yourself. Your fridges and cupboards, which were previously sparsely stocked, are now overflowing with enough food to last you through the end of the year. And yet it still doesn’t seem like enough. After scrambling for food, you also started to stockpile cleaning supplies, masks, gloves, and anything else you felt might remotely protect you from COVID-19’s wrath. You had pandemic nightmares about empty shelves and people not social distancing properly. You refreshed the news feed every five minutes. Coronavirus was all you could think about, all day, every day.
Shelter-in-place sounded like a paid vacation at first. Then you found out that instead of getting paid, your employer was laying everyone off, leaving you to apply for unemployment, which pales in comparison to your former paycheck (which was piddly at best). Now, no matter what government officials do, whether it’s reinforcing the shelter-in-place restrictions or speaking optimistically about how America is going to get back to work, it pisses you off. You don’t want to put yourself at risk by going to work but you don’t want to live off government peanuts, either. And without gyms or bars open, you can’t sweat or drink your rage away.
Hello, darkness, your old friend. You don’t know when the tears started flowing, but once they started, you couldn’t stop them. You compulsively clicked on COVID-19 human interest stories. Your heart hurt as you scrolled through shocking coronavirus-era images on CNN. You read obituaries of people too young to die. You mourned the life you used to have and now know you didn’t realize how good you had it before. Will life ever go back to normal? Is it worth living if it doesn't?
You got sick and tired of feeling down, so you started trying to find a loophole. Can you still go on a date if you keep a 6-foot distance? Can you do happy hour virtually? Can you maintain a side-hustle from the comfort of your couch? In this stage of shelter-in-place, you started getting creative with your free time and testing the boundaries of your confinement. You will not let coronavirus keep you down!
You’ve gotten a little loopy. You’ve begun to collage entire walls of your living space. You’ve started a podcast. You’ve knit your dog a whole new wardrobe. You’ve cleaned nooks and crannies you didn’t even know existed in your bathroom. You talk to yourself because there’s no one else to talk to. Your hair is wily and unmanageable. You’ve become unhinged. Is this the end?
One morning, you wake up and feel a strange sense of peace and acceptance. Shelter-in-place is the new normal now, and surprisingly, you’re adapting to it. You enjoy your own company. You prefer your home cooking to take-out. You’re proud of the little projects you’ve done over the past several weeks. You’re even considering a career change now that you’ve gotten used to working at home. You’ve lost weight from all those exercise videos you’ve been doing and you’re more mellow thanks to meditation. Maybe shelter-in-place was the wake-up call you’d been waiting for. This, too, shall pass, but you will be forever changed – for the better.
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