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Prof. Dr. Stephan Mühlig, holder of the professorship for Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy at Chemnitz University of Technology and head of the Chemnitz Smokers' Clinic and the Psychotherapeutic University Outpatient Clinic (PHA-TUC GmbH), gives advice on how to deal with quarantine or curfew

    "We are all currently in an exceptional situation that has never been seen before and for most of us is completely unfamiliar," says Prof. Dr. Stephan Mühlig, holder of the professorship for Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy at Chemnitz University of Technology and head of the Chemnitz Smokers' Clinic and the Psychotherapeutic University Clinic (PHA-TUC GmbH). Many people are currently not only concerned about the health risks and economic effects of the "corona crisis", but are also wondering with increasing uncertainty how they can survive the weeks or even months more or less isolated in their own home environment. How can you help maintain your own mental, social and physical health and protect yourself from the "camp fever"? Prof. Mühlig gives ten recommendations:

    1. Maintain the daily rhythm

    Maintain a regular daily rhythm with fixed getting up, working and sleeping times, even in the home office or homeschooling. This creates a regular daily structure and promotes emotional stability. Make sure that the children also maintain an appropriate daily structure, even if they do not have to be woken up at the same time as for the first lesson. Schoolchildren should be helped to structure the submitted school assignments and to process them in meaningful “portions”. Otherwise, many children feel downright "overwhelmed" by the unfamiliar amount of tasks that are "concentrated" by the teachers for a week or longer and react with fear, stress and resistance. Especially for working single parents, under the given conditions, there is an acute double burden between home office use and simultaneous childcare in their own household. When in doubt, caring for young children should take precedence over professional responsibilities. In order to achieve an appropriate balance, home office tasks should be timed in such a way that they can be agreed with the toddler care team (e.g. moved to the evening hours). Employers and superiors are required to show understanding under the exceptional conditions and to make concessions to the work performance of employees.

    2. Strive for exercise in the fresh air

    If possible and permitted, take walks outdoors alone or with family members. Exercise and fresh air benefit both physical and mental health, and the immune system is stimulated. If the lungs are ventilated through moderate exertion, they are better supplied with blood, which in turn supports the defense against infection (also against SARS-CoV-2). An at least brief change of location prevents the stimulus monotony in your own four walls and increases your well-being. Children in particular need time and the opportunity to run around outside and in the fresh air, but not for the time being with other children outside the family. This must be explained to them and enforced against all "whining".

    3. Develop a training plan for exercising at home

    Exercising in your own home also helps to maintain health and improves the quality of life. Put together an indoor training plan and get in motion for at least 15 to 30 minutes a day, if possible with good room ventilation.Simple and helpful are, for example, jumping rope (with or without rope), squats, push-ups, sit-ups, etc. , or yoga, tai-chi or similar. On the Internet you will find numerous, also scientifically tested indoor training programs for different ages and levels of training. Regular moderate physical exertion (up to slight sweating) stabilizes the cardiovascular system, the immune defense, but also the psychological well-being and serves to reduce tension and stress.

    4. Refrain from cigarettes and alcohol to strengthen the immune system

    Anyone who smokes should stop as soon as possible. A previously damaged or acutely irritated lung is likely to be associated with an increased risk of a severe course of the disease if smokers become infected and become ill. Alcohol consumption is also not helpful. Alcohol only kills viruses in the test tube. Alcohol in the bloodstream, on the other hand, does not protect against a viral infection, but it disrupts the immune system. This also applies to other drugs.

    5. Maintain social contacts via the Internet and telephone

    It is extremely difficult for many people to suspend their social contacts for a long time, not to be allowed to socialize. We are social beings and need contact and exchange with other people. In the current situation, however, physical contact, physical closeness to our social environment (outside of one's own household) must be avoided with the greatest possible consequence. Especially for those living alone, this may be a very difficult situation to deal with for a limited amount of time. It is important for the emotional balance to make it clear to yourself that the state of emergency will remain manageable over time. Fortunately, we can now switch to social media. In contrast to previous generations, almost all people in Germany and even worldwide are connected to one another via the Internet. We can write and chat in real time, make phone calls and see and talk to each other via video chat, almost as if we were sitting across from each other. You should take full advantage of these opportunities, keep in touch and seek exchange with as many relatives, friends and acquaintances as possible via social media. In a difficult situation one can exchange experiences and support one another. You should also remember to proactively report to people living alone to alleviate their loneliness.

    6. Look for meaningful and varied activities

    Even under isolation conditions at home you can keep yourself busy, e.g. B. Do things that you always wanted to do at home, e.g. B. tidy up, "muck out" or redesign the apartment, tidy up the hard drive, archive photos, experience entertainment games with the family or read a book again. Television, computer games, Netflix streaming etc. serve as distraction and are of course possible. If the isolation lasts for several weeks, passive entertainment or video games are too one-sided. It is important for emotional stability to look for tasks with which one can remain productive in the waiting time. One should consider that streaming movies and series for hours or similar large amounts of data transmissions for leisure purposes can overload the networks and severely impair the social exchange of data for home office activities, which are essential for the functioning of our economy and society.

    7. Finding a balance between being together and being able to be for oneself

    When living close together under one roof over a long period of time, it often happens that "the others" get on our nerves, that one can get extremely angry about little things and that conflicts and arguments quickly arise. Here it is important to find a good balance between being together and being able to be for oneself. First and foremost, this includes protecting your own privacy and respecting that of others. Retreat areas and opportunities must be created and maintained for every household member.

    8. Find rules for living together in the household

    Some people know it from the times of shared apartments: Mutual consideration also includes finding a common order in the household and rules for living together. When everyone is more considerate of each other, there is less reason to argue. If you can't get out of your way, you should avoid conflicts or resolve them quickly. For a comfortable coexistence, it is also helpful to do some activities with all household members on a regular basis, e.g. B. the ritual of common meals, but also common leisure activities (board games, basting, puzzles, etc.). You can use the time for yourself - instead of just consuming media and distraction - meaningfully by doing something specifically for your own mind, e.g. B. through relaxation, meditation or listening to music or making music or singing yourself.

    9. Pay attention to reputable sources of information

    It is important and possible not to lose your head. On the one hand, everyone should recognize the seriousness of the situation and act accordingly. On the other hand, despite everything, there is no reason to panic. We live in a rich country with many resources and will ultimately get through this crisis. An objective and sensible assessment of the situation will help you not to worry too much and to maintain confidence. A constructive approach includes obtaining sufficient and correct information. Keep yourself up to date on a daily basis, but make sure that your sources of information are reputable. In particular, you can refer to information from the federal and state governments and the Robert Koch Institute. Unfortunately, there is again a lot of misinformation and conspiracy theories circulating on the Internet, with which some unscrupulous people make themselves important or even earn money. This fake news leads to wrong assessments and wrong actions. They are dangerous because failure to follow safety recommendations puts us all at risk. You should explain the situation to the children in age-appropriate language, without overwhelming them or frightening them. The message should be: Everything will be fine, we can do it!

    10. Seek help if you are overwhelmed

    Anyone who has the impression that they are overwhelmed with the situation in spite of all this, or suffers, for example, from anxiety, restlessness, extreme tension, overactivity, irritability, aggressive outbursts or pronounced dejection, should contact the professional help system (e.g. advice centers at the Health insurance companies, helpline, psychotherapeutic advice centers) Contact by phone or email.

    Mario Steinebach
    23.03.2020

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