The Four Stages of Quarantine
The human mind is a wonderful thing. So adaptive. In the beginning there was BQ (before quarantine) where most of us moved about without fear of unseen germs that threatened to kill us, or worse—make us very, very sick.
Now less than two months into full quarantine, our lives have changed abruptly. Some of us enjoy the peace of not having to dress up for work or even take a daily shower. Others miss their social connections and long for the day they’ll be able to hug a friend or just see them face to face—six feet away, of course.
I’ve noticed that there seem to be four stages to quarantine. Most of us are in the third, although some more resilient souls have made it to the fourth. The first stage is denial. We acknowledge there is a virus that poses a threat. But mostly a threat to other people and not a big enough threat to disrupt our own lives. And certainly not big enough to take more than two weeks—three at the outside—to conquer. And life will return to normal.
The second stage is adaptation. Here we realize that the virus is a bigger threat than we thought at first, but if we just hunker down with a supply of toilet paper and hand sanitizer all will be well and we’ll outlast that fiendish little bug. Piece of cake, right?
The third stage is despair and depression. With grocery shelves devoid of hand sanitizer and toilet paper, other necessities like beer and donuts are in short supply. Hints of desperation reinforced by media gurus who beat the drum with conflicting messages, cause confusion. We do our part by physically distancing and wearing face coverings varying from balaclavas to bandannas and stalk supermarkets carefully. But there is no clear way forward.
The fourth stage is acceptance. This is characterized by realizing that no one has all the answers because we’ve never encountered anything like this in our lifetimes. Heck, even the questions are changing week by week, or sometimes day by day. Realizing that in spite of all the uncertainty, we are adaptable, intelligent survivors, and care not only about our own well being but that of others is key getting your life back. This experience is calling for the highest and noblest actions in all of us. For the most part, we are stepping up. We are adapting to something that wasn’t even on our radar two months ago.
Like I said, the human mind is a wonderful thing. What we can control in this chaotic world of unseen germs and new social norms and vast economic and political uncertainty is how we will choose to respond to the challenge. Some minds will see this as an unrecoverable catastrophe, others as an adventure. Some will see this as an opportunity to exploit while others will recognize it as a way to elevate lives. Choices are powerful things. What will you do with yours?