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Those who are keeping their distance from others publically, may be experiencing some melancholy and stress in their home relationships. The harmful psychological effects of solitary confinement are well described in animal models as well as in studying those who are incarcerated. A third of solitary inmates developed a specific psychiatric syndrome, characterized by hallucinations, panic attacks, overt paranoia, diminished impulse control, hypersensitivity to external stimuli, and difficulties with thinking, concentration and memory. Some inmates lose the ability to think clearly, while others develop crippling obsessions.

The difference in our current society restriction is that we are confining ourselves with government decree as a public health measure, and each of us are practicing self-imposed restriction. We have a way out of our front doors, and can leave our homes at will to shop and attend essential functions. We also have access to tools in our homes that allow us to maintain social relationships and obtain stimuli- reading materials, TV, video, phones and perhaps cohabitating family members. But of course this new found time is a bonanza for hobby and personal development. (Time to dust off that old accordion!) It may be time to put down the phone and play a game with your children, actually engaging them in conversation. Home schooling is stressful for parents and kids, who are used to a different structure to their educational day. The tools and creativity you employ to engage those children will probably have you achieve a new appreciation for the teachers in their lives.

Your time of solitude may be an opportunity for mindfulness. It may allow you to pay attention to yourself in a way that our frenetically paced world hasn’t allowed. Despite your fear of the Wuhan virus and its economic uncertainties, right now in this moment you may rejoice in the notion that you are well. We just celebrated Easter- acknowledging the ultimate sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins- through the death of Jesus Christ. I hope you can find solace in your own rewards for your own sacrifices, now and in the coming days.

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