We Are Shut In, Not Shut Out

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by Dr. C |

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My chronic disease has forced me to stay home for a week after an exhausting recent trip to St. Louis. When my symptoms force me to curtail engagement outside the home, I become a “shut-in.”

Many are entering voluntary home confinement due to COVID-19. People also are experiencing mandatory lockdowns by decree in several states. Confinement is probably a new and uncomfortable experience for many, but the chronic disease community has learned to live with restricted access without shutting out the world. We have a pool of wisdom that can help people with this difficult adjustment.

Following are tips to help with this forced — but temporary — confinement.

Stay home, but stay engaged

Embrace your responsibility to help curb COVID-19. Practice social distancing and disinfect your hands and hard surfaces. Reach out when necessary to secure food and shelter for you and your family. Respect the mandatory lockdown requirements for nonessential tasks and travel. Support essential workers in the community who are vital to maintaining our health.

Find ways to stay connected with co-workers, friends, and family despite social distancing. Use the internet or your phone, but don’t stay glued to the screen. Pick one block of time every day to get news updates. Constant and relentless news will only escalate your emotions. Being informed is important; being overwhelmed is not.

Patience and communication are key

Realize that working from home is different than relocating to another building for work. Be patient with yourself and the people around you as you adjust. Keep a regular schedule as much as you can. It is often tempting to work all of the time. Schedule meals, family time, and activities into your day, just as you have before. It takes time to adjust to the disruption of our “normal” work routine.

If you live with other people, you must spend more time on communication. Personal space becomes a priority. Set aside a place in your home that is your private space and communicate that boundary to the people living with you. Access that space when you need to but don’t get lost there.

Live well

Make time for threshold management. Emotions surrounding COVID-19 can easily escalate to mass hysteria. It is easy to become emotionally overwhelmed, but only you can quiet your mind during a lockdown. Remember, this is temporary. Just put one foot in front of the other and stay safe.

Social distancing is an opportunity to engage in activities you’ve always wanted to do but never had the time. I retrained my eyes to use eccentric viewing automatically, which took hundreds of hours. Pick something important, something that will lift your spirits, and something that will improve your quality of life. You are shut in, not shut out. You may be locked down but not locked out of contact.

Maintain healthy life habits. Try not to let stress trigger a regression to old, unhealthy habits. Eat well, exercise, rest, and use windows, patios, and decks to get a daily dose of sunshine and fresh air.

These are difficult times. Most people don’t have the experience of being forced into home confinement by a disease, but the chronic disease community has a wealth of experience with such matters. Hopefully, this column will generate shared wisdom about being shut in and not shut out. We can help during this crisis. Please send this column to everyone you know and post it on social media.


Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.


Garrett McAuliffe avatar

Garrett McAuliffe

In some strange way I have found it to be a bit of a relief to be part of the community that is sharing a challenge. I sometimes feel with Parkinson’s that I missing out on things that I would otherwise have been able to do what other people are doing. In a sense of my being more in the home due to Parkinson’s and now shared by everyone. It also gives me permission to be around the home. In a sense that’s helpful because I do find certain social engagements to be challenging and threatening at times, especially if I anticipate being off during the time of a dinner or concert, for example. I’ve also gone from being quite extroverted to being more introverted since my Parkinson’s has progressed. So I feel more prepared for this situation due to Parkinson’s. Curious.

Dr. C avatar

Dr. C

Hi Garrett ~ Thanks for your comment. If you have any suggestions for others, please share in additional comments. My idea in writing the column was to share the idea that Parkinson's has prepared us for dealing with the same issues now faced by the world at large. It is "curious" that we would be in a position to give back to the community the tips and strategies that we deal with every day. I face the same issues as you, balancing social activities with surges of pain and increased symptoms. I have found that by being upfront with folks is generally the best solution to managing engagements. Please stay safe and healthy during this challenging time. I appreciate your following my column and accessing the resources at BioNews Today.
Dr. C.


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