How to survive isolation when you are claustrophobic

Lockdown is a particularly nerve-racking time for those who can’t stand being in confined spaces.

Psychoanalyst Liliane Holstein has offered some advice for those struggling with such a phobia.

“In their everyday lives, claustrophobic people imagine a multitude of ways to get out of a situation they cannot overcome,” says Liliane Holstein, a French psychoanalyst and the author of the book Le Burn-out parental (Parental Burnout).

“Their number one priority is control. Confinement intensifies these issues. It's impossible for them to control what is happening.

“I think that knowing a de-confinement date is a good thing. For them, it's a date to hold out hope for.”  

Queenslanders enjoy the sunshine at a park in Brisbane. Source: AAP

But how do you get back on top of things and relieve inner-tension when you’re very anxious?

“You have to learn to make sense of things,” says Ms Holstein.

“Asking yourself what is or isn't really serious, and above all, putting things into perspective.”

Living through this period of confinement during the coronavirus epidemic is certainly not easy, but the situation is not as serious as an illness or the loss of a loved one.

“In a split second, everything can change,” says the psychoanalyst.

In these moments, even the most anxious can dig deep and learn to put things into perspective.

Ms Holstein says this period is the perfect time to learn to develop our senses, which we often forget to do in our daily lives.

“An hour of freedom during this period is easily worth five or six hours in normal times,” she said.

“In the end, we might just realise that we don't make the most of being able to do this every day.”

People fish at Melbourne's Mordialloc harbour as lockdown restrictions ease. Source: AAP

Tips for claustrophobes in isolation

To "relax", claustrophobes can also engage in activities such as meditation. Among other things, Liliane Holstein recommends listening to “nice, happy” podcasts rather than watching the news over and over again.

"It gives a feeling of openness and optimism,” she said.

This need for openness is the particular issue for people who suffer from claustrophobia.

"I would advise limiting screen time as much as possible. Screens narrow the field of vision. Instead, you should open the window and look outside.”

A good way to start to find freedom.

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