Quarantine envy is a thing when you’re stuck in a tiny inside space

When does quarantine envy kick in? They say the grass is always greener on the other side — and my does that grass look extra green during a pandemic. Being quarantined and stuck at home means your environment takes on new meaning, and not necessarily a good one. Feeling jealous of other people’s homes and situation is a natural right now. Most of us don’t live in castles or on yachts, and we’re stuck inside in small spaces. But there are other kinds of quarantine envy.

Quarantine envy when your home is no castle

Are you envious of people with two-level houses, a great backyard or an actual home office? I never realized how small my home was until my fiancé, Michael, and I were in it 24/7. Up until COVID, we had opposite schedules for 6 years and now we’re forced to coexist in a space that suddenly doesn’t seem perfect anymore. You might long for luxury homes you see on social media. and you are probably experiences relationship stressors, which are very common right now.

When you have no alone time

Another kind of quarantine envy is when you have no private time anymore. One of my close friends, Elly, is jealous of the alone time I have, because I don’t have children. Don’t get me wrong, Elly’s kids are her world; but now she needs to cut her hours at work to home school them. Not only does this present a monetary issue, but she has no help and her own options for self care is lacking. She wishes she had more time to reboot and financially take care of her family.

How about no vacation or time off

Michael’s best friend is an essential worker who’s resentful that he’s been required to physically go into work since day one. He’s had to risk his health and work overtime with little appreciation. Although he’s sour about it, he’s trucking through — there’s some motivation to admire. How about not having any vacation and seeing people enjoying themselves on camping trips or at the beach?

The concept of quarantine envy is trending

According to the NY Times: “Quarantine envy: If it’s not a widespread term yet, it should be. Envy, of course, is the joy-devouring emotion of craving what others have. Even before the pandemic, social media was linked to rising levels of the emotion.

Social media magnifies and creates instant, destructive envy.

Andrew Oswald, professor of economics and behavioral science at the University of Warwick in England…”

The pandemic has also triggered fear and negative feelings

When human are already miserable about world events, we become extra sensitive and our ability to shake off negative things becomes lessened. Jealousy fuels the fire because the last thing we want to observe while uncomfortable and frustrated are things that we wished we had; especially things that may seem like they would make living during a pandemic easier. Although maybe hard to admit, many of us are going through these emotions and there is no shame in it!

Jens Lange, a psychologist at the University of Hamburg, agrees that the pandemic has shaped environments and living situations that are easy targets for envy. “The pandemic is increasing the divide between the advantaged and disadvantaged, so there’s more opportunity to compare yourself to others in unflattering ways. You may also realize certain things are important that you never thought about. Say you’re alone in lockdown. Before, you were never socially isolated. Now your envy increases toward people locked down in others’ company.”

What are the solutions

Quarantine envy is normal and valid, but how do we get past it? Simply acknowledging where you are at and accepting that it’s okay to feel jealous for another situation due to circumstances beyond our control has the ability to take the weight off. Using the essential worker mentioned above as an example, he would recognize that although he’s jealous of others’ free time that they may well be suffering financially or dealing with stressors of being at home. He would accept that it’s okay to feel how he is feeling to validate his emotions.

It’s important to accept and feel your feelings

We are going through a continuing traumatic event. This pandemic is not like a car accident or a fire … where it happens, then ends, and you can rebuild. We’re still in the middle of this one and don’t know when it is ending or if it will. It’s still transpiring and enduring the uncertainty is scary. It’s good to talk about it with a support network or professional so you aren’t internalizing your fears and resentments.

Stay positive with feelings of gratitude for what you have

Try to keep the positive and what you do have to be grateful for at the forefront of your mind. Personally (and I know it sounds cliché), I make a specific gratitude list for an area of my life that I am struggling with. It helps me stay mindful of the good and when I am feeling uneasy, I can revisit the list and find comfort in what I have to be grateful for.

Be easy on yourself

It’s easier to be compassionate to others, and we often forget ourselves. Quarantine due to the pandemic is a big deal. We are all caught up in a constant state of anxiety so be kind to yourself and graceful of others. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Fix your environment

If it’s possible to be proactive and tackle some environmental changes — do it up! Find a secluded spot for your home office area or brighten your house with colors and lighting. It can be as simple as opening the curtains or working from outside. Get fresh air and mix it up.

What do you do for self care

And, of course, practice self care. Essentially all of the above mentioned are related to self care in one way or another, but make time to pamper yourself and take the weight off your mind. Our bodies need to relax and reboot more now than ever.

The takeaway is simple: Quarantine envy is a common thing that many are struggling with. With acceptance and adjustment, it’s possible to lessen the load of negativity. It will take repetition to adapt to a new mindset, but above all, we are never alone. Reframe your thinking and lean on your supports. We got this!


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Alexandra Ashe
Alexandra is a sober woman who loves animals, writing, nature, horror movies, fitness, and self-improvement. After suffering a relapse in late 2016, she revamped her lifestyle and has been sober since March 2017. She is also the CEO and founder of Kinkatopia, which is the only kinkajou-specific organization in the world. Alexandra literally lives and breathes kinkajous — in addition to working a full-time career, taking care of her health, and giving back to the world in other ways. She is a woman on a mission ... the Mother of Kinkajous. Follow Alexandra’s articles to relish her experiences staying sober and running a kinkajou sanctuary. There is never a dull moment, that’s a promise. Kinkatopia.org

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