How to Handle Coronavirus Isolation and Anxiety

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on January 02, 2023
4 min read

The coronavirus outbreak forced all of us to stay home and isolate. While society and the world have eased most of its restrictions, it has left a psychological mark on many. The pandemic may have you feeling lonely, isolated, stressed, and anxious. Whether you’re social distancing or required to stay home, these tips may help you feel better.

Do something about the things you have control over.

Do what you can to stay safe and healthy. Vaccines are available and you should get one to protect yourself. Continue to follow the CDC’s guidelines on protecting yourself and others.

If you’re worried about bills, be proactive. Call your credit card companies or bank. Many businesses are offering flexible schedules or lower payments.

Now’s not the time to slack off on sleep, exercise, or diet. Good self-care offsets anxiety and stress.

Eat well. Go for walks if you can. Get 6-8 hours of sleep a night. Try deep breathing, stretching, meditation, mindfulness, and yoga.

Have a daily routine. Have a regular wake-up and bedtime. Make time for exercise and relaxation.

Socialization is key, especially if you feel isolated. Feeling connected to others wards off loneliness and stress.

First, swap the term “social distancing” for “physical distancing.” Remind yourself that we’re all still connected, even if we’re apart.

You can still get together with friends and family while taking precautions. If they are unavailable or have their own concerns, ”meet” with them online or on your phone. There are apps that make face-to-face conversations easy. Send emails and texts. Get in touch on social media. Pick up the phone and say hi.

Look online for religious services and cultural events. Many organizations are offering digital gatherings.

Share your feelings with others. Conversation helps you feel less alone and more supported.

The pandemic has offered a unique chance for quality family time. As things open up, there is no reason to revert to pre-pandemic habits.

Make an effort to do those activities you don’t always have time for. Play board games. Do puzzles. Bake together. Have deep, relaxed conversations while you have the opportunity.

Try to focus on progress made since the beginning of the pandemic. Avoid thinking too much about the future or worst-case scenarios. Forecasting can trigger anxiety. Instead of saying, “I’ll never recover,” tell yourself, “I’ll make it through this.”

Try mindfulness. Watch videos on guided meditation and yoga. There are plenty of downloadable apps you can use.

Practice gratitude. Studies suggest finding something to be grateful for every day improves mood. So jot something down. Maybe it’s first responders and service workers who keep us safe. Maybe it’s family, friends, and the roof over your head.

The 24-hour news cycle can make anxiety spike. Give yourself a limit. Stick with what you need to know and what’s happening in your community.

Try limiting your news intake to 30-60 minutes or 1-2 updates a day. That should be enough to be informed.

Stick with 1-2 reliable news sources. Quickly scroll past triggering headlines and photos. Read only what’s relevant to you.

If you have trouble detaching, ask a friend to filter what’s out there and give you only the updates you need.

Try a new hobby. Learn a new language.

Do something that gives you a sense of purpose or accomplishment. Take on what you’ve been putting off, like spring cleaning, finances, or paperwork.

Play uplifting music. Tune into TV shows and movies that distract you from current events. Do things that make you feel good.

Fresh air and exercise help with loneliness and stress. Spending time in nature and exercising releases feel-good chemicals in your brain to boost your mood.

Take a walk if you can. Even if it is recommended that you stay home, you can go outside. Just keep a healthy distance from others. Wear a high-quality face mask when you’re in places where you can’t stay at least 6 feet apart.

Helping others benefits everyone. By giving support, you get a sense of control and purpose.

It can be as simple as a phone call or text saying, “How are you doing? Thinking of you. We’ll get through this.” Knowing someone’s thinking of you does wonders.

If you’re not isolating or quarantined, offer to deliver food to others who can’t leave home. Find a local organization that’s taking donations.

If you're having anxiety, talk to a professional counselor. They may offer phone or online sessions. You can also join an online support group.

If you had anxiety before the coronavirus outbreak and your feelings of fear and panic are getting worse, it’s important that you reach out to your doctor or therapist.

This is a unique situation and it's ever-evolving. Try evolving as well

Many people are maintaining a slower timetable right now for the most part. It’s OK for you to keep a slower pace, too.

Show Sources


Steven J. Brodshy, PsyD.

John McGeehan, LCSW.

Dora Wolfe, PsyD.

National Alliance on Mental Illness: “Coronavirus: Mental Health Coping Strategies.”

RWJ Barnabas Health: “How to Manage Stress and Anxiety from Coronavirus (COVID-19).”

Stanford University: “Instead of social distancing, practice distance socializing instead, urges Stanford psychologist.”

CDC: “Use of Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19.”

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