How to cope with self-isolation

This article was last reviewed on June 21, 2021.

Self-isolation can be difficult. Here are a few tips to help you see it through:

1. Take care of yourself

Look after yourself as you would with any other illness. You can take pain and fever reducing medication, if you need it, to ease your symptoms. Rest as much as you need to. And stay well hydrated by drinking water and other fluids, even if you can only manage frequent small sips.

2. Try to relax

It’s understandable if you’re feeling stressed or worried, but high stress levels can affect your immune system, which is your body’s defense against disease.1 Yoga, mindfulness meditations, or simply deep breathing – using your abdominal muscles instead of your chest and shoulders – can help.2 Place your hand on your belly and feel it rising as you breathe in. Even just a few deep breaths can help ease stress and anxiety.

3. Battle the boredom

If you’re feeling really sick, you won’t be up to doing much more than sleeping, but boredom can set in when you start feeling better. If you’re well enough and working from home is an option for you, do so.

If you’re well but not working from home, now is the perfect time to pick up an old hobby, learn a new language, or work on something creative, like drawing, embroidery, writing, baking, or even sewing masks for those in need.

If you need to feel productive, you can turn your mind to tasks you’ve been putting off – organizing cabinets, sorting through photographs, repairs around the house, unsubscribing from emails, etc.

4. Stay connected

Whether you’re typically an introvert or an extrovert, keeping in contact with your friends and family is important during this time. Sending texts to loved ones who are far away to check in and share how you’re both feeling can have significant positive psychological benefits. Explore new technology (group video chats, FaceTime, etc.) to stay in touch responsibly.

5. Look for the positives

If you find that having to isolate yourself is making you feel low, try to keep in mind that you’re not alone — people all over the world are doing the right thing, just like you, and isolating themselves. In the meantime, there are things you can do to help your mood. There’s evidence that we feel more positive if we start taking note of small things that make us feel good.3 This can be anything from a pair of fuzzy socks to the smell of your favorite body lotion. When you’re happier, you’ll feel more motivated to take care of yourself.3

Our mood tracker can help you self-monitor how you’re feeling so you’ll be able to spot any long-lasting mood changes or patterns. If you find that your low mood lasts more than two weeks, and feel like you can’t get any enjoyment out of life, it might be time to talk to a healthcare provider.

6. Get practical help

You may not be able to head out shopping, but that doesn’t mean you have to go without. Use online delivery services and ask for your items to be left at your door for you to collect. When you order food, keep in mind that eating a healthy balanced diet will help keep your immune system strong, so include lots of fresh fruit and vegetables.4 If you need to, ask friends and family to lend a hand with delivering medications and supplies – just remember to stay at least six feet away from them if they come indoors, and have items delivered outside the door if possible.

7. Focus on Your Health

Quarantine and isolation are definitely stressful situations, and stress weakens our immune systems. It’s important to stick to your normal routine as much as possible. If you can, keep up with your normal morning alarm, bed time, and meal times. Take breaks during the day, especially if you’re working from home, to go into a separate room and focus on something else. Stay hydrated, move your body often, and keep close attention on how your body feels.

Self Care Options

Meditate

Many people begin their meditation practice by making small movements that feel good until they’re comfortable, and acknowledging every thought that comes into their head before letting it pass. Try YouTube or a meditation app for guided practices and advice from the pros.

Take music breaks


Listen with headphones or through your speakers, but enjoy yourself either way. Pick a few of your favorite songs and focus on them, then get back to your previous activity feeling uplifted and brighter.

Stay positive


This is easier said than done, but being positive takes practice. If you are posting on social media, let it be a positive message. Texting a friend? Spread good vibes. It can have a greater impact than you think. You cannot control how others act/behave, but you are always in control of yourself.

Get moving


Taking short walks outside (practicing safe social distancing!) or doing in-home workouts that raise your heart rate will release endorphins and improve your mood.

Express yourself

Journaling, drawing, painting, and other creative activities can help you relax and cope with being forced out of your normal routine.

References:

  1. Segerstrom SC, Miller GE. Psychol Bull. 2004;130(4):601–630. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.130.4.601
  2. Ma X, Yue ZQ, Gong ZQ, et al. Front Psychol. 2017;8:874. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00874
  3. Charlson ME, Boutin-Foster C, Mancuso CA, et al. Contemporary Clinical Trials. 2007 Nov;28(6):748-762. doi: 10.1016/j.cct.2007.03.002
  4. Marzieh Kafeshani. Immunopathol Persa. 2015;1(1):e04