How COVID-19 Isolation Affects Mental Health and What to Do About It

It didn’t take long for most people to feel the effects of COVID-19 isolation on their mental health after restrictions began. Many restrictions took place suddenly. The interruption on daily life and routine understandably felt like a shocking disruption. And while there was certainly good reason for these restrictions and subsequent isolation, it has led to mental health issues for many.

Human beings are made to connect with and be around each other. We build our lives around social interactions: work, gym, coffee shop, restaurants, school events, travel. The need to isolate at home interrupted this natural flow of social and emotional support.

Understanding how COVID-19 isolation affects mental health and what you can do about it is important information.


Loneliness may be one of the first things you associate with COVID-19 restrictions. While isolation doesn’t have to lead to loneliness, it obviously does in many cases.

It’s easy to forget that loneliness can easily affect your mental health. Maybe you try to brush your feelings off and tell yourself that it’s not a big deal. After all, many people are in the same boat.

But when we feel lonely, we may withdraw into ourselves. Unhealthy thought patterns can develop that make us less likely to reach out, even if it’s just by text or by phone. The longer this goes on, the more likely loneliness is to grow into a full-fledged depression.

Be proactive in combatting loneliness. Force yourself to initiate contact with others, even if you don’t feel like it.

Lack of Routine

Depending on your situation, daily and weekly routines may have fallen by the wayside because of pandemic isolation. Losing a job, working from home, and having kids at home instead of at school often means a shakeup of daily structure.

When we get lazy about our routine, we start to feel unfocused and unmotivated. Small things like a shower, getting out of our pajamas, and having meals at regular times anchor us in normalcy. Keep this in mind if you feel like you’re not getting anything done.


Unending days of isolation can easily lead to depression. It’s easy to make the connection between depression and other mental health effects of the pandemic such as loneliness and lack of routine.

Left unchecked, what starts as mild depression can grow into what feels unbearable emotional pain. Keep careful tabs on your mood. Don’t hesitate to reach out for therapy. Most insurance companies will cover telemedicine appointments, including mental health counseling. And therapists have quickly adapted to provide distance sessions, which are proven to be as effective as in-person ones.


Feeling anxious about everything is understandable considering the pandemic. Your employment outlook may be uncertain. You may worry about your health or that of your loved ones. Like many, you wonder if life will ever feel normal again.

Isolation doesn’t help these feelings. It’s important to be proactive about things that lessen your anxiety. Limit how much news coverage you watch each day about the pandemic or other upsetting situations. Do what you can that’s in your control in your everyday life.

Physical Health

Our mental health is closely intertwined with our physical health. If you’ve been cooped up at home, it’s easy to assume that your activity level has decreased. Along with that, your consumption of food may have gone up.

Try to get moving, even a little. Exercise increases oxygen to your body, boosts feel-good endorphins, and provides more energy. It helps you sleep better and can even reduce your appetite. Don’t let the fact that you can’t go to the gym or group exercises classes neglect this important aspect of your overall health.

While we eagerly await the end of pandemic isolation, it’s vital to stay on top of our mental health in the meantime. If you’re concerned about your emotional symptoms, please reach out to my office to learn more at 203.800.9778. If you are having a difficult time finding a therapist that you can trust, we have put together a mini guide to assist you in this process. 

To receive a FREE copy of our mini guide, click the link below:

Soribel Martinez, LCSW, Owner of SMPsychotherapy

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