The pandemic changed the daily routine of most people. School and daycare closures, remote work, and physical store closures turned people’s lives upside down.

Just as stress levels rose, many also lost the ability to cope, due to not being able to reunite with loved ones. They can’t go to the gym. And they can’t do many of the fun activities that help ease stress. 

This is the perfect recipe for mental health problems.

So it is not surprising that researchers have found that quarantine can lead to an increase in mental illness.

Quarantine and decreased mental health

Individual reactions to quarantine vary, along with circumstances.

Someone who lives alone and continues to work from home will have a very different experience than someone who loses their job and has children who need help with school.

However, this does not mean that they will not experience a decrease in psychological well-being.

It is a common misconception that people are mentally healthy or mentally ill. But really, mental health is a continuum. And on any given day, we can go up or down.

Quarantine-related stress causes many people to experience a decline in mental health.

A  2019 study published in The Lancet  reviewed previous studies that evaluated quarantine and the impact it has on mental health. The researchers found that during and after quarantine, people often experienced an increase in:

  • Sadness
  • Numbness
  • Fear
  • Insomnia
  • To feel down
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Anger
  • Confusion
  • Post-traumatic stress symptoms.
  • Stress
  • Irritability
  • Emotional exhaustion
  • Emotional disturbance

In addition to the increase in mental health problems, substance abuse can also increase during and after quarantine.

The same study found that substance and alcohol dependence were more common up to three years after quarantines ended.

How to stay mentally healthy 

1. Empower yourself

If you see yourself as “locked in,” you will feel like a victim. However, if you tell yourself that you choose to stay home to help everyone stay safe, this will empower you. 

It will help you view quarantine as an opportunity (where you can read more books or learn a new skill) rather than a threat to your well-being. And a perspective like this can help you stay strong.

2. Find healthy coping skills

Think about the strategies you can use to manage your stress right now.

You may need to get a little creative if you can’t rely on some of your usual coping skills (like hanging out with friends). Find ways to relax, have fun, and enjoy life, like taking a virtual yoga class or watching a funny movie.

Just make sure the coping skills you use don’t create bigger problems in your life (which could happen if you turn to food or alcohol to make yourself feel better).

3. Connect with others

Whether you schedule a weekly video call with a loved one or text your friends throughout the day, stay connected with other people. Even on days when you don’t feel like you have much to say, reach out and say hello.

4. Stay active

Physical activity does wonders for your mood and mental health. Find some workouts that you can do from home. Physical activity is a powerful way to combat mental health problems.

5. Practice healthy personal care

If you don’t sleep well, eat well, and don’t take care of yourself, your mental health will decline. Making sure you take care of yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually is important if you want to function at your best. 

6. Seek support

If you feel stressed or have noticed a drop in your mood, seek professional help, Says Torrance eye doctor

Fortunately, you don’t have to wait for the quarantine to end to speak with a licensed mental health professional. You can get help from an online therapist in the comfort of your home.