Mental Health Check: Social Distancing, not Social Isolation

  • Posted on: 20 April 2020
  • By: Courtney Braggs

*This blog post does not provide medical advice and is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read in this article. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

Have you ever lost a game? Do you remember how hard it was to deal with that? For many, that may have been your first experience with loss.

In the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic, all around the nation and globe, people are grieving the loss of normalcy. As the situation continues, everyone is finding themselves somewhat stressed, confused, and uncertain. This pandemic is affecting nearly every aspect of our lives in a way that we could not have believed a few months ago. Our normal lives have been disrupted; work, school, worship services, recreational activities, and comforting weekend social gatherings are all out-of-bounds.

As we continue to socially distance ourselves with hopes of slowing the spread of the pandemic, we remain unsure about what could happen over the next few weeks or months. If you're an extrovert, you may feel like you're going stir-crazy while spending so much time socially disconnected from others. It is completely normal to feel anxious and uncertain during such an event.

Now, try to imagine how challenging it must be for those who are facing this level of uncertainty with mental illnesses. While we all are concerned about the future, the National Institute of Mental Health stated that "worry may be all-consuming for those with anxiety disorders, the concern that people are infectious may contribute to paranoia in those with Schizophrenia; and, for those with depression, the lack of social engagement and disruption in routines could increase symptoms." 

The onset of stress from an infectious disease outbreak can include:

  • Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
  • Worsening of chronic health problems
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs

How to support yourself:

  • Take breaks from the news. Set aside periods of time each day during which you close your news and social media feeds and turn off the TV. Give yourself some time and space to think about and focus on other things.
  • Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat regular, well-balanced meals; get some physical activity every day; give yourself time to get a full night’s sleep; and, avoid alcohol and drugs.
  • Make time to unwind. Try to engage in activities and hobbies you enjoy. Engaging in these activities offers an important outlet for pleasure, fun, and creativity. Find time to catch up on some reading.
  • Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling. Digital tools can help keep you stay connected with friends, family, and neighbors when you aren’t able to see them in person.
  • Set goals and priorities. Decide what must get done today and what can wait. Priorities may shift to reflect changes in schedules and routines and that is okay. Recognize what you have accomplished at the end of the day.
  • Focus on the facts. ​​​Sharing the facts about COVID-19 and understanding the actual risk to yourself and people you care about can make an outbreak less stressful.

Call your healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row.

Mental Health Apps to Download

Fabulous on the App Store
Fabulous on Google Play

Cover art

Calm on the App Store
Calm on Google Play

Cover art

Happify on the App Store 
Happify on Google Play



Headspace on the App Store
Headspace on Google Play 

Cover art

Moodpath on the App Store
Moodpath on Google Play​​​

Cover art

7 Cups on the App Store
7 Cups on Google Play






Read more

The extrovert's guide to social distancing

Protect your mental health during quarantine

What a coronavirus quarantine does to your body and brain, and how to cope

10 ways to cope with coronavirus anxiety, according to psychologists

How to take care of your mental health during the coronavirus pandemic

Resources for Those in Distress

In an emergency

Call 911

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Disaster Distress Helpline:

Call 1-800-985-5990 (TTY 1-800-846-8517)

Text TalkWithUs to 66746

Crisis Help line Text Home to 741741

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Find Help


More Information

NIMH Coping with Traumatic Events

NIMH Coping with Coronavirus

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Managing Stress & Anxiety