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COVID-19: Quarantine, Isolation and Lockdown

During the COVID-19 pandemic, you’re probably having to stay home and practice social distancing. This can make you feel all sorts of things!

Teen looking bored surrounded by a puzzle, xbox handset, book and ipad

Quarantine or physical isolation in your home has pros and cons

Some people might be cheering at the thought of cancelled plans and being able to stay home (we’re looking at you, introverts!)

Others (ahem, extroverts) might be dreading the long hours of housebound boredom.

There will likely be both positives and negatives of more time at home for most people (regardless of if they are introverts or extroverts).


Positives and negatives of being at home


  • Less time commuting to/from school or work
  • Likely to have more free time
  • More family time
  • Opportunity to try/do things you haven’t had a chance to do yet
  • Less stress/anxiety around outside of home activities
  • Uninterrupted Netflix binges


  • Financial stress

  • Limited socialising opportunities

  • Missing family and friends

  • Feeling lonely

  • Some people might have increased conflict at home

  • Cancelled events and plans, e.g. soccer training or your friend’s birthday

Not everyone is safe at home

We are physically distanced, not socially distanced. For some people, the increased time at home can mean they are less safe than when they were able to spend time elsewhere.

If you feel unsafe at home, please talk to the people you trust, and get in touch with support including Kids Helpline.

What makes self-isolating at home so hard?

Some of the self-isolating challenges you may face include:

Let’s explore a bit about each challenge and some ideas to help you turn it into an opportunity instead.

Limitations to freedoms

Being at home is great when it's a choice we make freely!

But our brain needs stimulation and variety. Limitations on travel, events and even our ability to eat out at restaurants makes it more difficult to seek new sensations.

Being able to have new experiences, like new foods, new travel destinations, new events, etc. is linked to wellbeing.

‘Sensation seeking’ is a personality trait that exists on a scale, which means everyone seeks new sensations at a different level of intensity.

How to cope

  • Use the opportunity to focus on something you wouldn’t normally get time for
  • Create new sensations at home
  • Use your imagination – it can take you anywhere!
  • Have a sense of humour, e.g. are you self-isolating, or ‘training for the role of professional gamer’?
  • Find the positives, e.g. research shows that too many choices can leave you dissatisfied and disappointed… and now you have fewer choices!

Our brain can be a bit scared of change

When it came to our ancestors’ survival, familiar things were safe, and anything new or different could be dangerous.

Changes to routine and dealing with the unknown can still really raise our anxiety levels!

This can be harder to address than other anxiety triggers because there’s so much we don’t know about how long this pandemic might last and what will happen.

In many other anxiety provoking situations, there are clear expectations around severity and duration, e.g. if you are anxious on planes, you know your flight will take 1.5 hours and that you can relax once you have landed.

There can be a lot of feelings of grief around change. It is normal and natural to grieve for the things you’re missing, or how life used to be.


How to cope

  • Give yourself time and space to grieve
  • Focus on what you can control
  • Be kind to yourself and others
  • Do things that connect you with the present moment, such as mindfulness exercises
  • Acknowledge the anxiety; it’s uncomfortable, but it’s ok to experience it
  • Distract yourself if you need a mental break
  • Set a ‘worry time’, where you are allowed to freely worry; but once worry time is up, patiently refocus your thought on other matters whenever they wander into worry territory



Social isolation and loneliness are different things, but both can be harmful to your physical health and mental wellbeing.


People are social creatures! 

People who feel lonely are more likely to experience more negative emotions, have lower levels of happiness and have a poorer quality of life.


Coping with isolation

You may not be able to physically connect with others, but you can still connect in deep and meaningful ways virtually. Check out this Instagram post for some ideas.

"Online school was difficult. When school went back for the start of Term 2, it was all online. I was pretty motivated and had high hopes for learning. And then I just kind of stopped online learning."

How to stay socially connected while physical distancing

Missing your friends? Check out this video for ideas to connect with friends virtually!

Boredom sucks!

It’s understandable that you miss things that fill you with excitement, energy and passion.

In one study, people left alone in a room with their thoughts preferred to give themselves an electric shock than sit there and think!

This shows how difficult boredom can be that people would choose a negative stimulation (pain) rather than have no stimulation at all.


Still bored? Why not check out our Insta page for something to do.

Coping with boredom

  • Think of the upsides – having time and space to be bored is great for creativity
  • Boredom can give you opportunities to have experiences and reach goals that might otherwise have been missed if you were busy
  • Use the downtime to reassess your goals and values or learn new skills
  • Find creative ways to do things that you enjoy or have meaning for you
  • Indulge in some daydreaming – it can be good for you!

Here’s how other young people told us they were coping with quarantine or lockdown

Best coping strategies
Best coping strategies
Best coping strategies
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If you’re feeling cooped up, talking with someone can really help

You’re not alone – support is always available.

If you are worried about novel coronavirus (COVID-19) or want to learn more about anxiety and how to deal with it, give us a call, start a WebChat or send us an email today.

If you need more information for other digital services and resources, check out Head to Health.

Wanna talk to people ✨just like you✨?

Join My Circle - the free, private, safe and anonymous social platform for 13-25 year olds. 

Sign up now to find your circle!

This content was last reviewed 07/04/2020

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