Psychological effects of isolation & tips on how to cope

by | Apr 20, 2020

During these uncertain, difficult and stressful times as we deal with the effects of social distancing and isolation, we may find ourselves struggling to cope as past routines, habits and ways of living are being changed dramatically and quickly.


Some of the Psychological effects, responses and reactions to the current pandemic may be:

The fear and anxiety of falling ill and dying

Fear of losing income, being dismissed from work and anxious about the future

Feeling powerless and helpless as we may not be able to protect our loved ones

Fear of being separated from our loved ones

Avoiding approaching health facilities due to the fear of becoming infected whilst in care

Feelings of boredom, irritation and being overwhelmed


Here are some practical and psychosocial tips on how to cope

Establish a routine to your day

Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media.

Follow information from reputable media sources, e.g. the World Health Organisation (WHO);  locally the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD); twitter:@HealthZA; Emergency Hotline: 0800 029 000 and Coronavirus Hotline: 0800 029 999 are a few resources you can access

Eat healthy, well-balanced meals, with healthy snacks

Limit alcohol and caffeine intake which can aggravate anxiety

Exercise regularly daily to help you feel good and maintain your health, try new exercise programs to get the body in motion, be creative as you find ways to exercise in confined spaces; get a massage (from a family member during lockdown)

Get plenty of sleep as our bodies need more sleep and rest when we are stressed

Take care of your body, take deep breaths, stretch, and/or learn to meditate. Take a time out to practice yoga which is a grounding and balancing form of movement.

Manage negative thoughts and I will talk more about this in my next blog

Make time to unwind, and do activities you enjoy

Connect with others, talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling and keep connected with a supportive network as maintaining social networks can foster a sense of normality and provide valuable outlets for sharing feelings and relieving stress.

Accept that you cannot control everything.

Laugh and make others laugh, perhaps join a laughter yoga program

Practice kindness and compassion for yourself. It’s okay to be you. You are enough

Seek professional for yourself if you feel an overwhelming nervousness, anxiety, a lingering sadness, or other prolonged reactions that adversely affect you.



The Psychological Association of South Africa (PsySSA), (March 2020). Psychology Practitioners, COVID-19 Resource Pack.
Johnson, S.L. (2004) (2nd ed). Therapists Guide to clinical Intervention. (Cambridge, Massachusetts). Academic Press
Manga, E. (2018): Breathe. (Johannesburg). MF Books
Sutton, R.(2018). The Stress Code. (Johannesburg). Pan MacMillan SA
Van Brakel, L. (2014) The Stress Management Workbook. (London). John Murray Press

Ashnee Kasseepursad is a Clinical Psychologist in private practice at Impact Therapy Centre, based in Fourways. Ashnee has worked in a variety of clinical settings and currently focuses on working with adolescents, adults, couples therapy, families and group therapy. She focuses on working with Anxiety, Depression, Adjustment issues, Relationship difficulties and Trauma/PTSD. She practices from an integrative approach, with therapy tailored to suit the needs of the client.