Emotional ups and downs during isolation

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Robert Maurer
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Emotional ups and downs during isolation

The emotional ups and downs during isolation are a completely normal psychological reality. We must understand that it is currently impossible to feel good 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Written and verified by the psychologist GetPersonalGrowth.

Last update: February 18, 2022

Emotional ups and downs during isolation are normal and frequent. Many people experience mood swings throughout the day, going from motivation to despair, from calm to that anguish that pervades the stomach and creates turmoil in the mind. This is completely normal.



We don't have to put meat on the fire of the mind by wondering if we are suffering from bipolar disorder. This psychological condition, in fact, goes far beyond mood swings. What is happening to us, broadly speaking, is that we are exposed to an unknown situation, to an unexpected scenario to which the brain, body and emotions are reacting. All of this falls within the realm of the predictable.

Beyond what we might think, this context is not new to some people. Astronauts know isolation well. And so do the prisoners, who spend months and years in jail. There are children with immune diseases who live part of the time locked up at home and we cannot forget the researchers who spend months locked up in laboratories in Antarctica.

Lawrence Palinkas of the University of Southern California is one of the experts on these topics. His studies on psychosocial adaptation in extreme environments offer us important data to understand what we are experiencing in the present moment.

Isolation has a strong psychological impact, especially after 15 or 20 days.

Emotional Ups and Downs During Isolation: Why Do They Occur?

It could happen to wake up without energy or to open your eyes to a new day feeling disoriented at a temporal level, without even knowing for a few seconds what day it is. In a few moments the mind remembers our reality: the pandemic, the quarantine, the physical and social isolation and the uncertainty about when we will resume our life.



At breakfast we tend to have the first exchange of messages with family and friends. Let's think about what we will do today and this gives us a dose of energy and motivation.

As the hours go by and without knowing why, that mist appears that makes everything opaque and blurred. The soul is discouraged and sadness pervades everything. Why does this happen to us? Maybe we are developing a mental problem? Let's analyze some aspects to understand the reasons behind these emotional ups and downs during isolation.

Even if we try our best, we can't be well all the time

It doesn't matter how challenging our routine is. It doesn't even matter to be optimistic, to have words of comfort towards ourselves and others. All of us, we will live nightmare moments. And experiencing this feeling at some point in the day is completely normal.

We delude ourselves even just by trying to stay healthy 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. As depressing as it may sound, we will have to live with our negative emotions for some time. They will be like annoying roommates who come to visit us from time to time and that we will have to understand and assist.

Don't try to force other emotions: each of them has a reason for being there

When you feel discouraged or frustrated, don't try to avoid it, don't obsess about wanting to replace these emotions and trying to feel cheerful. The emotional world doesn't work like that. G.The emotional ups and downs during isolation are also a release valve for the brain. This social organ needs the everyday life as before.


Once such a drastic change is perceived, the next step is a wake-up call that results in stress and fear; in emotions regulated by our amygdala. Consequently, when these moods arise it is possible to confuse them with others.


It is necessary to accept them and, above all, to make sense of them: “It is normal for me to feel this way, it is a new and unexpected situation. I just have to try to prevent negative emotions from taking over. I accept them, understand them and let them go ”.

Look for channels to find mental calm

We are all suffering from emotional ups and downs in this quarantine period. Children, adults and the elderly, but there are some categories of people much more vulnerable.


Those who have experienced depression or suffer from a psychological disorder or mental health problem will find it more difficult to regulate these emotional states.

Emotional ups and downs

In case of mood swings it is important to be able to count on psychological, medical and social support, whether there is a support network near or far that can help. Putting aside these particular situations, in most cases, as we said, emotional ups and downs are completely normal and we can handle them. We can do it in the following way.

We must understand that beyond "negative and positive emotions" or "feeling good or bad", the secret is knowing what to do with these emotions. Clearly we can't feel good and be 100% productive, but we can stay calm.

This is possible by finding those channels that foster a good connection with ourselves. It is, metaphorically speaking, to keep the feet on the ground, the mind concentrated and the heart in balance.


Thus, activities such as talking to family members or friends that help us vent our emotions are always helpful. But also spending time on creative tasks that relax us, such as cooking, painting, modeling, writing, etc.

This is not the time to be productive, it is the time to take care of ourselves, to stay in "survival" mode. This requires opening the range of emotions that can visit us in the space of a day. Doing so will help us get through this experience successfully.

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