Managing stress during quarantine

Scientific Newsflash and Courses of Action


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Do you feel stressed or anxious or do you sometimes panic at the idea of being stuck at home for an indefinite period of time? If this is a normal feeling, how can it be alleviated? By recognizing and acting on the main quarantine-related stress factors.[1]


This initiative was made possible through a collaboration with the Université de Sherbrooke and is supported by the Chief Scientist of Québec, with the Fonds de recherche du Québec.

Étienne Fouquet

Étienne Fouquet is a PhD student in business administration (DBA) at the Université de Sherbrooke. His research deals with workplace behaviour.

The contents on a purple background are the doctoral student’s recommendations.

What is meant by…?


Separating and restricting the movement of people who have potentially been exposed to a contagious disease, thus reducing their risk of infecting other people.


Separating people diagnosed with a contagious disease from people who are not sick.


Protecting people from a threat to their safety by restricting them to a confined space, voluntarily or compulsorily.



The study revealed the main quarantine-related stress factors. If you recognize these stress factors in yourself, you are not alone. It is important to be aware of them to be better prepared to deal with them. Below are some recommendations to help support you.


Enduring an extended quarantine

The longer the quarantine, the more stress and psychological distress you may experience. A quarantine that lasts more than 10 days is more likely to lead to psychological distress.


Living with the fear of being infected

This fear is normal, but it is more prevalent in seniors, parents of small children and pregnant women.


Being frustrated or bored

Confinement, a change in routine and fewer social and physical contacts with others can lead to boredom, frustration and a feeling of isolation. These feelings may lead to stress and anxiety, as well as lifestyle changes (fewer opportunities to eat a healthy diet or to be active).


Having limited access to everyday consumer goods

Access to basic consumer products (e.g.: food or clothing) can be a big source of stress, especially when access to these products changes quickly (e.g.: sudden closure of some stores).


Worrying about finances

The loss or fear of losing one’s job or uncertainty regarding income or personal finances can lead to a feeling of loss of control or even to psychological distress.




Quarantine does not mean social isolation

Although quarantine requires us to stay home, it does not need to result in social isolation. It is essential to:

  • interact with your social network remotely via social media, by phone or even using virtual face-to-face communication apps;
  • communicate regularly with family and friends;
  • use available crisis lines.

Be careful about information overload

During periods of crisis and stress, you will want to stay as informed as possible, whether via social media or news networks. However, this desire to increase your feeling of control can backfire, as there is a lot of false or contradictory information circulating. Therefore, you can:

  • limit yourself to consulting the media sources that seem the most credible;
  • visit government authority and public health websites;
  • avoid searching for possible disease symptoms and trying to self-diagnose. It is better to reach out to a health professional to avoid causing unnecessary panic.

Focus on a healthy lifestyle

A healthy lifestyle is particularly important during a quarantine, because this will help you sleep better and protect you against disease-related risks.

  • Maintain a healthy diet: eating well will help you fight illness.

During a quarantine, lack of time is no longer a health killer. It may be worthwhile to take the time to cook.

  • Sleep well: during a quarantine, the desire to sleep may get the upper hand because you’re no longer following your usual routine. Some people may experience episodes of insomnia. A strategy to promote restorative sleep is to develop a routine; that is, to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
  • Stay active: it’s important to keep your body active, even during a quarantine. Physical activity improves sleep, fights stress and depression and improves your ability to deal with illness.

There are free virtual classes available online that require very little equipment and can be done at home.


Fouquet, E. (2020). Managing stress during quarantine, Global-Watch Scientific Newsflash, available at

Flash written under the direction of France St-Hilaire, associate professor of Human Resources at the Université de Sherbrooke’s School of Management.


Brooks, S. K., Webster, R. K., Smith, L. E., Woodland, L., Wessely, S., Greenberg, N., & Rubin, G. J. (2020). The psychological impact of quarantine and how to reduce it: rapid review of the evidence. The Lancet, 395(1), 912-920.doi:

[1] Summary of the main findings of a recent study.

Pierre Breton
Author: Pierre Breton