7 Ways Being in Quarantine Has Been Bad for Your Health

From drinking more to watching too much TV, this is how isolation takes its toll on you.

We can all agree that being stuck at home as the coronavirus pandemic plays out doesn't seem to offer a whole lot of obvious health benefits. With gyms closed, the fridge mere steps away, and having to manage all the added stress and anxiety brought on by the COVID-19 outbreak, you're not alone if you've noticed your health taking a hit during quarantine. But, just how detrimental is self-isolation to your overall wellness? Read on to discover what experts have to say about all the potential ways quarantine has been bad for your health.

You spend more time watching TV.

middle aged black couple laughing and eating popcorn on the couch

While it's nice to imagine that all that time at home is spent on active pursuits, that's often not the case. According to research from Global Web Index, 20 percent of individuals polled said they would likely continue watching more shows and movies on streaming services after the pandemic subsided, 20 percent said they would continue watching more videos in general, and 24 percent said they'd continue watching more news coverage. And if you want to separate truth from fiction regarding COVID-19, check out these 13 Actual Facts That Debunk Common Coronavirus Myths.

You spend more time on social media.

facebook app sign in

According to a 2018 study on the mental health effects of social media use published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, individuals who limit their social media usage are significantly less likely to consider themselves lonely or depressed than those who use social media without any time restrictions. Unfortunately, according to the Global Web Index data, 15 percent of those surveyed said they were likely to continue using social media for more time after the coronavirus outbreak is over.

You spend more time on apps in general.

Woman smiling and looking at cell phone

Whether you're playing games or swiping right on potential dating prospects, 10 percent of respondents to the Global Web Index survey indicated that they were likely to spend more time on apps after the pandemic subsides. What's so bad about that? According to a 2019 study published in JAMA Pediatrics, screen time can lead to an increased risk of depression among adolescents.

A 2019 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health even found that the more time college students spent on their smartphones, the less time they spent engaging in physical activity. And if you're eager to feel your best right now, check out these 23 Easy Ways You Can Be a Healthier Person During Quarantine.

You spend more time alone.

Woman sad and alone sitting on the couch

Humans are inherently social creatures, so for many people—especially those who live alone—being in quarantine can be seriously detrimental to their mental health.

"As adults, we continue to learn, but we also manage our emotions through communication," explains psychiatrist Jared Heathman, MD, who notes that isolated individuals are more likely to experience sadness and anxiety. "While communicating with peers is not counseling, it has tremendous therapeutic value," he says.

You eat more unhealthy snacks.

Potato chips

Since you're likely stocking up on foods that have long shelf lives, it can be hard to stick to a nutritious diet, according to nutritionist Lisa Richards of The Candida Diet.

"It is easier at this point in time to keep your pantry stocked with non-perishable snack foods like chips and crackers," Richards says, noting that these foods are often full of inflammatory substances that can be detrimental to your gut health. In fact, according to the Global Web Index, 12 percent of respondents said they were buying more chocolate since the pandemic hit. And for more ways to take better care of yourself, check out these 17 Mental Health Tips for Quarantine from Therapists.

You drink more alcohol.

Happy senior man drinking a glass of red wine during lunch. Old man enjoying wine with friends in background. Closeup face of active and healthy senior man tasting wine.

Ten percent of those polled by Global Web Index admitted to buying more alcohol since the quarantine started—even though drinking more comes with a host of negative side effects, including ones that impact your dental health.

"Just in the oral cavity area, [drinking alcohol] can cause dry mouth, tooth decay, and conditions as serious as cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx, and esophagus," says Mike Golpa, DDS, director of G4 by Golpa.

You have trouble sleeping.

Woman awake in bed can't fall asleep

Spending too much time indoors often makes getting a good night's rest all the more difficult. In fact, 2013 research published in Current Biology found a correlation between a lack of natural light and circadian rhythm disruption—which have been linked to everything from obesity to depression.

In addition, you may find that you're less motivated than usual. "If you are someone who had difficulty with motivation, you may have difficulty keeping yourself on a schedule without the regular routine of getting up and going to work or school," explains licensed psychologist Stephanie M. Kriesberg, PsyD.

Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more