Feeling lonely impacts your health

Posted on 31 January 2021

Feeling lonely impacts your health

Why and how you need to address your loneliness, Quarantine Fatigue and Pandemic Fatigue now

Feeling lonely is as bad for you as 15 cigarettes per day

You may have heard me say this before. This is the more digestible way of saying that loneliness leads to depression, cardiovascular disease and perhaps even dementia, all of which increase mortality [1].

Source: Public Health

Don’t worry too much though, you can do plenty about feeling lonely through lifestyle and behavioural change to prevent these long term health consequences.

Find out if your lonely feelings are causing you
Quarantine Fatigue and what you can do about it

Quarantine Fatigue and Pandemic Fatigue are real and you need to do something about it

The World Health Organization and leading healthcare systems including Cleveland Clinic, Mass General and Kaiser Permanente acknowledge that Quarantine Fatigue and Pandemic Fatigue are real and need to be addressed [2-5]. Symptoms vary for individuals but can include any of:

  • Irritability
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Eating more
  • Eating less
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Lack of motivation or productivity
  • Having racing thoughts
  • Or just being on edge in general

Given that it is a mixed bag of symptoms and varies in how it affects individuals, you need to figure out how it is affecting you and figure out appropriate strategies suited to your specific needs.

Think this could be you?
Take this assessment to see if you have Quarantine Fatigue

The pandemic, social distancing and remote working will be here for a while and therefore so will our lonely feelings and Quarantine Fatigue

Despite having a vaccine it takes time to roll out and for public health measures to take effect. For example, McKinsey estimated earliest US could reach herd immunity was the second quarter of 2021 [6]. This was before both the vaccines but also before the new COVID strains.

Source: McKinsey & Company

Your employer may even have committed to remote or flexible working long term already, in which case this is a way of life you need to get used to. It can certainly leave you feeling lonely but that is exactly why you need to figure out how it is affecting you and devise a plan to address it.

If you will be working from home long-term,
click here to learn how it is affecting you and how you can adapt

You need a holistic lifestyle approach to address your lonely feelings and Pandemic Fatigue

Again, you will have heard me say this before: 80% of the determinants of health are in your control [7]. Genes and biology account for 10%, but now we have understanding of Epigenetics and the Microbiome that shows your genes and biology are more in your control than we thought [8]. So that is 90% of your health that you can do something about!


Source: Advancing Health Equity in Minnesota

This is why in my work I address all of how you eat, move, think, sleep and your relationships. These are all your daily levers to improve your health. They are also inexorably intertwined - you cannot change one without changing another and the infographs below summarise these effects [9-11].

7 Fast Food Effects Pinterest crop 8 5

Sources: Healthline, National Institute of Aging; (tap images to expand)

We need to use all of these levers to combat the effects on our health of feeling lonely and Quarantine Fatigue.

Want to get your lifestyle in check to manage your Quarantine Fatigue?
Take this assessment to get your personal action plan

You are the author of your own health story, whether it is feeling lonely, Quarantine Fatigue or anything else

If you take more ownership of your health you will have better outcomes; hence there are 3 principles of Evidence-based Medicine: the research evidence, clinical judgment and your values as an individual [12].

Source: AHA Journals

The General Medical Council has made Shared Decision-Making a core part of guidance to doctors in the UK because the evidence shows that empowering you to actively participate in your health decisions increases your compliance with treatment plans and leads to fewer hospital visits [13].

Want to take ownership of your story and conquer Quarantine Fatigue?
Start here with our assessment


  1. Leigh-Hunt N, Bagguley D, Bash K, Turner V, Turnbull S, Valtorta N, Caan W. An overview of systematic reviews on the public health consequences of social isolation and loneliness. Public health. 2017 Nov 1;152:157-71.
  2. https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/335820/WHO-EURO-2020-1160-40906-55390-eng.pdf
  3. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/are-you-experiencing-coronavirus-quarantine-fatigue/
  4. https://www.massgeneral.org/news/coronavirus/quarantine-fatigue
  5. https://thrive.kaiserpermanente.org/thrive-together/covid-coronavirus/how-to-increase-joy-and-fight-quarantine-fatigue
  6. https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/healthcare-systems-and-services/our-insights/when-will-the-covid-19-pandemic-end
  7. Tarlov AR. Public policy frameworks for improving population health. Ann N Y Acad Sci 1999; 896: 281-93.
  8. Watson MM, Søreide K. The gut microbiota influence on human epigenetics, health, and disease. InHandbook of epigenetics 2017 Jan 1 (pp. 495-510). Academic Press.
  9. https://www.healthline.com/health/fast-food-effects-on-body
  10. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/infographics/emotional-benefits-exercise
  11. https://www.healthline.com/health/sleep-deprivation/effects-on-body
  12. https://www.ahajournals.org/cms/asset/41ca7304-8893-4136-9334-e3aed0fb8b51/180fig01.jpeg
  13. http://www.ehcca.com/presentations/readsummit2/hibbard_2.pdf

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