Coping with Loneliness While Practicing Social Distancing
March 23rd, 2020
As COVID-19 continues on, the general public has been advised to take multiple health and safety precautions to reduce the spread of the virus. Understandably, so. The goal right now is to flatten the curve, by staying away from others, staying home, self-isolating, quarantining, whatever you want to call it. It’s all a form of social distancing, the token term that experts are using to describe the process of slowing the coronavirus pandemic. A month ago, no one had even heard of that term before—social distancing—but now, we can’t go a day without hearing it on the news, seeing it on social media. So, what is social distancing exactly?
Social distancing is described as the conscious effort to avoid or reduce nonessential contact with others and staying home as much as possible to mitigate the spread of the virus. Epidemiologists believe that social distancing is crucial when it comes to slowing the rate of infection in the public.
And as social distancing becomes more and more of a widespread practice (which is a good thing!), loneliness and isolation become more noteworthy issues. We all know we’re doing our part to slow the spread, and we know it’s the right thing to do. That being said, social distancing is a difficult practice to implement. Period. Humans are naturally social beings and to take away an aspect of our daily life will surely affect us. The acts of social distancing and self-isolating can thus take a huge toll on many of us.
With the rise of widespread loneliness in the coming weeks as we all practice social distancing, it’s important to focus on our mental health and how we can combat our own loneliness. As of now, there’s no end in sight when it comes to social distancing and coronavirus, and it can be scary, there’s no doubt about it. But it’s up to us to instead focus on the positive and do what we can to feel less lonely. The following points are ideas for coping with loneliness while social distancing, adapted from an article by Juliana Breines of Psychology Today.
- Continue regular social contact with friends and family. – Virtual connection may not be as satisfying as the real, in-person thing, but it’s certainly better than nothing. The ability to have audio or video contact with those close to us can provide us with great support to combat feelings of loneliness or depression.
- Spend time outside. – While practicing social distancing of course! Being outside can be a great activity to help you ease your feelings of isolation. The fresh air and being in nature are also good for your physical and mental wellbeing.
- Exercise virtually with a class. – Exercising is a great distraction from loneliness and boredom. Taking part in a class, even if online, can simulate engagements and structure to combat isolation. And it goes without saying that exercise helps both our physical and mental health.
- Partake in engaging and mentally stimulating activities. – I have no shame in saying I love word searches, crossword puzzles, sudoku, and jigsaw puzzles! These are all great ways to keep your mind active and distracted from isolation. It is said that “absorbing tasks like these can induce flow, a pleasurable state of immersion and focus that can keep rumination and negative thoughts at bay.”
- Listen to music, sing! – Singing can be therapeutic. In Italy, isolation residents took to their balconies to sing with neighbors to boost spirits amid quarantine.
- Meditate. – Meditating can help you focus on your mind to promote healing and acceptance. It has been suggested that meditation can increase feelings of social connectedness. It’s also great for calming the mind and calming anxiety.
While we at Insight Wellness Center, recommend practicing self-care, we understand that sometimes it isn’t enough. Sometimes you need a little more help, and that’s okay. We provide therapy and counselling for loneliness, anxiety, stress, depression, and more. Our services have transitioned onto online therapy via our telehealth platforms, but our offices remain open for in-person sessions if and when they are needed. Call us at (925) 216-3510 or email us at [email protected] for more information.
Lauren Tortolero, MSc
Breines, J. (2020, March 18). 10 Ideas for Coping with Loneliness During Social Distancing. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/in-love-and-war/202003/10-ideas-coping-loneliness-during-social-distancing
Jennings, R. (2020, March 19). Isolation is hard. Heres how to feel a little less alone, with digital gatherings or just a book. Retrieved from https://www.vox.com/the-goods/2020/3/19/21183551/coronavirus-social-distancing-strategies-tips
Tiffany, K. (2020, March 20). The Dos and Don'ts of 'Social Distancing'. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2020/03/coronavirus-what-does-social-distancing-mean/607927/