With the practice of social distancing, COVID-19 has left many to be alone. Although many people are practicing communication through FaceTime, there is still a sense of loss. Social isolation is one thing we as civilization are dealing with. Astronauts or scientists, for example, have a small group they travel with and are away from home for a long time. Understanding loneliness can help us combat depression and develop coping mechanisms for this pandemic and for a lifetime.
You may have felt unprepared for this pandemic. Many of us are used to traveling, going out and visiting friends. To come to a sudden stop is anything but pleasant. Distracting yourself is a great way for alleviating loneliness. One of which is exercise. There are plenty of studies that show how exercise improves one’s mood. You don’t have to do it to lose weight. Do it for your mental health!
It’s normal for loneliness to lead to depression.Physician Researcher, Alexander Chouker studied stress immunology on participants who volunteered in simulated spaceflight missions. He stated, “The pure fact of being confined affects the body. If you change your environment in a quite extreme way, it is changing you.” More so, these participants were isolated for three month and experienced changes to their sleep, immune system and metabolism.
Loneliness can start to feel like cabin fever. A “fever” of when a person or group is stuck in an isolated location for a long period of time. It can feel like imprisonment.
It’s important to reach out and connect with those you barely see anymore. It helps to bring you a lot closer. However, writing a letter and including family pictures to your loved ones makes it extra special.
Plan Your Day. Start each day with a plan and keep a diary log of how you feel. Tracking your mood can help you become proactive and discover so much about yourself you didn’t know before. I have attached a Behavioral Activation worksheet to help you get started! This worksheet will help you engage in healthy activities and keep track of your mood. It can be as simple as calling a friend or doing the dishes. Decide when a task should be completed and any roadblocks you may be dealing with. You don’t need a therapist as it suggests but it’s good to have someone accountable.
Dance, Dance Dance! Sometimes we forget that our physical and mental health are one. There are many dance workouts or step by step instructions you can follow on Youtube. Just follow the rhythm: “Rhythm is a dancer, it’s a soul companion, you can feel everywhere!”
Do meaningful activities to regain purpose and identity. As I have said before, loneliness can bring a sense of loss. When you do something meaningful, it can metaphorically “bring you back to life.” So, ask yourself, what activity makes me feel complete? It can be joining online courses, such as Udemy or discovering long lost relatives through your family tree.
We are all different and some of us need to work with our hands in order to express how we feel. So if none of what I wrote is your cup of tea, try painting or writing.
Blog about your life experiences for others to read and relate to. Maybe start with one niche and then lead onto the next.
Write short stories. You will never know the power you have of writing your own story until you start writing. I’m telling you…it’s amazing!
Color a paint-by-number project! It’s so exciting!
Compile a family photo that you can share and send to your loved ones. Apps such as Free Prints, allows you to print 1,000 free photos! You only pay shipping and handling.
In part with this are adult coloring books. For some people, they relieve stress. For me, they cause anxiety as they take up the whole page of detailed patterns and I end up feeling dizzy. No joke! So, if you’re like me, try something easier. My client’s therapist taught her the dot method. This is where you “dot” the coloring book instead coloring it. Doing this helps alleviate stress by bringing focus and concentration to the page while listening to your favorite tunes. Speaking of tunes, listen to your favorite songs when you were a teenager. What do you reminisce about? What sights come up? What do you smell or hear?
Declutter your home! This is the perfect time to declutter and clean your home. I have attached a declutter checklist that might help you out. If you are having trouble coming up with projects, focus on the ones you can control and leave off what you can’t control.
Plan for your future. Even though it doesn’t feel it, this will all simmer down so it’s important to continue on with your life including your goals. You will be back to your usual routines. If it helps, make a bucket list or watch “The Bucket List” to live the most of your life.
Respect Yourself. Practice self-compassion for the respect of yourself and others around you. It may be hard to accept your emotions, yet accepting helps take away their power. Your feelings will change and so will your attitude.
In result, loneliness can make you feel trapped in your emotions. Fear not. The important thing is to distract yourself with activities you enjoy. Do more of what you love such as writing, painting or dancing. Accepting your emotions is a skill that can be practiced overtime. Bottom line, we all need closure and these are just a few ways to do it. Remember, the whole world is isolated. We are all going to get through this together. One for all and all for one.