As the pandemic continues to unfold, many people are facing mental health issues. Even if you are venturing out into social situations, the vigilance that comes with having to be constantly aware of things like your proximity to others, whether you are wearing a mask, what you’ve just touched, and where your hand sanitizer is can take a toll.
Loneliness is relative to the individual, with loneliness being defined as, “the discrepancy between a person’s desired and actual social relationships.”1 For those who are experiencing a significant disparity between the social life they desire and the social life they actually have during the pandemic, I am going to explore some ways to combat those feelings of loneliness and improve mental health.
Build your self-care skills through Online Counseling in New Jersey
I now also offer Online Counseling in Pennsylvania, contact me to learn more.
Strategies for decreasing loneliness
1. Take a hot bath. A study found that taking a long, hot bath can help to create feelings of social warmth.2
2. Quarantine chat. This is a service that will connect you via phone call with other people in quarantine who are feeling lonely. Visit www.quarantinechat.com to sign up.3
3. Read a book. Research has found that a collective identity provided by a narrative can be psychologically rewarding and relieve loneliness.4
4. Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness can increase acceptance of the present moment, and acceptance can decrease perceptions of loneliness.5
5. Work with a therapist to explore underlying negative perceptions about loneliness, and work on skills to shift your perspective. A therapist can help you identify opportunities for socialization, as well as ways to address barriers to achieving social connection.
6. Get outside in a safe way. Low risk activities include walking outdoors, running, biking, and having a picnic. Keep in mind that you can spend time with other people, however it’s important to observe proper safety precautions while doing so in order to minimize your risk.
7. Use technology to connect with friends and family. Consider playing an online game together to add variety to the way you are interacting.
Why is it important to combat loneliness?
Feeling lonely can have serious consequences. For individuals who are alone or who feel alone, there is an association with suicidal ideation and behavior.6 Furthermore, exposure to feelings of loneliness over a long period of time can cause a person to experience extended fight or flight stress response, which can negatively impact immune function.7 Loneliness also increases your risk of experiencing cognitive decline.8
Sarah Tronco, LCSW, provides online counseling in New Jersey and works to develop a strong therapeutic relationship with her clients, which helps to create a secure place where individuals can achieve meaningful change.
Sarah Tronco, LCSW, now also provides online counseling in Pennsylvania, contact her to learn more.
Photo by Sasha Freemind on Unsplash