Seven Ways to Cope with Loneliness During the COVID-19 Pandemic
For most of us, COVID-19 upended our routines and demanded that we quickly adapt to a “new normal”. Social distancing is a vital part of the strategy to deter the spread of the disease but it can exacerbate feelings of loneliness.
So what is the best way to get through this period of isolation? There are actually a number of strategies that can effectively boost mood, outlook and overall well-being. Here are seven simple steps you can take to alleviate feelings of loneliness during this public health crisis.
1. Maintain connection with others.
Meeting up in person may not be possible right now, but you can still stay in touch with your friends and family. If you have the technology to do so, set up group video chats on Skype or a similar platform. Share jokes, pictures and updates on Facebook. It’s also a great time to get in touch the old-fashioned way, too, so don’t be afraid to pick up the phone. Just hearing a friend's voice can help reduce loneliness and make us feel more connected. Strive for at least one of these interactions per day, whether it’s with a relative, pal, neighbor or colleague.
2. Stick to a schedule.
One of the best things you can do to fight loneliness is to create a new normal by following a schedule. For example, if you are accustomed to going to the gym before work, wake up early and get an at-home workout or brisk walk in before you start your workday. Build in time for meals and short breaks as you would during a normal workday at the office. Maintaining as much normalcy as possible with your daily routine can help lift your mood and prevent boredom and distress from taking over. It can also help make the days feel productive rather than long and tedious.
3. Seek out sources of comfort.
Finding ways to give yourself comfort even when you are feeling lonely can improve your mental health. Some "comfort measures" that you can take even if you are alone include:
- Giving yourself a calming foot massage
- Taking a warm bath
- Cooking nutritious comfort food, such as soup or your favorite meal
- Watching funny TV shows or movies
- Lighting soothing scented candles, such as lavender or vanilla
4. Take a walk.
Weather permitting, get outside a few minutes every day to enjoy some fresh air and sunlight. For an added mental health boost, spend time in nature. Even taking some laps around your own yard or walking through your neighborhood will help.
5. Practice self-care.
Stress reduces the immune system's ability to fight off antigens, leaving us more susceptible to infections. Now more than ever, it is important to take care of yourself. Strive to get seven to eight hours of sleep each night. Eat a nutritious diet and drink plenty of water. Avoid risky or destructive behaviors, such as abusing alcohol or ignoring public health recommendations.
6. Learn something new.
Boredom allows the brain to manufacture negative thoughts, which can increase feelings of loneliness and isolation. Instead, occupy your mind by learning something that has always been of interest to you. Many companies, schools and organizations are offering great, free classes and tutorials. Interested in learning a new language? Check out DuoLingo’s free language classes. Or, you might unleash your inner artist by diving into the world of photography, writing, and poetry with free classes from Coursera. Whatever your interest, now is a great time to pursue it.
7. Practice gratitude.
Taking time each day to write down the things you are grateful for has been proven to lower stress levels and can create a more positive mindset. Even in the most challenging situations, there are things for which to be thankful if you look for them.
This too shall pass. Keep in mind that this situation, despite its trials, is temporary. There is an end in sight, and how we get there depends largely on the steps we choose to take each day.
As we navigate the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, please know that you are not alone. The caring professionals at Vaughn Greene Funeral Services are here to serve you 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Please reach out to us anytime.
About Vaughn Greene Funeral Services: For more than 20 years, Vaughn Greene Funeral Services has been providing a ministry of care to Baltimore’s African American community. As a leading local, minority- and family-owned provider, we promise to provide our highest level of service and respect to families who entrust us to honor their loved one. For more information, please call us at 410.655.0015 or visit us online at https://vaughncgreene.com/.