For many Americans, life has changed drastically in just a few days. Your work may have closed, events are canceled, and many shops and businesses have stopped or reduced normal operations. But many people who live alone are also about to face another concern: loneliness.
As the calls for social distancing increase across the country, you may be worrying about the days to come. If you live in an area that already has many cases of COVID-19, you may have already spent days or weeks at home with nowhere to go.
You may, at some point, start to wonder if spending some time with a few friends is really so bad. You might also believe there’s no harm in going out, if restaurants and bars in your state are still open, since you’re young and healthy and will only face mild symptoms if you even contract the virus at all.
This new coronavirus is a serious threat. No matter how lonely or healthy you feel, avoid giving in to the temptation to hang out in a group or go out to eat. You could easily spread the virus, if you have an asymptomatic case, or contract it and spread it to others, even if you don’t seem to sicken yourself.
Right now, it’s best to stay home unless you’re running a necessary errand, like grocery shopping or going to work if you can’t telecommute. But isolation can be distressing, especially isolation of an indeterminate length, and it’s possible social distancing will remain standard practice for some time. coronavirus and its consequences for you
Isolation and loneliness may challenge you, but know your actions will help keep you, and anyone else you might encounter, in good health.
SIGNS YOU’RE EXPERIENCING COVID-19 LONELINESS
It must be acknowledged: If you live alone, you’ll most likely experience some distress during COVID-19 social distancing, self-isolation, or quarantine. Extroverts, introverts, and everyone in between are bound to have some challenges coping with prolonged, enforced isolation.
Even if you ordinarily feel fine going without human contact for several days, you typically know you have that option available. But now you can’t read at your favorite coffee shop, meet a date for a drink, play group sports, or go to your game night. This interruption to your routine can make you feel somewhat at a loss.
Some people can cope with isolation fairly easily, but others have a harder time managing loneliness. Isolation can have a negative impact on mental health, if you don’t act to address it.
Look out for these key signs:
A low or depressed mood
Anxious or nervous thoughts
Frustration and irritability
Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
Loss of interest in your work or the activities you usually enjoy
WAYS TO BREAK THROUGH CORONAVIRUS SOCIAL ISOLATION
You can’t directly remedy social isolation for the moment. Social distancing plays an extremely important part in “flattening the curve,” or reducing the spread of the virus to make it possible for medical professionals to keep up with treatment.
But keeping your distance from friends and loved ones doesn’t mean you have to cut off contact entirely. In fact, the opposite is recommended: If you aren’t spending face-to-face time with loved ones, increasing your text, telephone, letter writing, and video chat interactions can help combat your loneliness.
Think of it as physical distancing rather than social distancing, and try these tips to stay connected:
Stay in touch with friends and family
Even if you can’t physically spend time together, prioritize the contact you can have: text messages, phone calls, FaceTime or Skype. Spending virtual “time” with the people you care about may not feel exactly the same, but it can still help counter the worst of your loneliness.
In particular, reach out to older relatives and loved ones who may not be able to set foot outside their house at all. Remind them of your love and affection and encourage them to follow isolation requirements for their own safety. This has the double impact of reducing isolation for you both.
Limit social media use
While social media apps can be a good way to connect with your network of friends and family, spending too much time on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram could make you feel worse. Seeing photos of people enjoying time with their family or roommates could increase feelings of loneliness, for example. Making posts that don’t get many comments or responses could also trigger feelings of anxiety or depression.
There’s no need to avoid social media entirely. Just stay aware of how it affects your mood and move on to a different activity if you start to notice a negative impact.