Social distancing’s good for our physical health right now, but when it comes to our psychological wellbeing, many of us are struggling to cope with being alone.
Living in isolation and being apart from our loved ones for a long time is something most of us have never experienced before. It’s normal to feel stressed if you have to stay indoors and interact less with people, especially if you’re also worried about catching Covid-19. While it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you, these factors could increase your chances of developing a mental health issue such as anxiety or depression. When your brain recognises you’re disconnected and lonely, it sounds the anxiety alarm. You may experience an accelerated heart rate, sleep disturbance, emotional outbursts, and find yourself checking your electronic devices obsessively, desperate for a connection. So, how can you regain control?
Stay informed, but limit your consumption . Reading the latest news and health advice may give you an edge when it comes to protecting your mental health, which will, in turn, reduce the impact of loneliness. But consuming too much content can be overwhelming.
It’s easy to forget your physical and mental health are inextricably linked. Spending weeks in isolation, with no exercise, will have a detrimental effect on your ability to cope with loneliness.
Do something meaningful
Losing your sense of meaning makes you feel even more lonely. You may find you’re not just bored, but it’s also as though you’re losing your sense of self. Take advantage of the extra time to make positive changes or pursue goals you’ve been putting off. Acknowledging an unpleasant reality and how you feel about it helps to reduce stress, enables you to think of the best way to move forward, and manage your emotions more effectively.
Make sure you’re getting enough rest, mental and physical. Be mindful of physiological sensations associated with loneliness such as an elevated heart rate. Recognise these sensations as they’re happening and allow them to pass, which helps to neutralise them.
Find healthy distractions
Whether you enjoy reading, watching Netflix, or listening to music, indulge in soothing activities that interest you. Never drink alcohol to combat anxiety or depression.
Stick to a routine
Even though you have to stay at home, keep a regular schedule. Try to make your days feel as normal as possible to help break your seemingly never ending cycle of loneliness. These tracking systems help you feel proactive: start each day with a to-do list – just a few things, at first – jot down how you’re feeling and what you’re doing in a diary, and if you’re managing an illness, log your symptoms.