Social distancing and loneliness

Loneliness. With so many people being told to stay home and so many events canceled, it’s a pretty safe bet that people will be feeling isolated and alone. But even without a global pandemic keeping us apart, many of us still feel lonely.

We live in lonely times. The elderly are lonely. The teens are lonely. Both in cities and in rural areas, it’s now considered a public-health issue with physical health effects.

Sadly, 1 in every 10 of us Brits are lonely. More than half of folks over 75, live alone. Five million older people say the television is their main form of company.

Be it starting a new school, moving, divorce, separation, we all get lonely from time to time. Every so often, feeling lonely is situational and normal. But chronic loneliness harms us physically and mentally.  A recent study found that feelings of loneliness increase mortality risk by 26 percent.

Why do so many of us feel so lonely?

Even in the presence of other people you can still feel lonely.

Because loneliness is so common, it makes sense that there are also lots and lots of different reasons why people feel lonely. Here are a few of the main ones:

  • The Internet: Even as the internet can make us feel like we know more people, it can also leave us feeling lost and alone.
  • Feeling like an outcast. Perhaps we like different things than those around us. Being apart from the crowd, can make you feel even more lonely.
  • Being a carer. Looking after someone who is sick, disabled, or elderly can be a tremendous weight on your shoulders. Most people won’t know what you’re going through, so you may feel like you really can’t talk to anyone.
  • Mental Health. A lot of mental illnesses like bipolar, anxiety and depression can make people feel very lonely.
  • Disability. A range of physical disabilities, from blindness to being wheelchair bound, can sometimes make people feel like a burden or that no one around them cares.

So many of us already experience loneliness, so how can you stop feeling so lonely especially during social distancing?

YOU can help people (as well as your self) suffering from loneliness by reaching out.

Right now, we’re being told that the best way to interact with others is through virtual options. In order to overcome not experiencing in-person social interaction, we need to increase our online communication to make sure we don’t lose touch with family and friends. Video calls and phone calls can make you feel closer and relieve loneliness.

Especially with the less technologically savvy people in our lives, we may have to help them gain access to this technology and act as tech support.

How do we feel less lonely during social distancing?

You can still have face-to-face contact from far away! Have a digital dinner with someone you met on a dating app, a virtual happy hour with friends or a remote book club meeting.

More than a “thumbs up”. Instead of just clicking “like” on posts you like online, take the time to send a direct message or comment with a genuine compliment or expression of gratitude. When you’re scrolling through your feed, take a moment and write someone a few nice words. Don’t we all need a little extra kindness right now?

Find your tribe. Whether you’re a foodie or a bookworm, knitting master or video game queen… there’s a community out there for you. No matter what your jam is, there are tons of other people who adore the same thing as you. There are also virtual support groups that can help by those sharing similar experiences as you.

Be open. Whether it’s messaging or calling someone you’ve not spoken to in a while or reaching out to someone new, be open to sharing yourself with others. Because, like you, they might be feeling a bit lonely and lost right now too. Connection matters whether it’s right in front of you or miles away.

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What are some ways that you’re staying connected with loved ones far away? Are you feeling the effects of social isolation? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this... let’s talk about it on Facebook,Twitter, and Instagram

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