You are not at the mercy of isolation. You do have tools to use and help.
According to research published in the American Medical Journal, loneliness is worse for your overall health than smoking or obesity. When it strikes and you don’t have some defenses against it in place, it can be a very difficult experience.
Here are a few ways some other people have gotten through their times of being lonely, and a few activities that you can engage in, both to keep your social skills honed and to combat the loneliness that is part of the isolation blues.
1. Leave the TV on if you are on your own. Movies or even the news (if it’s not too depressing), game shows, and soap operas will fill your space with the sound of other human beings. This reminds you that you are not so alone.
2. Make those Zoom calls a priority. If you haven’t seen your loved ones in a while, then Zoom is a godsend. Video calls have evolved from a business tool to a survival tool, and they are helping us stay connected with the people we love most. And it’s also keeping many people comfortably employed.
3. Take long walks. Walking is good for you on many levels. The exercise lowers anxiety and depression, and it’s nice to greet people as you pass. See how saying hello brightens your mood.
The spring blooms and animals you pass on your walk also can’t help but make you happy to be alive and available to experience this.
4. Get together with others outside your immediate family. Even if you are in a couple or part of a larger family, you may long for some social interaction with other people as well, and that’s pretty normal. We still get together with some folks, but we follow all the protocols to the letter. It’s not the same, but humans need one another’s company. It’s in our DNA.
5. Tend to your garden. We have developed a deeper relationship with ours. The house has always been adequately landscaped, but in the last couple of years we have started growing flowers and giving our pomegranate tree some extra love. What we get back is the gift of beauty and flavor and a sense of caretaking that is surprisingly fulfilling.
6. Get daily outside exercise. This has always been a must for my wife and dog, and it is now my go-to as well. If a client needs to see me in person, we do a walking or outdoor session. Being in nature and the fresh air can’t help but make things better, and it’s good for your body, mind, and psyche.
7. Help others in need. I try to help the people I can who are struggling with their survival during painful times. Sometimes I give money. Other times I give counsel, and upon occasion I am just there to listen.
Giving back makes me feel relevant. I’m grateful to be able to help others at a time when the world needs help more than ever.
Loneliness is no joke, and most all of us feel it at one time or another. If it goes on too long, it can become a lifestyle and that’s no way to live.
I hope these tips to deal with the isolation blues might make those times a little easier for you.
Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., is an award-winning therapist and humanitarian. He is also a columnist, the author of seven books, and a blogger for PsychologyToday.com with nearly 27 million readers. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears Sundays and Tuesdays in the News-Press.