You can increase socialization through platforms such as FaceTime, Zoom, Skype.
Social isolation, loneliness, and anxiety
Feeling lonely and anxious during the COVID-19 pandemic has become more prevalent due to the social distancing and self-quarantining restrictions. Uncertainty of the coronavirus outcomes causes anxiety, fear, and stress. Loneliness studies show it leads to poor physical and mental health, cognitive decline, heart disease, depression, excessive food, and alcohol use, and even cancer mortality. According to Scientific America, loneliness can lead to a premature mortality rate of reducing a person’s life by 15 years, which is equivalent to the impact on obesity or smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
Loneliness and anxiety don’t only affect the elderly or singles but also the Gen Z generation (ages 7-22), and millennials, who primarily use texting, social media for communication, are feeling the effects of loneliness. Different groups feel the impact of isolation depending on their circumstance:
• Families who are suddenly facing time together under one roof. Includes parents feeling isolated and alone as they try to hold down everything together, including homeschooling children due to school closures, working from home due to work from home requests, in addition to their typical household duties.
• Young adults who are suddenly living in their childhood home with their parents after years of living independently.
• Couples (retired or working) who are isolated from their daily routines of gathering with friends.
• Singles who live alone
• Those who suffer from chronic illnesses, immunocompromised patients, and elderly populations who can’t physically leave home.
Socialization is considered crucial for your well-being and positive interactions with others. How many times have you noticed in the last few weeks that you wave enthusiastically to strangers as you pass them on your daily walks? You look out of your home office window at every car passing by, hoping for some socialization. Many situations have alerted our mental state that we want a connection with others. For example, discussions with people who are near retirement have decided they aren’t quite ready after living through the COVID-19 pandemic. They miss their working relationships, water cooler talks, and lunch meetings. Or college students who dreaded heading to the classroom suddenly yearn for socialization on campus. People are longing for a trip to the community coffee shop with friends or even strangers. One can only Marie Kondo their home, read so many books, binge on Netflix, for so long while trying to keep their sanity.
There is hope! Below are some useful strategies to use during this time.
• You can increase socialization through platforms such as FaceTime, Zoom, Skype.
• A neighborhood phone tree can help to check on those who are isolated, don’t have technical skills, or can’t leave their home for grocery shopping, daily walks, or a pharmacy run.
• If you feel you need help, we are fortunate that telepractice has expanded to treat you in your home. This article explains in detail how to see a doctor without leaving your house: www.syracuse.com/coronavirus/2020/03/coronavirus-tips-how-to-see-a-doctor-without-leaving-your-house.html
• The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation offers free virtual therapy for mental health: borislhensonfoundation.org
During this time of uncertainty, it is normal to feel stress, anxious, or alone. Keep in mind, even though you feel isolated and alone, someone is willing to listen and talk. Reach out to a professional if you need help or to a friend for daily socialization.