According to our calculations we should be coming up on the holidays right about now. At least Halloween. To say the first half of the year has been long would be a tremendous understatement. And while we’ve gotten used to giving ourselves our own mani/pedis, juggling working from home with Sesame Street blaring in the background, and picking up everything curbside, perhaps the hardest part of all is being isolated from our best friends and beloved family members. We thought it was tough skipping out on girls’ nights in March, now it’s almost becoming unbearable. And hugs from family! Remember those? If you’re struggling with the isolation that comes from an effort to contain the global pandemic COVID-19, ironically, you’re not alone. Women everywhere are suffering from a feeling of hopelessness and isolation. I felt the need to address this and want to talk to you today about the importance of taking care of your mental health and how to overcome loneliness during this unprecedented time.
The Shocking Effects of Loneliness
Even after our two-year-old has thrown his fifth tantrum of the day before 9am, most of us wouldn’t consider smoking 15 consecutive cigarettes. Yet, according to the Health Resources and Services Administration loneliness and isolation can be equally damaging to our health. Scary enough, loneliness is known to cause chronic inflammation, a condition which significantly reduces our ability to fight viruses. Not only does isolation impact the immune system but it increases blood pressure and raises the probability of depression. Getting loneliness under control is key to better physical and mental health. Fortunately, it’s easier than you may think.
Utilize Technology to Connect with Family and Friends
If you work remotely you know just how easy it is to have a Zoom conference. Most businesses are relying on this form of technology to bring employees together for meetings nearly every day. But there’s no reason to reserve Zoom just for work. Utilize technology for fun, too!
- Schedule a girls’ night or dinner with family and send out the invitations. Unlike attempting to schedule an evening with friends pre-pandemic, chances are nobody is doing anything anyway and they will be able to make it.
- Have fun by telling everyone to bring their dinner and a glass of wine, then log on and let the fun begin. Seeing everyone’s smiling faces and enjoying hilarious conversations will feel just like old times. It can make all the difference. And hey, your best friend’s unique laugh is just as endearing whether you’re sitting next to her at a restaurant or if it’s streaming over the internet.
- Have a movie you’ve been dying to see with your friends? Pop some popcorn, grab the M&Ms, and plan a Netflix Watch Party. Now you can watch movies together, apart.
- Utilize Houseparty the next time you want to chat with friends or family. It’s a much more personal way to connect than the phone. , consider using FaceTime or video chat instead of a voice call. Check up on loved ones regularly with random texts to say hi or to share something fun that might make their day.
- Take advantage of social media, especially platforms like Instagram and Facebook that offer live streaming. Facebook now offers chats in Facebook groups, which can be great for bringing a lot of people together at once.
It can be extremely comforting and less isolating to see pictures and videos of friends and family. Seeing how the people you know are handling social distancing can make you feel more connected. Social media is also a fun way to see how celebrities and the famous are handling our new world as the pandemic remains the great equalizer for all of us.
Here Are Some Fun Things To Try
If you’ve ever wanted to try an online course or take up a new hobby like knitting or oil painting, now is the time. Because our social lives are severely limited, we have more time than ever to focus on ourselves. And with a myriad of online classes, the possibilities are endless. There are numerous courses available to help you increase your knowledge and expand your skills. Many are free or at a very reasonable price. Learning something new is a great way to fill some down time and prevent feelings of loneliness, sadness, and isolation.
While you’re at it, set some new goals. The extra downtime has made many women reevaluate what they want out of life. Whether it’s to run a marathon next year or start their own side hustle, setting goals and making waves to reach them can be empowering. When you’re focusing on improving your life, you will be less likely to think about the negatives of your current situation.
Boost Your Immune System
Since loneliness is known to cause health issues, be diligent about boosting your health. Try to exercise every day, eat well, go outside for some fresh air (safely and socially distant, of course), stay hydrated, and take your vitamins. You can manage your anxieties and stress levels by trying some guided meditation or yoga classes online. YouTube is full of some really great ones with expert instructors. Watching a favorite movie, reading a good book, and listening to upbeat music all have been known to reduce anxiety.
Maintain Structure in Your Day
It’s been a few months, so you probably have some kind of routine by now. There’s no doubt that your previously busy calendar came to a screeching halt when the pandemic first appeared. The lack of social activities and cancelled events can leave even the strongest woman with feelings of lost purpose. By maintaining structure to your day such as keeping wakeup times, bedtimes, and mealtimes the same, you can stay motivated and energized throughout the day. If you are among the many who are having difficulties with feelings of insomnia, restlessness, sadness, and demotivation, you can combat these issues by setting a schedule to help keep your body clock on track. Plan your day the night before or set up a schedule for the entire week to fill your life with meaning and to fight feelings of depression.
Seek Professional Help
If you are still feeling extreme sadness, depression, and as if quarantine isolation is unbearable, it might be time to seek professional help. Online therapy is a great way to receive the help you need in the safety and comfort of your own home. Telemedicine is gaining traction, and for good reason. Virtual therapy is transforming the stigma of professional therapy. Each year millions of Americans struggle with mental illness. Yet for reasons such as stigma, cost, and scheduling, more than half do not seek the help they need. Meeting with a professional therapist can easily be done through video, text, and/or audio calls to discuss your emotions and improve your mental health. A few options include:
Know That Everything Will Get Better
Remember when you couldn’t buy toilet paper anywhere? That was scary! Walking into the grocery store and seeing empty shelves made it feel like the apocalypse was near. But in most areas of the country, it’s not like that anymore. Sure, you may have to swap out some particular items for similar ones, but hey, at least you can find hand sanitizer now. The point is, things are getting better. Eventually we will be able to hang with our friends in person and hug our senior family members again. We’ll be able to see our favorite band live in concert and eat way too much calamari at our preferred table at that delicious local restaurant. Until then, girl you’ve got a Zoom party to throw and some serious work to do if you’re going to reach your goal of becoming mastering Tiramisu. Hang in there, babe. We’re all in this together.
Hope You Enjoyed the Read!