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Home / Advice / Isolation / How to Manage Loneliness during the Pandemic

How to Manage Loneliness during the Pandemic

By: Agapi Kapeloni

Updated: 01 April 2021

How to Manage Loneliness during the Pandemic

How to Manage Loneliness during the Pandemic

  

Agapi Kapeloni, BA, MA, MSc, MIACP

 

It has been over a year since Ireland went into its first lockdown. Although we have had occasional breaks from lockdown, because Covid-19 spreads mainly through social contact public health experts rightly continue to warn about the risks involved in meeting many people.

 

Since March 2020, the way we meet and greet has changed to a form that feels totally unnatural for many of us: no shaking hands, no hugging, no kissing, and keeping a 2-metre distance when in company. Significant life events such as baptisms, first communions, weddings, and even funerals, have been taking place virtually or, at best, in the presence only of immediate family members.

 

Many people now find themselves more alone than ever before, be it doing their daily routines or during the times which they want or need to share with others: times of celebration and times of grief.

 

Loneliness is among the most intensely felt consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic. It can lead to increased levels of stress and sleeplessness and is considered the principal cause of mental health issues such as anxiety and/or depression (which in turn may lead to eating disorders, self-harm or even suicidal ideation). The effects of loneliness can be serious and detrimental to mental health and general wellbeing. However, there are some helpful ways to help us all weather the current extraordinary times.

 

Social Interaction

Remember that social interaction is still possible by way of telephone/video calls, social media, online peer-support groups, etc. Be creative when it comes to finding ways of social connection. Think of what you can do, rather than what you can’t. Cinemas are currently closed but we can still watch a movie with friends online. Meeting a friend at a café or a pub is presently out of the question but a socially distanced meeting in the park is still possible. Focus on getting in touch with people regularly. Ideally, try doing it each day.

 

Enjoyable Activities

Think about doing things you enjoy. Doing fun activities (even by ourselves) can take our mind off the feelings of loneliness we may experience and give us a lot of satisfaction. Immerse yourself in a book: reading helps us escape reality in a healthy way. You might like to start a new hobby or learn a new skill – maybe a language you always wanted to learn or a musical instrument. There are a lot of online courses and tutorials, which can be done at the time and frequency which suits you best. Whatever you choose to do, practice learning to enjoy your own company, which in and of itself can be liberating.

 

Exercise

Exercise is important for maintaining mental and physical health and can take place outdoors or indoors. Do exercise you particularly enjoy. And make sure you do it at a rate which is sustainable. You do not want to feel that your chosen activity becomes a ‘chore’.

 

Helping Others

Helping others can boost our mental wellbeing. For example, getting in touch by text, mail or telephone with a lonely relative, friend or neighbour to see how they are managing or offering to pick up something from the shops for them is beneficial for them and you. Remember that the older members of our society tend to be among the most affected by loneliness, not least, though not only, because they are particularly vulnerable to Covid-19.

 

Maintain a Daily Schedule

Having a schedule of daily tasks will help with dealing with feelings of loneliness. Always try to include preparing healthy daily meals in your schedule so that you keep yourself well-nourished. Good food will boost your immune system and your brain, contributing to better mental health.

 

Note what is Helpful

Keeping an eye on what helps with the feelings of loneliness (and what doesn’t) may be beneficial. For example, you may need to reduce the time you spend watching the news; or, you might try focusing on yourself rather than comparing yourself to others. If social media posts make you feel that you are the only one struggling, be careful which posts you choose to see and engage with – and keep in mind that most times people post only the positive aspects of their lives, not the challenges that they may be facing.

 

Finally, remember that it’s okay not to feel okay, even in normal times. And it is particularly okay not to be okay in these extraordinary times. So be kind to yourself when feeling lonely. And remember that, ironically, you are not alone in feeling lonely: a lot of people are feeling just as you do in these challenging times.

 

If you have tried some of the above tips and still find that loneliness impacts you in a way that is too hard to bear by yourself, you may need to contact your GP and/or try talking to a qualified mental health professional.

MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS WORKING WITH Anxiety ISSUES:

Zoe O'Brien Psychotherapist Location: Dublin 8

Approach: Gestalt Therapy , Humanistic & Integrative Psychotherapy , Psychodynamic Therapy , Person-Centred Therapy

Works with: Individual Session

Specialities: Addiction , Anxiety , Bereavement , Depression , LGBT , Personal Development , Relationship issues , Self-Esteem , Sexual

Next avaialble appointment: 17:00 28 April 2021

Lyndsey Connell Psychotherapist Location: Online

Approach: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) , Person-Centred Therapy , Solution-Focused Brief Therapy , Systemic & Family Therapy , Psychodynamic Therapy

Works with: Individual Session

Specialities: Anxiety , Bereavement , Depression , Personal Development , Self-Esteem , Work Issues, Work/Life balance

Next avaialble appointment: 11:00 24 April 2021

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