How to Cope with Loneliness During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Verywell /  Alex Dos Diaz

You'll find many of these same suggestions (and more) within our Distractions and Tools pages.

Excepted article from www.verywellmind.com, written by Arlin Cuncic

Are you unsure how to cope with loneliness during the coronavirus pandemic? You could be self-isolating because you've caught the infection, but there are many other reasons why you've elected to stay indoors.

Stay Active

While it's easy to focus exclusively on how to manage your mental health and loneliness directly during a crisis, we sometimes forget that our physical and mental health are delicately intertwined.

If you spend 14 days of isolation not getting any exercise, this will have a detrimental effect on your ability to cope mentally. Below are some ideas of at-home activities that you can keep doing to stay active.

  • Practice Tai Chi, yoga, or at-home low impact workouts by following Youtube videos

  • Go for walks around your neighborhood (or walk on a treadmill if you have one and are concerned about going outside)

Do Something Meaningful

Another contributor to feelings of loneliness can be a loss of sense of meaning. If you are finding that you feel not just bored, but also as though you are losing your sense of self, then a loss of meaning might be affecting you.

All of us want to feel like we belong and that our life has importance, which is why incorporating meaningful activities into each day is important. Doing something meaningful each day, even if only for a short period, will give you a sense of purpose and identity.

Only you know what will create meaning in your life, but below are some ideas to get you started:

  • Sign up for an online course and do a bit of work each day

  • Create a family tree using genealogy websites

  • Sign up to be an online volunteer through the United Nations

Connect With Others

Perhaps the best thing you can do to combat loneliness during this period of isolation is to connect with others in non-traditional ways. While you may not be able to visit with family and friends in person, that does not mean that you cannot connect.

Family & Friends

Can you think of any out-of-the-box ways to stay in contact with friends and family? If you are comfortable using technology, there are numerous ways you can stay in touch. If you prefer more traditional ways of communicating, there are still options for you. Below are some ideas to stay in touch with your loved ones.

  • Send a handwritten letter or postcard

  • Call someone on the telephone (particularly on days you are feeling lonely)

  • Place calls using video chat services like Facetime or Zoom

  • Post on social media or respond to other's posts on social media

  • Stay in touch by texting or instant messenger

Online

In addition to staying in touch with family and friends, you can also combat loneliness by participating in online exchanges with other people around the world. These don't need to necessarily be your online "friends," but rather those with whom you share something in common and you communicate online.

Below are some examples of online connections that you can make.

  • Joining and participating in Facebook groups about topics you are interested in

  • Signing up for online forums about your hobbies or interests

  • Joining and playing Multiplayer games such as Wordfeud

  • Signing up for online sports games like Fantasy Football

  • Joining QuarantineChat, a service specifically set up to help people connect during quarantine

Find Sources of Comfort

Finding ways to give yourself comfort even when you are feeling lonely can help to improve your mental health. Below are some ideas of "comfort measures" that you can take even if you are alone.

  • Give yourself a foot massage or use a foot spa

  • Take a bath

  • Focus on your pet

  • Cook healthy comfort food

  • Watch favorite TV shows or read favorite books

  • Have a cup of herbal tea (chamomile will help you to relax)

  • Light scented candles (lavender will help to reduce stress)

  • Practice sleep hygiene to make sure you are getting enough rest

Create Something

There's a reason why artists enjoy becoming swept away by their work. Expressing yourself through creative means can be therapeutic, whether it involves painting, writing, dancing, etc.

 

If you're finding it hard to express what you are feeling, channeling your feelings into creating something can be cathartic. In addition, when you create something you enter the "creative magic zone," which can be a form of meditation in itself.

Below are a few lists of projects that you could try.

Writing Projects

  • Practice writing in a journal each day

  • Take up hand lettering or calligraphy

  • Start a daily blog journaling your experiences for others to read

  • Write poetry or Haiku

  • Write short stories or start the novel you've always wanted to write

Art Projects

  • Complete a paint-by-number project

  • Start a needlework, knitting, or crochet project

  • Compile a photo album that you can share later with others

  • Work on an adult coloring book

  • Take up a new hobby like jewelry making

  • Take up origami

Home Projects

  • Choose a space in your home and start an organizing project

  • Choose a room in your home and redecorate by moving things around or moving things from other rooms

If you're having trouble coming up with projects, focus on the ones that you can do with what you already have on hand. Most of us will have a notebook, paper, printer, and access to the Internet.

Using those few basic tools, you're sure to find something online to get you started. You could even focus on culinary arts and focus on cooking or baking projects.

Distract Yourself

Another way to boost your mental health is to find healthy distractions. This might come in the form of reading, watching shows, listening to music, or finding other activities that interest you. Below are some ideas to help.

Read

  • Go back and re-read some of your favorite childhood books

  • Join an online book club like the ones at Goodreads

  • Give yourself a reading challenge by choosing a list of books you've always wanted to read or a list based on a theme (e.g., books all set in places you've always wanted to visit)

  • Read books of poetry if you find it too hard to concentrate on longer books

  • Read magazines on topics that interest you

  • Listen to audiobooks through services like Audible or Scribd if you struggle to read or have vision problems

Watch TV/Movies

  • Watch TED talks on Youtube about topics that interest you

  • Watch a series of movies on a theme (comedy movies will help to ease your stress)

  • Watch a television series on Netflix

  • Watch documentaries on topics you've wanted to catch up on

  • Listen to podcasts on topics you like

Create or Listen to Music

  • Go back and listen to your favorite songs from when you were a teenager

  • Create a playlist of happy songs and listen to those

  • Plan an instrument such as the piano or guitar

Other Fun Ideas

  • Take a virtual tour: Many museums offer digital access to their collections including the Louvre and Guggenheim

  • Play games that engage your mind such as Sudoku, crossword puzzles, solitaire, or online chess.

Plan for the Future

While it might feel like this loneliness will last forever, there will come a time that you'll be back to your usual routines. One way to feel less alone now is to make plans for the future or do things that help you to focus on the future. Below are some ideas.

  • Make a "future list" of all the things you want to do

  • Order online and plant some spring bulbs

  • Plan a fun event for when you are out of isolation

  • Make a bucket list of things to do in your lifetime

  • Make a "goals" list for some area of your life

Practice Self Compassion

Most importantly, practice self-compassion during this difficult time. If you find yourself saying things like "I shouldn't be feeling this way" or pushing away difficult emotions, this will only make your loneliness persist.

Instead of resisting your feelings, instead, find ways to be accepting of them as coming and going. This helps to take away their power and ease your unhappiness.

Remember that your feelings will change. If you are still struggling, try practicing guided meditation following a Youtube video.

Show Compassion to Others

It might seem counterintuitive, but if you are struggling yourself, sometimes offering help to others who are feeling lonely can make you feel less lonely yourself. Make a phone call, send a text, send a letter, or comment on someone's social media posts. Be supportive and offer words of encouragement.

Coping as an Older Adult

Older adults (aged 65+) may be particularly susceptible to loneliness during coronavrius. This group is most likely to self-isolate due to fear of infection, while also potentially having fewer supports in place to feel less lonely. The Baby Boomers, in particular, may be the most affected by this pandemic. Older adults can stave off loneliness during this time in the following ways:

  • Make phone calls to relatives on a regular schedule, so that they can check in with you and learn about your needs.

  • Ask for help from family members when you need it and be specific about how they can help.

  • Check to see if your community offers specific shopping hours for seniors so that you can shop for food during low-risk times when absolutely necessary.

A Word From Verywell

If you find yourself with very poor mental health while isolated during coronavirus and aren't able to pull yourself out of feelings of anxiety, depression, or fear, it is important to reach out for help. Consider calling a crisis line or an online therapy service to find out about options. While it's normal to feel afraid and lonely at a time like this, worsening mental health could indicate the need for outside help.

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