Social isolation can sound like an introvert’s paradise. Unfortunately, that’s simply not the reality. Human beings are naturally social creatures. As such, even the most withdrawn individuals need social contact occasionally – and that need is even worse for extroverts!
It’s easy to feel lonely and afraid when you must separate from the rest of the world. Here are five ways to fight loneliness during social isolation.
1. Keep Yourself Wisely Up-to-Date
Self-isolating is necessary to keep ourselves and our loved ones saved in this pandemic, but it comes with the side effect of a lack of contact. This, however, can make loneliness crippling – especially for those of us who are already surrounded by strangers. Here are a few ways to combat this:
· Check The News During Social Isolation
No matter how much positive thinking you engage in, it is easy to feel helpless in these trying times. A recent 2020 study, however, showed that staying updated on the latest precautionary advice and health information can help with your mental resilience and functioning.
· Connect Socially
It can be easy to feel dissociated and disconnected when you can’t check in on your loved ones, much less when the streets are empty, and you’re physically alone. Instead, do your best to check in on friends and family – either via calls, text, or only just seeing their life updates on social media.
· Know Your Limits
With just how much information there is waiting to assault you from the moment you turn on your phone, it is easy to find yourself overwhelmed. Even worse is when most of this news is harmful. In such cases, it’s best to curate your feed and take breaks as needed.
2. Engage Your Mind With Activities
Loneliness can be crippling if you do not occupy that space and silence – no matter who we are or when it happens. During such moments, the best way to combat it is to fill it up with activities that truly engage our mind and senses. (Mindless activities, after all, don’t serve very good distractions either.) Here are a few ideas you can try:
· Sing Along To Music You’re Listening To
There’s something incredibly enjoyable about singing along to the radio while dancing in the kitchen or driving in the car. As it turns out, that enjoyment is now backed by science! While plenty of studies have shown that singing in a group (for example, as part of a choir) can be therapeutic, a study has also shown that these therapeutic benefits still come into play when you’re singing along to a pre-recorded song.
So turn up the volume on Spotify, or watch one of the many virtual concerts now available online and sing along!
· Find Something That Absorbs Your Mind
With the recent pandemic, many of us are now quickly learning just how much time work eats up in our daily schedule. While taking some time to relax is a good thing, it’s best to fill up those empty time slots with absorbing activities – preferably something that can get you into a state of ‘flow.’
Studies define ‘flow’ is a mental state where you find yourself pleasurably focused and immersed in the task at hand. It can keep you occupied – and in the process, keep at bay negative thoughts and rumination. Activities like drawing, knitting, or playing games are great for this!
· Let Fiction Take You On Adventures
There are plenty of good stories out there, be it via shows, movies, books, videos, streams, or even fanworks. If you haven’t given yourself a chance to be wholly absorbed by a good tale, now’s the best time to do it – especially since studies have shown immersing ourselves in the lives of fictional characters can net us a definite benefit! According to the study, fictional worlds and people can double as social surrogates, which can help combat loneliness during these difficult times.
· Take An Online Or Virtual Exercise Class
In place of our usual activities and social gatherings, it’s easy to find ourselves vegetating out in front of a screen. Doubly so since all forms of entertainment and information now best come through the internet. The need to keep ourselves healthy is essential. Studies show that you can also combat loneliness if exercising is a social activity like a fitness class. Plus, the structure, social support, and group energy you will generally get from a fitness class can help you stay socially connected and grounded.
So consider taking up virtual sessions with a personal trainer, or join a live-streamed workout class. It may be just what you need!
3. Get Your Nostalgia Going
Some may think that nostalgia is the worst thing to experience at this point. After all, is it not generally associated with being sad? Would that not make loneliness worse? As it turns out, that’s not quite the case:
· Nostalgia Counteracts Loneliness
Studies have shown it’s easier to maintain positive thinking if you believe you have an increase in perceived social support – something that nostalgia helps with. Try backing up your photo and video collection, or organize and share them with loved ones. Reminiscing with friends and family over happy memories may just give you the social interaction you need to combat loneliness.
· You Appreciate Them Better
When was the last time you took the time to appreciate all that you and your loved one have gone through? A little positive nostalgia makes one reflect on all the good things that have happened, and it can be helpful. Studies have shown that doing such a thing can create a greater sense of support and secureness in your relationship – which may be just what you need to combat loneliness.
· It Reminds You Of What You Have
Nostalgia is, in a way, a form of meditation and self-reflection. And in these quiet moments, we tend to end up realizing just how we are loved in so many ways, by so many people. This can create a better appreciation of the relationships we have – and in turn, reduce our loneliness.
4. Schedule Social Interaction From A Distance
At the end of the way, there’s no getting around it – we have to get our social interactions somehow. Thankfully, the internet has made it easier to connect to those around us virtually. Here are a few ideas to get you started on growing and expanding your online social network:
· Contact Those You’re Close To
Nothing will ever beat meeting up in person, but studies prove that some kind of contact is better than none. Schedule a virtual meet-up via some kind of video or voice chat about doing something together – like baking cookies, playing games, or watching a movie.
Planning a daily or weekly event can give you and your loved ones something to be excited about and combats time blindness and loneliness. Even if you can’t make it a big event every time, just checking in for 10 minutes can be incredibly helpful in fending off loneliness.
· Adapt To Online Efforts
There’s no reason to bemoan the closing of your monthly book club when it’s still being hosted online. If your usual social events and gatherings haven’t transitioned into online spaces yet, then try hosting them virtually yourself!
· Seek Online Communities
Online communities for specific hobbies or interests have always existed – and now it’s only gotten so much easier to find and join them. And they don’t have to be just forum-based text messages, either. Live-streamed classes covering just about any hobby and subject imaginable are easily available, as are group video-calls for classes and discussions. Just start looking!
· Don’t Mindlessly Scroll Through Social Media – Interact!
It’s easy to think that just scrolling through our social media feed is enough to provide us the social interaction we need. While social media does help us stay updated on current events and the ongoings of our loved one’s lives, the only way we can truly connect with people is when we actively engage with them. Don’t simply like their posts – try leaving comments on both the post and on other people’s comments instead!
5. Be Kind To Yourself And Others During Social Isolation
Loneliness and the negativity it spawns can be very difficult to deal with, even in the best of times. It’s understandable that you will find yourself struggling, no matter what you do to avoid it. Instead, here are a few other things to keep in mind:
· Be Accepting Of Yourself
Trying to deny negative emotions or insisting that you shouldn’t don’t have them doesn’t help matters. In fact, they often make things worse. The best way to handle them is to acknowledge them instead. Don’t linger or cling on to them – let them come and go – feelings, after all, will change over time. If you find yourself struggling to do this, learning how to meditate may help.
· Practice Kindness
It may be harder to do now with the pandemic, but performing random acts of kindness is still possible. Offer to buy groceries for your elderly or disabled relatives, neighbors, and friends. Check-in on your loved ones and ask about what they need. Donate and support local businesses and restaurants wherever you can. Doing your best to volunteer and help others can be a great source of purpose and connection in times of loneliness.
· Be Compassionate
It can be hard to do so, especially when you’re struggling mentally and emotionally. But as it turns out, being an active pillar of support and encouragement might counteract your own loneliness – and the struggles that stem from it. Text or call your loved ones, or reach out to others – friends and strangers alike. If you have the time and energy for it, try sending a letter too! It may help you, in turn, more than you realize.
Social isolation is unpleasant, but for the time being, it is thoroughly necessary. Sadly, that does mean you’ll have to cope with potential loneliness. Still, with positive thinking and by making use of these five ways to fight loneliness during social isolation, you’ll be able to emerge just fine on the other side.
As a final note, don’t be afraid to reach out to friends, family, or other loved ones if your loneliness is especially dire. You can do so through phone calls, texts, or any other method of distant communication during social isolation.