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April 3, 2020

Isolation Doesn't Have To Be Lonely

The virus known as COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on every individual in the whole world. Because we are all asked to distance ourselves from one another, our natural instinct to connect is being interrupted on an intense, lengthy and unfamiliar level. The new rule of distancing and isolation applies to every single one of us: the sick, the healthy, and the exposed.

Those that are already sick, and those simply exposed to COVID-19, have to steer clear of society 100% for an extended period of time. They are required to literally be alone in a separate dwelling area altogether. If you are feeling sick don't hesitate to reach out to any of our doctors.

As for the healthy, even they must stay home unless there is an urgent, necessary need to go out; if they do venture out, they can't even be within 6ft of another person. To make matters worse, the experts say that no one should hug, shake hands, kiss each other, hold hands, or even pat another on the back.

Social events are now canceled, churches have no service, schools aren't in session, restaurants aren't seating customers and malls are closed. Families cannot come together to share birthdays or holidays and libraries are closed where kids used to be able to enjoy storytime together. It's a brand normal showing us how much human contact really matters now that we are without it--and it can really mess with our minds and emotions.

All this, of course, is necessary to stop the spread of this insidious virus. However, we must recognize the psychological impact social distancing can have. There are studies that have proven loneliness can have negative effects on physical health as well, and cause us to go through a downward spiral into a worsening state. Therefore, We must help ourselves and others who may be suffering. We need to reach out to all those we know who are prone to loneliness and depression from this sudden lack of human contact.

To help prevent all this, we need to find ways to stay connected throughout this unfamiliar circumstance we find ourselves in. We are in an uncharted territory called COVID-19 and although it's scary and Nobody's been here before, being off work has allowed time to think up some creative ideas to get us through it:

IDEAS FOR THE ELDERLY

This fragile section of society is particularly vulnerable to loneliness. Due to having lost family and friends throughout the years along with their unfamiliarity with technology, they most likely have little connection to begin with. To help them, they need to be shown how to use laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc. to at lease connect verbally and/or face-to-face via camera-chat so they can see who they're talking to. We can also check on them if they are neighbors. Knock on their door and while maintaining distancing, let them know you care by asking if they need help or anything from the store. As simple as it sounds, you can even talk across the fence or simply mail a letter to them!

IDEAS FOR CHILDREN

Kids need interaction with one another, and spending all of their time with only adults isn't going to provide them optimal socialization. By implementing smartphones, smart TVs, laptops, desktops, and tablets, they can be in online groups together with meeting software like face-time or FB’s screen-call option. They can all log in and watch the same cartoon, for instance, draw pictures on chalkboards or paper, and watch the other kids draw theirs. Parents can assist them in playing games together like guessing games, alphabet games, and matching games. An adult can hold up a picture of a duck for example, and have them all try and draw their own duck, or an adult can make an animal out of playdough, show it to the camera so they can all see, and then have them make their own. Maybe it would even be a good idea to have the kids make homemade cards to send via snail-mail to anyone lonely they may know!

IDEAS FOR YOUNG ADULTS UP TO MIDDLE AGE

This age group is excellent at the use of social media. They will more than likely be the least affected group facing loneliness. They will be able to implement all the ideas we've discussed above with expertise. They know how to play all the online games that are connected to real people in real-time, they know how to call, face-time, text and email each other. They can easily send informative or silly communications to inspire and uplift one another, connect on social media with like-minded strangers to make even new friends that share their values and passions. If they do not know how to do the above, they surely know people to call and ask. The telephone aspect of our smart devices is invaluable at this time!

It has been known for a long time and also proven by research, that unexpected circumstances carry tremendous weight in our psyche. The loss of control felt severely increase anxiety and other mental disorders. It is just as important to maintain sanity as it is to find a cure for the virus! Also remember, this time of staying home can be used used to better connect with those that are in isolation with us (if we're lucky enough to have others around.) Don't forget also, that Stress can be managed by moving muscles and getting the endorphins flowing. Endorphines are happy chemicals! This can be done by exercising in place, jumping rope, walking on a treadmill, or doing simply jumping jacks.

In conclusion, make sure you (also remind others) to get quiet and clear the mind. Just breathe. If one is religious, use this quiet time to connect with God. Even though most religious services are canceled, hundreds can be found online to watch on any smart device. If there are any books where you're holed-up, read! Not many people seem to read books anymore--this is a great time to get back into that. Also, create! When we use the creative part of the brain, it also releases those endorphins we talked about. There are so many fun options that can be done to ease anxiety and loneliness: crochet, knit, sew, draw, paint, mold clay, and do anything else that interests you. Maybe rearranging furniture would even help keep the blues away!

Although the above-mentioned ideas may not solve all the issues that isolation may cause, they very much do go a long way in lifting up the human spirit and giving it life. We need each other right now, more than ever.

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