During the COVID-19 public health emergency, many of us have remained shut up in our homes for weeks on end. Maybe we’re under quarantine with a few family members. Maybe we’re home with just our significant other. Maybe we’re cooped up with just our furry and feathered friends to keep us company. Or maybe we’re simply by ourselves.
In any of these situations, it is only natural to miss the usual day-to-day in-person interactions with others—our extended family, our friends, our coworkers, our favorite barista, and so on. These simple connections with others can be essential for our ongoing mental health. Loneliness can quickly undermine us and lead to other problems if it goes unaddressed.
So during this time, how can you ward off loneliness and support your mental health during quarantine?
We Are Physically Distant—But We Can Still Connect
Many people have pointed out that “social distancing” is not really what we are trying to do at the moment. It might be better described as “physical distancing.” We are keeping our physical distance from one another, but we still have plenty of ways to keep in touch with the important people in our lives.
You can, of course, call or text friends and family while “social distancing” orders are in place. Smart phones, tablets, computers, and other devices offer a range of video call options, allowing you to see the folks you are connecting with. And with a variety of online services, you can connect with large groups of people all at once—everything from meetings of coworkers and virtual family meals to online worship services and virtual arts events.
From the simple text to the largest online meeting, our various devices are great tools for keeping in touch. And now is a great time to focus on these connections. If you call a friend, focus entirely on the call rather than trying to multitask. If you and your pals are having a virtual conversation, put other distractions aside and spend that time listening and sharing. Our tendency to try to do too many things at once can contribute to feelings of disconnection. Dedicated attention offers its own rewards as you forge deeper, more honest relationships—and possibly form a habit of being a good listener.
Consider Connecting the Old-Fashioned Way
Technology is great. But this time we are spending apart might be a great time to bring back an older form of communication: the letter.
We’re not talking about an email. We’re talking about pen and paper. Whether you write a long letter filled with news and affection or dash off a quick postcard to let someone know you are thinking of them, the act of writing is personal and helps us feel more connected. The person on the receiving end—who just might be battling loneliness themselves—will be delighted to receive your handwritten note. With luck, they will be inspired to reply, and you can strike up an ongoing correspondence. Admittedly, it isn’t the fastest way to connect, but it is a great way to make someone feel special. And it will make you feel good, too, as you take the time to put your thoughts down on paper.
Can’t think of anyone to write to? Putting pen to paper can still help you overcome loneliness, especially while under quarantine. Consider starting a journal in which you can write to and for yourself. It doesn’t have to be a “dear diary” sort of journal filled with starry-eyed entries about your latest crush. You could start writing down your dreams when you wake up in the morning. Or you could spend a few minutes before you go to bed reflecting on the day. You could jot down funny observations, ideas for a short story, snippets of poetry—really, anything at all. Your journal is your place to get your thoughts out on paper in whatever way is most helpful to you. Journaling can support your mental health and can help in other situations as well.
You Can Always Connect With Us
Peak View Behavioral Health remains open during the public health emergency and offers a range of options for therapy and treatment for issues related to your mental health during quarantine. We can help you find ways to stay connected to the important people in your life while also addressing the underlying issues that may be contributing to the depression or anxiety that often accompanies feelings of loneliness. If you need help, we are ready to provide compassionate care that will help you make it through this challenging time.