First of all, we want to start by reminding you that if you're feeling really lonely right now, you are not alone. People all over the world are experiencing feelings of loneliness as they social distance and stay home. Even families who are in quarantine together are feeling lonely; missing their friends, coworkers and communities outside of their immediate family members. Maybe you're missing the way life was, or maybe you're lamenting the fact that you're single during a time like this. We know it's a difficult moment, and being single can make this feel even more punishing.
Whether you're staying at home voluntarily or under strict quarantine, remember that you will be able to leave your house, see your friends and go about your daily routine at some point in the future. The difficult part is that we don't know exactly when. Things may be different for a while, but they won't be like this forever.
In the meantime, we have to find ways to manage our loneliness and focus on our mental health. Loneliness can be more dangerous to our health than obesity or smoking, and it can also have an impact on our immune system. Besides that, it just doesn't feel good to sit with feelings of loneliness all day.
Here are some ways to help cope when you're feeling lonely:
Reach Out To Your Single People
Reach out to friends or family who are also single so that you can talk to someone who understands how you're feeling. If a lot of your friends are married and/or have kids, they are probably consumed right now trying to adjust to having the entire family at home. Many parents are overwhelmed right now with schools being closed. But your single and childless friends and family members are in the same boat as you, so lean on them. Dr. Guy Winch suggests that "helping others is one of those things that has just as much benefit, in terms of positive psychological and emotional impact, for the person doing the helping as for the person being helped. Loneliness is something we can actually crowdsource. If we all reached out to at least three people a day who might be feeling lonely, it could make a big difference overall."
Schedule Recurring Calls
Schedule weekly video calls with a few different people, and spread them out during the week. Connection is so important, especially at a time when so much feels uncertain. So go ahead and be proactive by setting up calls ahead of time so that you have things to look forward to throughout the week. Everyone is talking about Zoom, which is a good work tool, but we recommend Whereby because it has a much more minimal aesthetic we prefer for casual chats with our friends and family. It feels less like a conference call your boss is going to hop on, in other words.
Set Up A Group Chat
Whether you're sharing memes or photos of what you're cooking while under quarantine, having a group chat can feel like a lifeline during this time. Whether it's on Whatsapp or iMessage, create a group chat with a few friends and encourage them to add more friends by making them admins of the group.
Get A Daily Dose of Culture
We're all spending a lot of time on streaming services right now, which is understandable, but binging Love Is Blind is a bit like eating only junk food. Esther Perel reminds us to also take advantage of cultural events that are moving online during this crisis. For example, the Metropolitan Opera in New York is streaming operas daily for free. The Paris Opera is also streaming its performances online for free. Many cultural centers and museums are doing the same, so check out what your local favorite places are doing during this time.
By the way, NPR has compiled a great list of things that are now free to do online, if opera isn't your thing.
And remember, loneliness is an important part of being human, even when we're not in a crisis. It's something that we all experience, and it's because we're social beings. Instead of focusing on what you may feel you are missing during this time, remember what you do have.
If you could use more daily support through a breakup or divorce, you can download our app Mend (iOS only). You can also sign up for our free class on "Staying Home: How To Support Your Mental Health During Coronavirus."