Self-Care | Social Distancing
March 18, 2020
How to Feel Less Isolated While
(Due to Coronavirus COVID-19)
You are not alone.
Community care is self-care.
Of the many ways that coronavirus has unwelcomely invaded our lives, one of the biggest challenges for many of us is going to be this: social distancing. We’ve all heard the term by now and you’re likely practicing it in your own life, and with that you might be recognizing some feelings of isolation and loneliness surfacing as you spend more time alone (and not by choice!).
Humans aren’t meant to be isolated. We’re designed for interaction, for connection. We’re designed for afternoon coffees and Sunday brunches and walks in nature with our best friend. We’re designed for each other.
So what can you do when forced to disconnect and put space in between yourself and your support system? How can you keep yourself healthy and safe and follow precautions while not spiraling into a mental abyss triggered by the depression and loneliness that can come with isolation?
Here are a few practical ways to care for yourself and ideas you can implement into your social distancing time that will help you feel less isolated and more balanced throughout this time period in which we’re all affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
Stay Connected to Loved Ones
This means phone calls, Skype and WhatsApp calls, text messages, social media, really any way that you can connect with your friends and loved ones outside of in-person visits. While this doesn’t mean spending 24/7 glued to our phones, we can be thankful we’re in an age where this step comes so easily for us, with endless social media apps and ways to connect not only over the phone but over video too! Staying connected in these ways will help you maintain your sanity and boost your immune system during a time when face-to-face connection isn’t available due to the COVID-19 epidemic. Putting effort into maintaining our sacred relationships is one of the best ways to combat the feelings of isolation!
If you don't know who you can turn to but you need support, text SHARE to 741741 to be connected with a crisis counselor.
Call Upon Your Support System!
One of the most dangerous parts of isolation, specifically for someone with existing mental health issues, although this can affect anyone spending too much time alone, is that you don’t have people around you to help you keep a healthy and balanced perspective. This can breed negative and anxious thoughts. Because you don’t have people around you to challenge them, the negative and anxious thoughts can easily spiral into a place you can’t get out of on your own.
If you find yourself feeling down or find depressive or anxious thoughts beginning to surface, reach out to someone you trust. Even if they’re not available in person, send a text message or make a phone call and just share that you’re struggling and that it would be great if you could have a few minutes of support from them. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic is not the time to allow social distancing to also distance you from your support system, it’s the time to be even more aware of your thoughts and feelings and take steps to bring in help when you need it.
Create a Safe, Welcoming Space
A space you enjoy spending time in. No one wants to be stuck at home when home doesn’t feel good. Making a cozy, comfy space for yourself can make social distancing that much more relaxing and self-caring instead of feeling isolating. Pull some extra blankets out of the closet and throw them on your bed and couch. Light some candles, make your bed when you get up in the mornings, pull out a stack of your favorite books, make yourself a cup of tea or hot coffee. Small things can change the feeling of your space and help create an environment you truly enjoy spending time in, which will ease the challenge of spending more time at home.
Fill Time With Your Favorite Hobbies
Isolation can also be dangerous when we spend the time doing, well, nothing. Things like sleeping, watching a lot of tv (especially the news right now), endlessly scrolling on our phones with no purpose, can leave us feeling even more empty and unproductive than the isolation alone. Work on filling your time with some of your favorite hobbies to help bring you both a sense of accomplishment and a sense of enjoyment. These can be things that you don’t ordinarily have much time for and it will be a total treat getting to engage in them, or things you just haven’t done in awhile. Pulling out your paints and a canvas, your favorite book or the next book on your reading list, your guitar, your dog’s leash, or a new recipe, will help elevate your mood and give you a purpose while you’re feeling less than connected with the outside world. We need purpose in our lives to thrive, and hobbies can help fill that space during the time of the COVID-19 when our people can’t.
This Is Temporary, Not Forever
This is an important one. Isolation can cause our minds to play tricks on us and, like we talked about, cause and increase negative and anxious thought patterns. We have to remind ourselves, however often you need, that this is a temporary situation. This is not forever. Sometimes all we need to ease anxiety is a light at the end of the tunnel, and this reminder is your light.Try implementing a few of these ideas into your life during this social distancing period and recognize the softening of the disconnect and isolation you feel. It’s not going to look perfect, and that’s okay. Implement whichever ideas feel best for you and work most comfortably in your life right now. Continue to remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can with the cards you have, that you will get through this time, and that you are supported.