Written by Kristen Reese; Associate Director of Rediscovering You
Over the last seven months I think most of us have had to make our mental health a priority. One thing, in-particular, I’ve struggled a bit with in the last couple months is loneliness.
I am used to being a pretty active person, but I have been feeling socially disconnected due to the pandemic. One of my favorite things is going out to dinner with friends. I’ve cut that back quite a bit, just to be safe. The way I do my job and how I interact with coworkers and our patrons has also changed.
Cigna surveyed 20,000 adults from the United States in 2018 (before COVID) and 46% sometimes or always feel alone. While 47% sometimes or always feel alone and/or left out. I know I am not alone in these feelings. I can only imagine what these numbers are today.
Loneliness can lead to depression, anxiety, psychosis, and/or substance abuse. I know I need to address the loneliness and find ways to continue to cope. No one knows when things will get back to normal so- What can I do now to adjust? I know I need to find a purpose. Here are some things I have done that have helped me: I bought a kayak and took it out on the lake a number of times, taking my dog for a walk, reading (and talking to friends or coworkers about the book), and going to lunch or dinner with one or two friends on an outside patio (once every 2-3 weeks). I have found when I get exercise a few times a week it helps keep me in a positive frame of mind. My motivation comes from maintaining relationships with my family and friends; however I can in these times.
Mental Health America shares other possible ways to reduce loneliness: community service or volunteering, alleviate stress, expect the best from people, and focus on quality relationships. For more information on these tips, visit https://mhanational.org/loneliness-making-my-mental-health-struggles-harder.
Rediscovering You also has resources available on anxiety, depression and substance use.