Social distancing and loneliness
I want to take the time to write about the idea and struggle of social distancing. We humans are a social people and especially those individuals who suffer with depression or anxiety often find that isolation and distancing intensify their pain. I thought it paramount to share some thoughts and ideas of how to combat these feelings in such a time.
First and foremost, let me be clear. I am in NO WAY suggesting to not take the social distancing seriously. These precautions need to be taken to ensure health and safety for all. Even if you are in a low risk group (which they are still working to establish parameters for) appropriate actions are still necessary. Wash your hands, don’t touch your face, especially your eyes, nose or mouth, cover your cough and sneeze and keep safe distances from other; current recommendations are 6 feet.
All that aside, again, we are social beings and distance is hard. We shake hands, hug, kiss, and generally like to be near others. Distancing makes us feel alone and loneliness worsens emotional turmoil. Loneliness increases “thoughts” and for anyone who has ever struggled with depression or anxiety, being alone with your thoughts is one of the most difficult things. So what can you do? (remember I want to be positive and helpful here) – Here are some suggestions that may help decrease loneliness.
1) Use technology. Remember, this is not a computer virus, you can skype, zoom, face time, or video chat with others. Modern technology allows us to reduce physical or geographic distance to almost zero.”
For those who don’t know how to use it (but somehow still found this post), go ahead and Google instructions, or call someone to walk you through it.
2) Use technology – I wrote this twice on purpose. Technology can be used by many to still hold meetings, religious ceremonies (if your religious practice allows this) or clubs. For example, if you are in a book club, or just like to read, then you can still read and then start or join an online book club using one of the above video conferencing programs.
3) Many of you may be at home with your children. Whether they are in virtual school or on break, take this time and enjoy being near your kids. I’m guessing they are often at school and this is your opportunity to see how they spend their days.
4) Journal. I know, the psychiatrist is recommending journaling, but the truth is, it helps and it’s important. Write your feelings and your thoughts. The process will help you to put things into perspective.
5) Exercise. This is important and healthy. Whether you simply pace or go outside and take a stroll, this can be enormously helpful. Of course, make sure to be mindful and safe. Social distancing unfortunately doesn’t work if you are hand in hand with someone else.
6) Music. Appropriately chosen music can be uplifting and joyful. A note of caution, when choosing music, remember it is emotional and if you don’t wish to be sad, don’t listen to something you know will make you feel sad.
These are just a few ideas that I hope help get you through these difficult times. I would like to offer another word of support. Please DON’T panic. There is a definitely a reason to take this seriously and be mindful of your behaviors and interactions, but it does NOT mean the world is coming to an end and you need to live in fear. Please be careful and be safe. Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face. Keep space spacing and distancing, especially if you are in a high risk group.
These are trying times and I wish all of you health and support. Remember, it is ok to be nervous and sad. This is not pathological. If you feel it is beyond that though, or know a loved who one is struggling, please seek treatment. There are a lot of good and effective treatment options so please contact myself (or someone else local to you) and get help. If you need treatment from a psychiatrist, please contact me at 954-755-2885. My office is located at 5551 North University Drive, Suite 202, Coral Springs, Florida 33067, part of Kimmel Psychology. I have telepsychiatry available, so it’s not necessary for you to actually come to an office to receive treatment.