If you are feeling lonely, isolated, stressed, and anxious, you are not alone, and there are ways to look after your health and stay connected.
The increase in distress due to social distancing that many people are experiencing is a normal response. Humans are a social species. Our biology signals a need to reconnect socially, just like hunger signals us to eat, and thirst signals us to drink water. Proximity to other people, especially those we trust, signals safety. When we lack proximity to trusted others our brain and body may respond with a state of heightened alert. This can result in increases in blood pressure, stress hormones, and inflammatory responses. This response can take a toll on our health by exacerbating chronic conditions or bringing on an acute event.
The impact of isolation on mental health can include increased stress, anxiety, and fear, feeling exhausted, detached from others, and irritable, and having trouble sleeping, concentrating, and working. For some people, the experience may result in the even more symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Easing the Impact
Keep in mind that it’s normal to feel anxious, depressed, or fearful. Recognizing that anxiety and depression are normal in the aftermath of a public health emergency like Covid- 19 can help you understand that you aren’t alone.
Connect with others.
Reaching out to friends and family is one of the best ways to reduce anxiety, depression, and loneliness. If it’s not yet safe for you to visit people in person, use the telephone, text messaging, or email to be in contact.
Keep your connection to your community, or build new ones. Look online for religious services and cultural events. Many organizations are offering digital gatherings for religious groups, online classes, and cultural events.
Share your feelings with others, either friends and family or support groups and therapists. Conversation can help you feel more supported and less alone.
Look for ways to ease stress and anxiety.
Stretching, taking walks, doing yoga, or meditating are all great ways to relax your body and mind. If it’s safe to resume normal activities, consider taking an exercise class at a local gym or senior center, where you can combine activity with social contact.
Try out a hypnosis program, a meditation app, or an online yoga class. When your mind feels too full, write some things down to clear your head. Practice mindfulness. Remind yourself of the things you are grateful for each day. Maybe it’s first responders and service workers who keep us safe. Maybe it’s being able to talk with family and friends.
Fresh air and exercise help to relieve loneliness and stress. Spending time in nature and exercising releases feel-good chemicals in your brain to boost your mood. Take a walk, sit outside and read, garden, or just enjoy the fresh air.
Seek help if you need it. If you continue to feel anxious or depressed, contact your healthcare provider to discuss traditional and holistic options that can help.
An experience like the one we’ve all been going through with Covid-19 brings more than its share of worry and sadness. But there are also inspiring stories of people helping one another. Take a break from the news cycle and look for the feel good stories. The world is filled with incredible people doing incredible things. Their stories may lift your spirits.
We’ve talked a lot about reframing our thoughts, and that is even more important now, since you are what you say you are. If you find yourself with negative thoughts, you can acknowledge them, and answer them with a positive reframing. For example, if you find yourself thinking “I’m never going to recover from this.” answer that thought with a positive reframe like “I’ve made it through each day so far.”
There’s an old and true saying that you can’t think about yourself and someone else at the same time. If you find that you are too far “in your own head,” then step out of it by helping someone else. Helping others benefits everyone. By giving support, you get a sense of control and purpose. It can be as simple as a phone call or text saying, “How are you doing? Thinking of you. We’ll get through this.” or something more hands-on like volunteering to deliver food to others who can’t leave home.
Take care of yourself.
Now’s not the time to slack off on sleep, exercise, or diet. Good self-care offsets anxiety and stress. Have a daily routine. Have a regular wake-up and bedtime. Make time for exercise and relaxation.
Many people are on a slower timetable right now. It’s OK to slow your pace, too. Why not take a few minutes for yourself and release any stress or tension you may be holding on to? Click the link below to get my “Release Tension” hypnosis audio program absolutely free.∎
Karen Gray is a Certified Professional Hypnotist, a Certified Hypnosis Instructor, a Registered Nurse, and the Director of Green Mountain Hypnosis. For more information on how you can use hypnosis to change your life, click the link below