If you’re lonely, you’re not alone.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, public-health experts were concerned about an epidemic of loneliness in the United States. 35.7 million Americans live alone. And one out of every three people over age 45 has reported feeling lonely. The coronavirus has worsened this problem, as people are urged to stay at home and maintain social distance.
Social isolation and loneliness have been linked to many physical and mental health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, anxiety and depression. The health damage caused by isolation is estimated to increase the risk of early death by 26 percent.
How are you feeling these days? Lonely? Cramped? Worried about the virus? Completely overwhelmed? There are things you can do, and ways you can connect, during the COVID-19 pandemic – and beyond.
Tips on coping with isolation:
- Keep in touch with family, friends and support groups through social media, video chat, online games and other digital tools.
- Go outside and get some fresh air, making sure to maintain a 6-foot distance from others.
- Stay busy. Read, play games, take an online class or work on a project.
- Decrease the time you spend watching or listening to upsetting media coverage.
- Be kind to your mind. Practice deep breathing, meditation and positive self-talk.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Stay hydrated, eat nutritious meals, exercise and get enough sleep.
- Avoid using tobacco, alcohol or other drugs to cope.