video chatting at home with dog

How to Beat Loneliness During COVID-19

If you’re feeling stressed out, sad and lonely because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you’re not alone. We’re all feeling the effects of social isolation, especially since stay-at-home orders have gone into effect in Indiana.

Isolation can have lasting negative effects on your mental health, but there is good news: it’s easier than ever to stay connected with people who care about you.

The Effects of Isolation

Even before COVID-19, nearly 50% of Americans surveyed said they experienced loneliness. That figure is only expected to climb in the coming weeks, and it’s well proven that loneliness can have a major impact on mental health. It adds to depression, anxiety and stress, and can interfere with your ability to get a good night’s sleep.

What’s more, loneliness can even affect your physical health. To put things in perspective, studies have shown that feeling isolated is just as harmful to your physical health as smoking 15 cigarettes every day. It affects the human body twice as much as obesity does, putting you at a higher risk for health complications like heart disease and stroke.

Those are all scary statistics, especially on top of the health crisis we’re facing. The important thing to remember is that you’re not alone. Everyone is thinking the same thoughts that you are, feeling the same worries. We’re all in this together — and by sticking together we’ll all make it through this.

When you’re feeling anxious, taking deep breaths can help you calm down. Here are tips from Kimble Richardson, a licensed mental health counselor from Community Behavioral Health.

You're Not Alone

Humans are a social species — it’s no wonder we’ve come up with so many ways to stay in touch, even during social distancing! Video chatting has really taken off in the last few weeks. Here are some of our favorite ways people have found to spend time together over video:

  • Weekly lunch dates with co-workers
  • Games like trivia and charades
  • Creative art sessions to start the morning
  • Happy hour on Fridays
  • Streaming yoga and other fitness classes

If you don’t know where to start with video chatting, just pick up the phone. Call someone to catch up, especially elderly relatives who can be prone to loneliness. No matter how you choose to stay connected, hearing voices and seeing faces can really help you feel more connected even if you can’t see your loved ones in person.

Go Outside

Another great way to stay connected happens to be great for your health in other ways, too. We have a beautiful springtime ahead of us here in Central Indiana, and currently the precautions around COVID-19 allow us all to enjoy it as long as we practice social distancing.

Grab a friend and just take a walk for an hour. Trails like the Monon and the Cultural Trail can get pretty crowded, so try taking a path you’ve never taken before. Walk down a different street or along a new trail to keep your mind stimulated and your feet busy.

As you’re walking, notice the people — walking their dogs, delivering carry out, sitting on their porches. Just by witnessing all the life that’s happening around you can make you feel connected to your neighborhood and the people living nearby.

If you’re looking for more ways to beat isolation and stay connected, you can help your community. Caregivers and patients facing COVID-19 need resources like face masks and donated blood, and you can be part of the solution. We’re all in this together!