Precautionary measures for COVID-19, like social distancing and self-isolation, can leave a person feeling lonely, overwhelmed and wanting human contact. These are all natural feelings to experience during this difficult time.
“Isolation and loneliness are significant mental health challenges, and we need to take care of both our mental and physical health, because, after all, they are intertwined,” says Briana Duffy, regional president at Beacon Health Options, a behavioral health services company.
These well-being tips may help you make the best of time alone:
- Be creative. Treat your alone time as an opportunity to embrace your hobbies or consider new ones, like cooking, painting or woodworking.
- Write down your thoughts. Keeping a journal of your feelings can give you an outlet for emotions. Notice the positive moments in your day. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) recommends that you write down one positive thing a day or week and it could start to change your experience.
- Stay connected. Set aside time to be with loved ones on the phone, by video chat or email. Share your concerns and how you are feeling. If you have friends, family or neighbors also living alone, stay in touch to help them too.
- Exercise your mind. Start a project that challenges you, like learning a new language. It can give you something to look forward to each day.
- Talk to your doctor. Find out if it is possible for you to use telehealth for mental health, substance use or emotional health concerns. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends you let your doctor or health care provider know if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days.
- Seek professional help if you need it. You shouldn’t ignore negative thoughts or worries, according to Beacon Health Options. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or struggling with depression, anxiety or addiction, call the SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline, 24/7, at 1-800-985-5990.
There also are virtual support groups with online meetings, including Alcoholics Anonymous
and Narcotics Anonymous
. Duffy says, “Interacting with people using online support groups can provide great opportunities for you to not only talk about how you are feeling, but also offer emotional support to others who need help coping with the pandemic.”
- Ask someone to check in with you. Arrange for a family member, friend or neighbor to regularly contact you. Reach out to that person if you need to talk, feel sick, or need help with errands or supplies.
For extra support
If your benefits are administered through your employer, you may have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). EAPs can help you access resources for emotional health, managing stress, and coping with anxiety and depression.
Living alone doesn't mean you have to face the challenges of COVID-19 on your own. We hope you will consider using all available tools and resources to support your emotional and physical well-being in the days ahead.