According to studies, loneliness is one of the greatest health concerns people face: it is equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes daily. Physician Stephanie Collier, MD, MPH, posted a recent blog at the Harvard Health website listing principles to guide you or help a loved one cope with loneliness exacerbated by lock-downs and stay-at-home orders.
- Connect meaningfully with family and friends. Although technology can help foster connections, it is imperfect: social media, for example, has actually been linked to increasing loneliness. Connect in a way that works best for you: whether by phone, via video chat, through a mobile application, or even by talking with your neighbors across the fence or in a park.
- Be thankful. Loneliness can lead people to focus on themselves and their hardships. Aim to express appreciation toward friends, family, and strangers.
- Focus on what you can change. Spending time dwelling on your current situation can perpetuate loneliness; rather, focus your attention on something within your control and work at it.
- Enjoy being busy. Complete a chore, spend time writing, find a new hobby, or just allow yourself to delve into a new activity. Let your creativity shine!
- Remove negativity. Surround yourself with people and activities that bring you joy. Consider taking a break from the news, or at least limiting your consumption.
- Smile: Data suggest that just the act of smiling can make you feel better.
- Be kind, understanding, and patient. Work on treating yourself and others with compassion. Engaging in pleasurable interactions can also help those around you, and may result in deeper connections.
- Develop a routine that provides balance and familiarity. Create a daily plan that includes physical activity, time for connecting with loved ones, a project or hobby, and a relaxing pleasure.