Reach out: Ask, Listen, Encourage, Check in
Creative Ways to Manage Isolation and Loneliness
During this time of social distancing, it is important we take care of ourselves and our loved one. For some people, social distancing and spending more time alone can worsen some mental health symptoms. Consider creative ways to deal with isolation and loneliness:
- Check in with loved ones: Call a neighbor or friend to check in on how they are doing. Send a text or note to friends and loved ones. Writing has been shown to help people feel less sad or upset.
- Schedule a virtual “hangout”: spend time in a virtual setting with friends or loved ones using an online video system such as FaceTime or Google Hangout. Click here for a great step-by-step resource on how to use the technology.
- Go for a walk: Simply getting outside for some fresh air and waving or greeting others from a safe distance can make a huge difference.
- Lend a helping hand: If you are healthy, offer to run an errand for a neighbor who may need a little extra help. Helping others can help us feel connected and gives us a sense of purpose during this difficult time. Be mindful to wash your hands before and after the errand and maintain a distance of at least 6 feet between you and the person you are helping. Even seemingly healthy people can transmit illnesses.
- Use social media wisely: Social media can help us maintain connections to others, especially family and friends who live far away. Too much exposure, however, can make anxiety or depression worse. Be mindful of how much time on social media helps you feel connected and less alone versus overwhelmed.
- Tap into available resources:
- You may have lots of questions and and feel uncertain right now, but don’t be afraid to reach out. You can always dial 2-1-1 to find the answers and resources you need. The line is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All calls are free and confidential. Interpreter services are available in multiple languages. Learn more here.
- There is a multitude of online resources available to stay mentally and physically active—examples include art workshops, meditation classes, streamed concerts, 3-D walkthroughs of museums and zoos around the world, audiobooks, and music playlists to lift your mood.
- Help older adults stay engaged: If you or a loved one is an older adult, check out the local programming available to you through your community’s Council on Aging. While many senior centers are physically closed, they still offer a wide variety of social programming and health classes on the phone or online. AARP is also offering a tele-friend program where older adults can connect to volunteers in their community.
- Join a virtual support group: Connect with others who may be facing similar challenges and experiences – whether you are a parent, caregiver, an individual living with a behavioral health condition, or something else. NAMI has a lot of great online and phone support resources.