According to Psychology Today, 61% of Americans express being in some state of loneliness. Quarantining created loneliness in even the most social individuals who were forced to sequester with only immediate family; some were left in complete solitude. Much isolation is built into the Gen-Z lifestyle, excluding lockdowns. Screen time has reduced or entirely replaced participation in sports, community groups and other social activities. Remote working, while convenient for some, eliminated the breakroom interactions or casual conversations that would occur passing by another’s office on the way to one’s workspace.
Even after restrictions relaxed, many individuals found it difficult to re-engage socially. Concerns about exposure, along with the adoption of convenient delivery and contactless services, have created an environment that encourages more isolation.
Social connections are closely related to our wellbeing. Whether a person lives in isolation or is surrounded by others perceived as not “in tune” with them, feeling a lack of social connectedness can be painful. Health factors such as heart disease, diabetes 2 and arthritis have been linked to loneliness.
If you are finding it difficult to reconnect, start with some simple steps: Express appreciation to someone, send a text or call to someone you were in contact with a month or year ago, find a social outlet you might enjoy such as a book club, a trivia group or an investment class.
However, if you do find yourself in quite a bit of solitude, following are some tips to combat loneliness.
1. Fill your house with sound (music, podcasts, audio books or just keep a tv on in the background)
2. Exercise (anything physical from some jumping jacks to a nice walk or bike ride)
3. Get outside (yardwork or gardening are a good excuse)
4. Draw out your creative side (make soap or a sugar scrub, paint, perhaps give poetry a shot)
5. Consider a pet (animals require your care and can provide needed companionship)
Don’t let loneliness debilitate you. Any adult feeling isolated, depressed, or suicidal can reach out anytime to Samaratins (1-877-870-4673) for support. It's confidential and free to use.
Crisis Text Line can also help you deal with loneliness. Reach a counselor by texting HOME to 741741.
*This nonfiction piece is based on observation and research. I do not claim to be an expert in areas of public health, academia, mental health, or science, nor am I providing professional medical or legal advice. Opinions shared are expressly drawn from personal experience.