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Mullen-Johnson: 7 Tips to Handle Loneliness During COVID-19 Pandemic

By Crystal Mullen-Johnson

For many, loneliness is extremely difficult to handle, and it has become a major problem during the pandemic. Singles, the elderly population, and individuals that are chronically ill are at a higher risk of experiencing loneliness. Socialization, security and to belong is a basic human need and loneliness during mandatory shelter-in-place has threatened those basic needs.

Loneliness may alter how people perceive themselves and the external world which can have determinantal effects on any individual’s mental health.  Some people may experience hopelessness and fear of being alone in the future. Unfortunately, the pandemic is lingering, we have transitioned through summer into fall and remain stuck in a state of confusion about how to engage and more or less connect with others.

Socialization guidelines create barriers to mingle and meet new people and because of that singles are experiencing challenges meeting a partner.  One can easily allow their current conditions of isolation to result in self-destructive behaviors (i.e. substance abuse, self-defeating thoughts, unhealthy relationships and more) that ultimately may result in suicidal tendencies and bouts of serious depression and anxiety. Moments of despair should never be taken lightly as in these critical times and moments that can lead to lifelong patterns of self-defeat and an embattlement of long-term mental health problems.

Your lonely state can directly reflect on your daily activities. It’s important to honor your morals, values and daily responsibilities. Fulfilling a void of loneliness requires acknowledging your void, identifying healthy activities and finding life meaning.

Here are some tips to handle loneliness during the pandemic:

Connect with a Support Group: Support groups are beneficial to rely on to encourage and inspire you. Create a list of people you can contact and have daily healthy conversations.

Identify an activity that you enjoy or learn something new: Adopt a growth mindset and identify activities that you consider enjoyable yet safe. It’s important to learn to live an enjoyable life during the pandemic. You can also consider learning a new skill.

Stay healthy and active: Okay, you cancelled your gym membership now it’s time to be intrinsically motivated. It’s easy to fall into the complacency of transitioning to the sofa after you get off of work. Consider taking a brisk walk, yoga, or keep it moving to burn some calories. Your mental and physical health are married.

Give yourself time: I know it seems like you have been in the lonely state for a while. Consider this a good time for you to heal and address unresolved relationships and become a healthier you. Take time for self-reflection to improve your well-being.

Live: It’s time to learn to live in the feeling of stillness. Don’t give up.

Talk to a therapist: Therapy is a great opportunity to express your feelings of grief and loneliness. I understand sometimes it’s easier to withdraw but that’s not the best option. You are not alone.

Family and Friends: Do not judge, you don’t know what your loved one is dealing with. Offer a lending ear. At times it’s important to be heard and not judged. Extend compassion.

Crystal Mullen-Johnson is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Registered Play Therapist in Birmingham with more than 16 years of experience in providing counseling. Strive Counseling Services is a private practice located in downtown Birmingham. Contact us at (205) 721-9893 to inquire about Telehealth Services or visit Strive Counseling Services—http://www.strivebhm.com