The COVID-19 pandemic forced people to face a new normal. Social distancing and stay-at-home protocols help minimize the spread of the virus and keep everyone safe. Staying at home for months, however, can make many people feel isolated and lonely, especially those who live alone.
Travel restrictions make it difficult for city dwellers to go back to their provinces to be with their families during the lockdown period. Most local governments require people to provide certain documents, like travel authority and negative Covid-19 test results, to enter. Having a car is also an advantage as public transportation remains limited. Otherwise, you will have to pay more so you can travel back to your hometown.
These are some of the factors many people living in Manila choose to stay in the city during the lockdown period. Living alone with limited social interaction for a time can be lonely. Prolonged social isolation can also affect your mental and physical health.
How Loneliness and Social Isolation Affects Mental and Physical Health
Social connections are a fundamental human need vital for someone’s well-being and survival. According to a report from the American Psychological Association (APA), feeling lonely is natural. When loneliness becomes chronic, however, problems can arise.
Having no emotional, mental, or financial resources that can help people recover from chronic loneliness increases their risk of experiencing such feelings. Lack of social circle also makes one susceptible to chronic loneliness.
Additionally, social isolation can lead to depression, impaired executive function, faster cognitive decline, and poor sleep quality. It can also affect your cardiovascular health and immunity.
Although the government has loosened the public health protocols and more establishments are open, the pandemic is far from over. Staying at home and social distancing are essential to keep yourself safe from the virus.
Coping With Social Isolation During The Pandemic
If you’re living alone during these trying times, there are you can do to cope with loneliness.
- Stay Active
Research shows that people, particularly students, are eating less well every day during the pandemic. They also drink less tea and coffee, but they drink more alcohol instead. It also shows they became less active since the pandemic started.
Staying active during the lockdown period not only makes you mentally and physically fit. It also serves as a distraction.
You can do at-home exercises, such as yoga, Tai Chi, and core exercises. If you can, go out for a run or walk around your neighborhood. Many real estate developers design a neighborhood where dwellers can stay active and safe.
- Stay Connected with Others
Another helpful way to cope with loneliness associated with social isolation is to stay connected with other people, be it your family or friends.
Technology makes it a lot easier for people to stay connected. Make sure to video call or text your parents once in a while. Catch up with your friends via Zoom or Skype. You can also organize virtual parties with them and play games together.
- Learn New Things
Staying at home can be an opportunity for you to new hobbies or enhance your current skills. There are tons of free online courses you can take, from learning about trading to cooking classes. Try the things that are trending online and have fun.
You can also take this opportunity to start the projects you’ve always wanted to do for a long time. For example, redecorating your room. You can repaint the walls, rearrange the furniture, and do minor repairs.
Tired of ordering food online? Learn how to cook or bake. They are a useful and rewarding hobby, especially during the lockdown period. Cooking your own food allows you to control the taste and choose the ingredients used. It can also help you maintain a healthy diet, which is necessary during this time.
- Ask for Help
Spending a lot of time alone can be overwhelming, especially for those who experience anxiety and depression even before the pandemic. If you’re struggling to cope with social isolation, don’t be afraid to get help.
The Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC) recommends calling your healthcare provider when stress starts to affect your daily activities for several days. You can also contact a mental health professional to help you cope well. Most of them offer online consultations and sessions so you don’t need to go out.
Your family and close friends can provide you with the support you need, as well. It can be difficult to open up with them, but it can help you feel better.
In a normal year, many people who live alone rarely spend time at home. If they get lonely, they have the option to go out and have fun with other people. The pandemic made people’s lives more complicated. It’s important to keep your mental health in check during this difficult time. Stay active, stay connected, and don’t hesitate to ask for help when necessary.