My family and I find ourselves glued to the television every night to watch the local and world news. In the past, watching the news was not something that interested any of us, most especially my kids. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we all find ourselves curious to see if the numbers (deaths, new cases, recovered…) are going up or down. We are also interested to see if there are any probable vaccinations on the horizon.
Another thing that interests everyone in my family is what stage of returning to “normalcy” different parts of our state (New York) are in, and what life is like in other parts of our country, and around the globe.
We reside in the suburbs of New York City, which is the epicenter of the COVID-19 virus here in the United States. The city has the highest number of cases and deaths. It’s also probably one of the last places in our country to fully open up and return to life the way we remember it to be.
The county where I live just opened up to allowing elective surgeries again. I was on the phone right away with my surgeon to see about scheduling for the surgery I need on my shoulder/arm (torn tendon). I have been living with constant pain for WEEKS and I need to get this fixed so that I can start to function properly again.
I cannot wait for my life to get back on track. The last time I was at work was March 12th. I have also been outside of our teeny, tiny condo about a half a dozen times since then, and that was only to go tot he bank for quarters to do laundry (we have to pay for the washer/dryer in our condo building basement), and for doctor’s appointments. That’s it! To say that I have “cabin fever” is an understatement.
I have felt very isolated for several weeks. I do enjoy the company of my family, but my husband and son have never stopped working (they are “essential workers”), so they have been out of our home for 8 hours a day, five days per week. I did have my daughter at home with me for a while, but she has also returned to work (restaurant). Now it’s just me home alone with our cats and Goldfish. I do talk to them, but it’s not the same as talking to a real person.
Feeling alone and isolated is at an all time high these days. It’s just not me. It’s affecting thousands, if not millions, of people here in the U.S. and around the world. Being stuck at home 24/7, and for some, with no human interaction, can have long term effects on our overall mental and physical health.
Human beings are social creatures by nature. Without social interaction and connecting with others, we risk the chance of mental and physical ailments. In fact, loneliness has been linked to health issues such as cardiovascular health risks, inflammation, obesity, and accelerated aging. In addition, suicide is also a risk for people who feel alone (mentally and physically alone).
I won’t go into too much detail about the risk factors of social isolation and loneliness, because I am not a medical professional. If you are interested in learning more about this topic, I would recommend reading this article about the subject.
If you find yourself feeling alone and missing being able to interact with other people (even those outside of your immediate family), here are some things you can do.
Connect with family, friends and co-workers on Zoom or other video conferencing platforms.
Technology is an amazing thing. Back when I was a young adult, I could never imagine being able to talk to a friend on a mobile device (and not tethered to a wall by a cord). Nor could I picture myself watching a blockbuster film in my hand, on the go. It blows my mind thinking about how much life has changed since the creation of things like smartphones and tablets.
With today’s technology, you can connect with people around the world with a simple platform. Not only can you talk to other people, even multiple people at the same time, but you can also see them in real time. How amazing is that?
My cousin connected with me through an app called Marco Polo. It’s like video conferencing, except the other person (or people) don’t have to be online at the same time. You can record video messages any time it’s convenient for you, and those you wish to connect with can watch your video (and respond) when it’s convenient for them. We have been using this app for a few weeks now, and I love it. Even my 70+ year old aunt uses the app and has sent me a video message with it. It’s amazing!
Participate in a “drive by” (or create one yourself).
Are you familiar with a “drive by?” It’s very popular these days. A “drive by” is when a group of people get together to form a parade (in their cars!) and drive by a person’s home (or a place of business). As drivers pass by they honk their horns, shout out special messages (“Happy Birthday,” “Thank you,” “Congratulations…”), and sometimes hold up signs (passengers, not the driver) and balloons. I’m actually participating in one this evening for our friend’s daughter’s birthday, which is today. A group of people, in their cars so it’s compliant with social distrancing, are meeting up at a specific spot on their road, and then at 5:30 we will begin our procession and drive past their home, honk our homes and should out “happy birthday.” My husband (the crazy person that he is) is going to dress as Santa and run out and place balloons and a gift on the end of her drive way (again, social distancing). He was SUPPOSE to be dressed as Mr. Potato Head, but the costume (when inflated) doesn’t fit in the car. The only other costume he has is Santa. Our friends know we’re silly people, so they won’t be shocked one bit. LOL!
You can find information about “drive by” events on Facebook (check out any local groups in your area). You can also create your own group and set up events. Not only does it get you out of the house in a safe manner, it’s a great way to connect with others and maybe even make some new friends.
Go “old school.”
I know this might seem crazy, but taking a pen to paper and writing an actual letter, is another great way to feel connected with others. Not only that, it gives you something to look forward to in your mailbox. You don’t even have to make a trip to the post office. You can purchase stamps online and have them delivered to you.
Pick up the phone! And I don’t mean texting.
It’s so easy to shoot someone a text message. But a text cannot convey emotions. Typing “LOL” doesn’t have the same effect as hearing someone laugh.
Instead of texting your friend or family member, pick up the phone and actually CALL THEM. You connect with people so much more when you can hear their voices. A text can never replace that.
Ge out of your home.
If your part of the country is opening up quarantine restrictions, but you still must maintain social distancing, you can still meet up with people.
My daughter and her friends are great at getting together, without coming together. What I mean is, they “hang out” but keep their distance at the same time.
Once they met in a local parking lot, each bringing their own lunch, and they sat in their cars (parked close to each other – but well past six feet apart). They were able to see each other and have a conversation without getting too close.
Another time my daughter and a friend of hers met at a park where not too many people hang out and went for a hike, the whole time keeping their distance.
If your area no longer requires a quarantine, I would strongly suggest meeting up with family and friends in creative ways, but keep your distance.
I’m sure there are plenty other things you can do to keep from feeling isolated and lonely.
Please consider the mental and physical health of others you know that might be experiencing the negative effects of being isolated and feeling lonely. Please check in on these people often, most especially the elderly.
Be healthy and stay safe!
*I have partnered with BetterHelp on this post. Although compensated, the entire post was written by me and not influenced in any way.