NYC Psychotherapist Blog

power by WikipediaMindmap

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Coping with Loneliness and Isolation During the COVID-19 Crisis

In the past, I have written about loneliness and social isolation (see my article: Overcoming Loneliness and Social Isolation).

Coping with Loneliness and Isolation During the COVID-19 Crisis
During the COVID-19 crisis, one of the biggest challenges, along with staying physically health is social distancing and isolating in our homesd, which often creates loneliness.

As social beings, we need social engagement with other people, but it is very important that we limit our social contact based on the restrictions in our particular state (see my articles: Coping and Staying Calm During the COVID-19 Crisis).

The Negative Impact of Loneliness and Social Isolation
Loneliness and social isolation, even under normal circumstances, can have adverse health and mental health effects, including:
  • Memory problems
  • Learning problems
  • Poor decision making
  • Altered brain function
  • Depression
  • Increased stress
  • Insomnia
  • Weight gain due to sedentary behavior
  • Cardiovascular disease and stroke
  • Progression of dementia
  • Alcoholism, drug problems, increased nicotine abuse, compulsive gambling, overeating and other related addictive and compulsive behavior (see my articles: )
  • Antisocial behavior
  • And other related issues
Even before the current health crisis, loneliness was already a health and mental health problem for people who are isolated, including the elderly and the disabled.  According to recent studies, loneliness has tripled since 1985.

So, given the negatiave effects of loneliness, we need to find other creative ways to stay in contact with loved ones if they're not present in our household.

Combating Loneliness
Even though social distancing during this time presents a unique challenge to feeling lonely and isolated, there are things you can do to mitigate the effects of loneliness (see my article: Solitude vs Loneliness), including:
  • Video Chats: The next best thing to being with loved ones in person is video chat.  There are many free apps, like Zoom, Skype, What's App and other similar services where you can video chat with loved ones.  All of these services offer a free version of video chat.  Being able to see a loved ones face while you speak with them can be soothing and reassuring for both of you.  You can choose to set up a regular time when you can video chat with loved ones to check in and mitigate loneliness and isolation.
  • Phone Calls: If video chat isn't available to you or if you don't like chatting online, simple phone calls to talk for a few minutes can really help you and your love to feel more connected.  Reaching out to a friend or family member that you haven't spoken to in a while can be reassuring to them and to you.
  • Digital Support Groups: If you're connected to a community where the participants have a mutual interest, you can maintain contact with them online to feel supported and engaged through digital support groups.
  • Expressions of Kindness and Concern: When you're on someone's social media site, whether it's Facebook or any other social media platform, it only takes a moment to reach out to that person with a kind remark, an expression of appreciation or an inquiry as to how that person is doing.  It feels good to do this and it also feels good for the person on the other hand who receives your kind expression. 
Getting Help in Therapy
Loneliness and social isolation can contribute to or exacerbate existing emotional problems, including depression and anxiety.

If you're feeling overwhelmed, many psychotherapists are conducting online sessions for clients, and you could benefit from getting professional help rather than allowing your emotional problems to get worse.

If you're feel suicidal, you should call 911 to get immediate help.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works with individuals and couples (Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples).

Currently, I am doing therapy with phone sessions and Zoom online video sessions for clients in New York State.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.