If you’re feeling lonely from lack of interaction during this time of social isolation, take advantage of these four strategies to help you get through:
1. Keep a schedule—including time for self-care. Write out a schedule every morning to help you notice things on your to-do list that bring you joy. Include time for self-care, the same way you did when you were leaving your house regularly. Just because your new normal has interrupted the regular flow of your life doesn’t mean activities that relaxed you before have stopped working. If you enjoyed a bubble bath while listening to jazz and sipping a glass of wine, let the music play and take that bath with your favorite merlot on hand. Are you worried about money or unemployment? You still need me time. If you don’t practice self-care, you’ll be lonely and stressed, which isn’t the best frame of mind to be in when you’re trying to find solutions.
2. Decide how much—or how little—you want to connect. One day may be full of back-to-back-to-back phone calls and virtual meetings, with a Zoom meetup with your girls tacked on for good measure. The next day you may want to put your phone under a pillow and ignore all communication for 24 hours. There’s no right number of face-to-face interactions, only the right balance for you.
3. Write in your journal. If journaling before sheltering at home was your thing, keep it up. If you didn’t (or haven’t since middle school), start. A blank journal isn’t required; you can use your phone’s voice memo feature. You also don’t need to write the prelude to your great American novel. For journaling to be helpful, a minute will do. Are you suffering from writer’s block? Ask yourself:
- How am I feeling?
- What am I doing?
- What am I thinking?
If those questions don’t work for you, focus on your blessings. Too often we get caught up in what’s missing and we fail to acknowledge the things we have that make us grateful. Do you have food, toilet paper, hand sanitizer and other essentials at home? Is everyone you love healthy? Is your family healthy? Are your children happy? Did something make you laugh today?
4. Forget expectations. Ignore articles that pressure you to use your isolation as the time to reorganize your closets, learn to cook all of Julia Child’s recipes and pull together the business plan for your next side gig—all while painting the next Mona Lisa. It’s great if you run 10 miles, and you should celebrate that achievement. But you should also be gentle with yourself and cheer the days when the best you can manage is changing out of your pajamas. We’re in the middle of a pandemic and you finished last week’s crossword puzzle? Girl, you’re amazing.