Are you struggling with loneliness? You’re not alone. A 2017 national survey found that about 50% of Americans reported feeling alone sometimes or almost always. Since the onset of the pandemic, social restrictions have created a level of social isolation most of us have never experienced before. In fact, loneliness has become a common issue bringing people to our Atlanta anxiety therapists.
If you struggle with anxiety, you know that loneliness and feelings of isolation can exacerbate your anxiety. What complicates things even more is that your anxiety can increase the urge to isolate. Of course, we all need a little “alone time” now and then, but the fact is, we are social beings, hard-wired for social connection, and we need both.
The good news is that if you’re struggling with loneliness, there are things you can do to ease that isolation and connect with others. Of course, the ways we connect have changed with the pandemic, so those in-person coffee dates might have to wait. But, with a little planning, you can connect with friends and family, and even maybe make some new connections. Here are some tips from this Atlanta Anxiety Therapist:
Reach Out Family and Friends
If it’s been awhile since you’ve seen each other, chances are some of your family and friends might be feeling a little lonely too. Reach out to them. If you’re able to, plan a coffee date or time to do something fun. Of course, if your area is under social restrictions, consider a virtual get together. Platforms like Zoom, Facetime, and Skype make it easy for family and friends to connect. People are getting really creative with online get togethers. Think movie nights, game nights or virtual family dinners.
Make a Date With Yourself
The goal here is to intentionally not isolate. Take time to do more of the things you enjoy. Focusing on what you like allows you to focus on something other than feeling lonely.
If going out is an option, look for opportunities to get out and about, safely and within your community’s social distancing guidelines. Some ideas to try might include a walk in the park or an outdoor yoga class. You will no doubt have the opportunity to greet someone or share a smile (under your mask). Even if you’re not able to interact closely with others, you are getting out and just the experience of being around others can be comforting and help us to feel less alone.
If you’re home, you can still do fun things that keep your mind focused on something engaging. If you have a hobby you enjoy, or if there’s something you’ve wanted to try, why not now? Movies, audio books, or even online classes can let you connect with something new and keep your mind focused.
Connect Over Interests
Whether you do it in person or you connect virtually, engaging with people who have similar interests is a great way to make new social connections and, just maybe, some new friends. With so many things going virtual now, it’s easier than ever to find a group that interests you. Think online social groups, live online art classes or exercise classes. Maybe your interest is volunteering. Look for opportunities to support your cause either in person (if it’s safe to do so) or online. A lot of traditional fundraisers and volunteer support is moving online.
What avenue you choose is less important that choosing something that help you connect with others. If you’re not sure where to start or if a big activity feels overwhelming, start with one friend. Our Atlanta anxiety therapists encourage you to reach out to your people, Call or text. Make the connection.