Living with Chronic Pain
Tips for Dealing With Isolation
Social distancing is essential to prevent the spread of highly contagious illnesses, but it can lead to isolation; this can cause feelings of sadness, boredom, loneliness, frustration, and other negative emotions. However, steps can be taken to reduce any negative effects on mental or physical health. Some tips for dealing with isolation include the following:
If social distancing creates feelings of isolation, focus instead on distant socializing. Keep in touch with friends and family through virtual methods, such as text messages, e-mails, phone calls, or social media. Discuss feelings about current events but also talk about other things unrelated to the news of the day. Free programs that can help people stay in touch include the following:
- Facebook — Facebook Messenger offers video chat and voice call options in addition to text messages. Facebook Watch allows individuals to watch videos with friends.
- Zoom — This video-conferencing site allows free calls for up to 40 minutes. Try throwing a Zoom party where everyone can see and talk to each other from the safety of their own homes.
- Google Hangouts — Google Hangouts allows individuals to send messages and conduct free voice or video calls.
- Marco Polo — This app provides a private place for friends and families to connect. People can send and respond to video messages whenever they have time instead of trying to schedule a live call.
Limit news and social media consumption
Check trusted resources, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and local or national government, for essential information. Make sure to maintain a life balance with activities away from the television or computer, such as reading, playing an instrument, working on a puzzle, or going for a walk.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle
Taking care of physical health can help manage anxiety or stress. Ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle include the following:
- Get seven to nine hours of sleep each night.
- Eat a well-balanced diet.
- Engage in physical activity, such as going for a walk or practicing yoga.
- Avoid using alcohol or drugs as coping mechanisms.
- Stay hydrated.
- Avoid excessive amounts of caffeine.
Learn a new skill or hobby
Since isolation often creates an abundance of free time, put that time to good use by learning a new language, practicing a new hobby, or trying a new recipe.
Maintain a schedule or daily routine
Set specific times for waking up and going to bed. Schedule time for work, exercise, learning, relaxation, and other healthy pastimes. This maintains a sense of order and purpose.
Helping others is another way to gain a sense of purpose. Send a text or make a call to check on a friend or family member. Use sidewalk chalk to write uplifting messages for neighbors. If possible, donate items to a local food bank or shelter.
Seek help if needed
If feelings of isolation, anxiety, or sadness are overwhelming, reach out to a physician or counselor for help. Many health professionals offer phone or video sessions.
If feelings and thoughts become overwhelming or an individual is in crisis, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or IMALIVE online crisis support at https://www.imalive.org/.