While many are isolating with family and friends during the coronavirus outbreak, those who live alone are facing a unique set of challenges fighting feelings of loneliness, anxiety and depression by themselves.
But does “being alone” have to equal “feeling lonely?” Dr. Jen Hartstein, Yahoo Life Mental Health Contributor and practicing psychologist in New York City, says it doesn’t.
“‘Alone’ does not mean we are ‘lonely.’ That’s something we really all have to remember,” says Hartstein. “Some of us might feel lonely even when we’re home with our families because we just don’t relate to them the way we might want.”
Hartstein says there are questions we can ask ourselves if we’re concerned we might be experiencing feelings of loneliness.
“Notice internally—how am I feeling? Am I feeling disconnected? Am I feeling like I want to connect more but don’t know how? Am I kind of getting judgmental of myself and feeling ‘needy?’” she says.
Hartstein adds that “all of these things kind of are little indicators that maybe I’m moving into a ‘loneliness’ category.”
If you’re experiencing these feelings, she says there are ways to combat them.
“Step number one is to connect. Community is the best protective factor we have—connect with someone else. Find a safe person to connect with who might not give you a hard time that you haven’t connected, but reach out to them,” she says.
“The second thing is to get yourself active. It’s very easy to become inactive, shut down and do nothing. So get yourself active. Clean your apartment, get outside for a walk, do some jumping jacks—anything. Just get moving a little bit to shift the endorphins,” adds Hartstein.
Finally, Hartstein recommends creating a routine for yourself.
“The structure will help you create that space that you need to be engaged and take care of yourself simultaneously,” she says.