Some guidelines and recommendations for dealing with loneliness during quarantine.
It is clear that the situation of forced confinement that the global pandemic has dragged us into does not affect everyone in the same way.
However, there are relatively frequent problems among the population that have to do with the fact that, when everyone stays at home except for reasons of great need, our experiences tend to converge more than normal. And one of these most common experiences is loneliness.
In the following lines we will see some key ideas to know how loneliness can be faced in a health, economic and social crisis like the one we are experiencing.
From the virus crisis to the crisis of loneliness
Human beings are animals made to live in society, and this is also evident in our way of feeling and managing emotions. Any sign of lack of social interaction becomes a cause of strong discomfort if it lasts for a long time. And in this sense, the confinement derived from the state of alarm over the pandemic has caused millions of people to barely leave the house for more than a month, a period that is enough to feel very bad, in some cases.
Probably, when thinking about the idea of people feeling lonely because of confinement, those who have been spending many weeks alone in their apartments will come to mind, especially those who do not go to work outside the home.
Although this part of the population will probably tend to feel lonelier than the rest, the truth is that this type of discomfort goes beyond these extreme situations (although not uncommon for that, unfortunately) and affects more people.
The reason for this is that we do not feel alone simply by not having loved ones physically by our side, but by seeing our social life suddenly limited. The change in habits when talking, asking for news, laughing together, playing games and in general, interacting, makes many people feel radically isolated socially. What causes discomfort is, many times, the contrast between expectation and reality.
Tips for Managing Loneliness During Confinement
There are always individual differences and it is clear that each person is unique, but in general, it is possible to have several guidelines that usually help to manage the feeling of loneliness produced by a quarantine or other similar situation. They are as follows.
1. Maintain a routine of social contact
With confinement it is easy to have disorganized schedules, and with this we run the risk of leaving aside the opportunities we have to talk with others (calling on the phone, making video calls, etc.).
For this reason, something as simple as setting a schedule and following it with a certain discipline helps to have free moments that we can dedicate to cultivating those relationships without feeling bad about not taking care of our responsibilities.
2. Express yourself openly
A crisis such as this global pandemic creates a context in which it is normal to need the emotional support of others. Therefore, if there are normally no valid reasons to build a shell that hides our emotions, in a situation like this it makes even less sense : friends and loved ones in general are there precisely to help in exceptional moments.
3. Don’t miss the potential of online communities
Beyond strengthening ties with people you already know, don’t forget that on the Internet it is possible to meet more people, with the advantage that it is easy to find communities of people with common interests to ours.
4. Adopt a distanced perspective on parasocial relationships
Parasocial relationships are phenomena in which we believe we have a more or less close relationship with a person for whom, in many ways, we do not even exist.
It is something that occurs especially among young people, who spend a lot of time on the Internet exposing themselves to famous people who post on their social networks (and videos) pretending that they are having a conversation with those on the other side of the screen, and even pretend friendship.
In most cases, this is just a marketing method to retain followers by fostering that parasocial relationship, but in some cases there is a risk that a part of the audience begins to equate this false link with a real relationship and significant. Paradoxically, this type of relationship characterized by being always available produces more discomfort and loneliness, in the medium and long term.
5. Take care
Staying healthy is an indirect way of taking care of our emotional balance. If we do not get enough sleep, or eat poorly, or exercise, psychological problems will arise in one form or another, and the feeling of loneliness can be one of them.
Do you need professional psychological support for the pandemic?
If you are interested in having professional help to manage feelings of loneliness or any other form of psychological discomfort, I invite you to contact me. I am a General Health Psychologist specialized in adults and adolescents, I have a professional career of more than 15 years in this sector, and in addition to attending my office in Madrid, I offer online therapy. My contact details are available on this page.
Cacioppo, J .; Hawkley, L. (2010). Loneliness Matters: A Theorectical and Empirical Review of Consequences and Mechanisms. Annals of Behavioral Medicine. 40 (2): 218-227.
Zhou, X .; Sedikides, C .; Wildschut, T .; Gao, D. (2008). Counteracting Loneliness: On the Restorative Function of Nostalgia. Psychological Science. 19 (10): 1023-1029.