The Circle Line

How to Deal with Isolation


Loneliness can also be an epidemic

Time on our own can be great. But humans are social beings. We need contact. We need each other.

Amidst the Covid social distancing measures, whilst we might know they are prudent and want to do our bit, indications are that these measures are for the long-haul.

So we need to look after ourselves.

Humans are Social Beings

We need other people. Acknowledging that is key.

Whether it’s a daily pint, a chat, having a laugh at the watercooler… all the levels of human interaction we enjoy, from the fleeting ones, to the deeper connections, are important. They keep us mentally healthy.

The Covid situation is likely to change this. Particularly if we live alone, something like Covid can make it harder to cope – but there are many ways to stay connected and many people out there to do it with. We are not alone.

We need other people

Being alone can be restorative. And seeking solitude is something sometimes we need to learn how to do and experience just how good it can be for us. But the Covid virus is different. It’s going to enforce solitude – and that can bring loneliness.

“Loneliness is my least favourite thing about life. The thing that I’m most worried about is just being alone without anybody to care for or someone who will care for me.”

—Anne Hathaway

In normal times we can connect in various ways – from social rituals, shared activities, to intimacy. Whatever the level of social connection you are used to and that you seek – take note of what you need.

A group of people put their hands into a circle, showing togetherness

Finding a new kind of togetherness

It’s normal and very desirable to need human connection – and we all look after ourselves and others right now.

“Keep in mind that to avoid loneliness, many people need both a social circle and an intimate attachment. Having just one of two may still leave you feeling lonely.”

—Gretchen Rubin

Let’s not leave it too long before getting what we need. Act early. Going too far into withdrawal and loneliness can make it feel harder to get back to normal.

Connecting on different levels

In these strange times, without the shallow but important daily social connections we all make – we might find we need someone to really talk to. To share our fears, our plans for when Covid is over, the people we miss and feelings that this global outbreak is triggering. That’s where a professional can help.

Get talking

It might even help you get something more positive out of this extraordinary epidemic.

Keeping ourselves connected

Here are 7 ways to cope when you’re feeling isolated in these trying times, even if some of the methods are more distant than we want or are used to:

  1. Rise, routine, variety: Make sure you get up as usual, shower and dress as usual, exercise (indoors…) as usual, and use both routine and variety in your days to keep the spice of life alive.
  2. Escape: Re-watch every 1980s action film ever made, the entire Tarantino collection, I Am Not Okay With This, The Stranger, Sex Education… old school Columbo, or a really great novel – whatever floats your boat, a bit of escapism from the comfort of your sofa and the strife of daily news right now is no bad thing.
  3. Stay connected online: The internet and social media – used positively – is there for us as a way to connect. Meet your friends online, face-time as much as you can, and chat and listen on social. Whether you normally love it or hate it, the usual culprits, Insta, FB and the like are alive, and there are tons of more niche chatrooms and social sites around. So in between some escapism – connect and reach out.  BUT… all the below actions are just as important, and offer us a new opportunity whilst we’re stuck indoors…
  4. Identify personal projects: It can help keep your mindset positive. What have you wanted to do for ages but haven’t got round to? Now’s the time. Staying in can be productive. There are ways to get more from this period of social-distancing. A stack of novels you’ve always wanted to read? Crafts you’ve wanted to learn? A book you’ve always wanted to write? Practice the guitar? Grow cress? Decorate? It could be anything. Now’s the time.
  5. Rest and relax: When have our diaries ever looked so free? Embrace it! Use this opportunity to relax. Mixed with the other steps on this list, we might take the opportunity to find relief in the peace, with no commuting, no dashing around. And relaxing is good for our immune system. So breathe from your belly. Meditate if you like to. Sleep as much as you need.
  6. Action plan: Identify some goal you can achieve alone in the next few months. TV, social media etc are all great for occupying our time if we want, but achieving something feels completely different. It gives you a sense of mastery. Whether it’s exercise to achieve a fitness or weight goal, learning a new skill, or finishing a passion project – set your sights and use it when it helps.
  7. Talk to a therapist online: It helps us a) deal with everything that is happening right now, b) give us a chance to focus on keeping ourselves mentally well, and c) perhaps even give us a chance to get to know ourselves – as a husband, girlfriend, friend or colleague, and just as us – we might even emerge better for it. And if your mood is low and you find you can’t get any enjoyment from life for more than 10-14 days, do talk to a professional here online sooner rather than later.

It can be very difficult when we are alone too much to focus, to stay balanced, to keep motivated. And we all need support through the tough things in life – whether we live alone or not. So take heed of your mental state early on. Keep checking in with yourself. There’s no shame in reaching out.

Find your therapist

There may be some loneliness ahead. But there is also support and connection on every level out there; the internet is our friend and together we will get through this.

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