Though most of the country is slowly starting to “reopen,” there’s no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted people in more ways than one.

While the media and doctors have focused on the physical implications of this virus, the reality is that the consequences of trying to flatten the curve have contributed to a variety of mental health issues. That includes loneliness. 

One of the critical components of keeping people safe has been social distancing. 

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At one point, over 95% of the U.S. was under some lockdown or stay-at-home order. Even now, people nationwide are still being asked to stay home as much as possible and avoid large crowds. 

But when you can’t regularly see your family or friends, it can take a toll on how you feel. Loneliness is more dangerous than most people realize.

So, how can you combat it while practicing social distancing? 

Understand the Impact of Loneliness

One of the most important things is not to brush off your loneliness. You’re not overreacting, and you’re not ridiculous. If you’re feeling lonely, acknowledge it. 

Loneliness has been shown to cause a variety of health issues, including: 

The uncertainty surrounding this pandemic can also lead to mental health issues like stress, anxiety, and depression. Adding loneliness into the equation only makes things more difficult. So, what can you do?

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Take Advantage of Technology to Combat Loneliness

If there’s a silver lining to social distancing in the 21st century, it’s that we have the technology to “stay connected.” 

Some people have had the opportunity to work from home/remotely over the last several months. If that’s the case, don’t be afraid to reach out to your co-workers the way you would if you were working together. Zoom meetings are great for getting everyone together. But, why not suggest a virtual team-building exercise or fun event that can keep you all connected? 

Speaking of Zoom, it has taken on a life of its own throughout this pandemic. It’s one of the most effective ways to video chat with multiple people at once, no matter where you are.

Of course, there are also a host of other platforms that can help you stay connected while seeing people you care about. Apps like FaceTime and Skype are great for video chats. And Netflix has even launched a feature called ‘Netflix Party’ that allows you to watch movies or shows with your friends or family while you’re apart. 

Whether it’s a quick email, a phone call, or a video chat, utilize technology to the fullest when you have to be apart from someone. It’s one of the best ways to stay connected in times like these. 

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Get Outside to Boost Mental Health

Stepping outside for a little while each day can help to restore some normalcy. You’ll see that the world is still out there! People are out exercising, walking pets, or working in their yards. 

Just seeing people out and about can help you feel less alone, even if you can’t get too close to them. Plus, being outside (especially in the sunshine!) is a natural mood-booster and can also give you more energy. 

Try Online Therapy

If you’re struggling with loneliness and need someone to talk to, you might want to consider online therapy or teletherapy

Telehealth has become increasingly popular in recent years, and even more so since the coronavirus pandemic, including online counseling. No matter where you are in the world, you can find a therapist willing to work with you. All you need is a stable internet connection and a private place to talk. 

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The good news? This strange time of social distancing will eventually pass. Whether we go back to normal or have to deal with a “new normal,” the feelings of loneliness won’t last forever. If you’re worried about the effects of social distancing on your mental health, don’t wait to address those feelings.  Blue Boat Counseling offers online therapy for those struggling with depression, anxiety, and stress living in the state of Ohio.  Contact us today to schedule an online appointment with one of our Columbus therapists. We can help.