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Beacon Senior News

5 tips on how to combat loneliness during social distancing

Jun 02, 2020 09:14AM ● By Beacon Senior News

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, many people are staying in their homes to help prevent the spread of the disease even as restrictions lift. Feeling lonely from time to time is natural, but this unprecedented time of social distancing could lead to increased loneliness.

There are some easy ways to feel connected to others, even when you aren’t seeing them in person. Consider these tips from Dr. Doug Nemecek, Cigna's chief medical officer for behavioral health.

• Use technology, but not too much. Social media is an easy way to stay connected to family and friends, but too much use can leave you feeling lonely. Cigna’s 2020 U.S. Loneliness Index found that 72 percent of very heavy social media users identify themselves as lonely. Balance technology use with disconnecting and taking time for yourself. Use real-time interactions with others, like video chats, to build meaningful connections. Read a book, take a walk or do a puzzle after screen time. It may help you feel more connected. Or, share a joke with a friend from this month's Laughing Matters.

Join a virtual club or group. There are plenty of resources available to find virtual book clubs, craft communities or even fitness challenges. With MeetUp.com, you can start a new hobby, learn a skill or find others who are interested in the same things as you. Once you're comfortable going out, you’ll have new friends you can meet in person.

Mesa County Libraries offers virtual classes and meets on Facebook and Google Hangouts. They also have free virtual resources for library cardholders, such as Mango Languages, which prepares learners for conversations in over 70 languages. While gyms are open with restrictions, Crossroads Fitness is keeping patrons engaged with group class instructors hosting classes online.

Spend time outdoors. Simply leaving your house to take a jog around your neighborhood or to walk your dog a few blocks could improve your spirits, refreshing you for the next time you virtually connect with others.

Ask those you reach out to how they’re really doing. People tend to feel less lonely when connecting on a deeper level. Cigna’s study found that those who do not feel they have close relationships have an average loneliness score of nearly 15 points higher than those that do. When video chatting with friends, ask them for their most honest response when you ask how they’re doing. Everyone will likely feel better for it.

Rethink working hours. We spend approximately 90,000 hours at work over our lifetime, so how we spend that time plays an important role in how we feel overall. If you’re still working, improving your work-life balance and connecting with colleagues can reduce loneliness. Your employer may also benefit from you feeling less lonely. Lonely employees are less productive, produce lower quality work and miss more days of work. So, talk to your boss about changes you can make to how you spend your working hours.