Loneliness is a real concern right now. That makes it all the more important to connect with friends and loved ones — and those who might be especially isolated right now. Don’t cancel your book club. Do it over Zoom. Have Happy Hour with friends. Play a game on Zoom.
Finding ways to help other people can make a huge difference in your outlook. Maybe it’s having your kids write thank you notes to healthcare workers, or paying household employees who can’t come to work, or checking in (safely) on an isolated neighbor. Not only are these good things to do — they also get you out of your own head.
Honor your feelings but don’t let them control you
Let’s accept it — this moment is very, very hard. Feeling sadness, fear, anxiety, anger, trauma, grief, loss or some evolving combination of these emotions, makes total sense.
“We’re all feeling anxious, it’s an appropriate reaction,” said Dr. Mark Levine, a psychiatrist who founded Community Psychiatry, which has 50 offices throughout California.
But while fearing a virus can help us protect ourselves, by prioritizing washing our hands and social distancing, for example, allowing that fear to foment negative, catastrophic thoughts can hurt us, and impact the way we view everything else.
These “negative thought loops” often are just versions of negative thoughts we’ve dealt with for our whole lives, but they can get magnified in moments of crisis or stress, Levine said.
Ask for help
Sometimes it’s just not feasible to navigate the tricky anxiety, depression, isolation and trauma by yourself. For those who have underlying mental health conditions, for those who have experienced past traumas, for people on the frontlines in medicine, and for people who are lonely, this moment can be especially tough.
Learn more coping ideas at Coping with COVID page.