As public health officials work to slow the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), many have recommended social distancing and self-quarantining. Most provinces across the country have issued orders for people to stay at home unless it’s essential they leave, and some employers have had to send employees home or ask them to work remotely. While these actions can help slow the spread, they can have negative effects on your mental health.
What Is Loneliness?
While the words may sound alike, loneliness and being alone are not the same thing. Loneliness is a subject that has been studied for a long time in psychological literature.
Loneliness can lead to an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and dementia. According to experts, loneliness and social isolation can be as damaging as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
Overcoming Loneliness During the Pandemic
If you’re feeling lonely in these uncertain times, you’re not alone. Many Canadians are trying to overcome those same feelings. Fortunately, there are many things that you can do to fight loneliness and maintain your mental well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Stick to a Schedule
One of the best things that you can do to fight loneliness is to create a new normal by sticking to a schedule. For example, if you’re used to going to the gym before work, try to wake up early and get an at-home workout in before you start your workday from home. Build in times for meals and short breaks like you would for a normal workday in the office.
Maintaining as much normalcy as possible with your daily routine can help lift your mood and prevent boredom and distress from taking over. It can also help make the days feel structured rather than long and endless.
Use Technology to Connect With Loved Ones
When in quarantine or self-isolation, it can be easy to feel lonely. Fortunately, advancements in technology have made it easy to connect with others without having to physically be in contact with them. Experts recommend reaching out to loved ones with technology to reduce feelings of loneliness and anxiety, and to supplement your social life while you’re quarantining or social distancing. If you’re feeling down, use video-calling technology or social media to get in touch with friends and family.
For more assistance with your mental health in the wake of COVID-19, please visit the City of Ottawa's Mental Health website.