Coping strategies for missing people or feeling lonely
Unfortunately, COVID metrics continue to get worse making it all the more important to continue to practice safety and mitigation efforts. Although vaccines have begun to roll out and enter the population we are not out of the woods yet. As discussed previously, the measures that are designed to mitigate exposure to and limit the spread of COVID does have a negative impact on our social needs for connection. However, our individual social needs are not an excuse for putting the lives of others in danger. Luckily, we are have shown to be much more resilient than we give ourselves credit for, and we can adapt to situations as needed!
Dr. Lisa Firestone has written extensively on the role of one’s “critical inner voice” and the role it plays in stress, depression, anxiety, and among other difficult emotional experiences. This is a great post by Dr. Firestone tackling how to combat feeling lonely during the pandemic. She touches on four specific coping strategies to connect emotionally with others and oneself during a time where we cannot be in close physical connection to those outside our household. They are 1. Reach out 2. Honor the feeling 3. Don’t listen to your critical inner voice 4. Practice mindfulness.
The first piece sounds easy enough, just reach out. However, when we are lonely this can be the most difficult action to take. Similarly, when we are working remotely and “zoom fatigue” starts to set in the last thing we might want to do is jump on another Zoom or Facetime. Dr. Firestone makes a great suggestion in getting creative with reaching out. By engaging in an activity, puts the focus less on the tool facilitating connection (ie. Zoom or Facetime) and on the activity we might otherwise normally bond over; socializing while cooking. The other point is the critical inner voice. In my experience, human instinct seems to be to try to deny the critical inner voice and avoid it. This approach leads to more of the critical voice, not less. Anyone who has spent time in session with me has heard me repeat the phrase, “That which we resist, persists”. Unfortunately, we do not treat our critical inner voice as we would a random rude person elsewhere in our lives. Dr. Firestone is speaking to is challenging the voice with reality. Not to let punish you by being unchecked or by attempting to ignore or deny it.
As always, this is easier said, or in this case written, than done. But we are here if you would like a little extra support in learning and implementing these, or other, coping strategies!