In November 2020, the Office for National Statistics released findings that showed levels of loneliness had climbed to record levels within the past year of the Covid-19 pandemic. The findings showed that 8% of adults were feeling “always or often lonely,” and 16-29-year-olds were twice as likely to experience those same feelings of isolation, anxiety, and depression.
Even individuals who were previously living by themselves have claimed that this pandemic has forced them to rethink their entire way of life. Some experts claim that long-term social isolation is as bad for your health as 15 cigarettes a day; obviously this is in reference to complete and total isolation, however, being trapped in your home with nothing but a smartphone to show you the outside world is anything but healthy.
Many individuals living alone have also found themselves in the unlucky position of being unemployed due to the decline in economies throughout the world as well. The combination of complete solitude and lack of employment is leaving individuals to get trapped in their own heads, and being in the middle of a deadly global pandemic is causing those inner voices to become much louder.
Brenda is a 71-year-old UK resident who lives by herself. She recently spoke with the media about how the pandemic and its isolation has given a lot of people the opportunity to self-reflect, which doesn’t always have to be a bad thing.
“I’m not the sort of person who thinks about dying, but I suddenly found myself wanting to clear my papers and get rid of clutter, as it wouldn’t be fair on my daughters if I passed. All the things I’d ignored by surrounding myself with others came to the front of my mind,” she explained as she broke down how a lot of us have also lost the ability to interact with each other because of this pandemic.
“What I found odd, having been very sociable before, was that you almost lose the art of it. A friend turned 70 last summer and her daughter threw a party; 15 people were allowed. I really looked forward to it but on the day I felt strange. I always liked living by myself, but total isolation from society is a different thing altogether. As the year wore on I missed people terribly and fell into some real slumps.”
Lonely people are much more likely to turn to negative vices, like drinking and smoking, when left in complete isolation. The addition of a deadly virus spreading around the world has many individuals caring less about their health when it should have the opposite effect. Experts claim the best way to combat this is creating a daily schedule for yourself that allows you time to explore your creative side and pick up some new hobbies.
Many individuals have turned to things like baking bread, painting, knitting, puzzles, running, etc. to pass the time and better their lives while stuck inside. Doing activities that stimulate your body, mind, and spirit and keep you engaged are the best for combatting these negative feelings.
One of the most important things to remember, however, is to really listen to yourself and your feelings. No one should ever feel alone, even if they’re living on the top of a hill thousands of miles away from everyone. Take care of your body and mind, and look into online therapy options if you think talking out your thoughts will help you move past them. Many of us have been focusing on keeping our bodies healthy throughout this pandemic due to the virus, but don’t forget that mental health is just as important as physical health, if not more important. Treat yourself kindly, and never be afraid to ask for help.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at email@example.com.