Loneliness is the feeling of distress one feels when their social relationships are lacking compared to what they expect or desire of one’s social interactions. The issue of loneliness has recently gained attention after a psychology paper exposed the effects of loneliness as detrimental. This has further accrued widespread concern by the comparison of loneliness mortality rates to the mortality rates of death through cigarette smoking for example.
Loneliness was once thought of as an sole problem for those of retirement age and older, which has since been debunked. In actuality, loneliness is most common in two age brackets, those between the age of 15 and 25 and then those 75 and above. These two groups at greater risk during the current COVID-19 crisis, as isolation is being encouraged to flatten the curve of new cases, and may extend for for many months. Further to the above, those who are not usually at risk may find themselves feeling this way due to the unique circumstances limiting their social interaction.
It is worth noting the atypical efforts to reach out and socialise during this atypical time. This is being addressed in an article from Smart Company, it which it discussed communication of those in rural areas and suggestions on how to speak with people when they are experiencing loneliness and other hardship. A perfect example of how the community can learn to better support its members in productive ways. This is a positive step to assist those who may feel they are unequipped for such conversations, and allows people who to speak openly and constructively with those close to them and gain that valuable conversation.
It has been shown that online interactions can be similarly engaging and as meaningful as face-to-face exchanges when used to assists in ”developing digital habits that support meaningful human connections”. Video calls are recommended as they provide a way to see the cues of faces in conversations, this could be achieved by Skype, Zoom, Facebook, Messenger. New applications are also emerging that allow you to engage with your friends though a shared game or activity, such as House Party.
Other modes of engaging activity may include online games, allowing fun together without face-to-face interaction. This has been made easier by games such as Drawful 2 making themselves free to play during this time. A recent positive step of Instagram was to speed the release of their co-watching feature which allows friends to scroll Instagram together while video chatting. Another way for people to engage with each other while virtually having fun.
There has been a large number of people stepping up during this time to do amazing work for the community. Including people starting large Facebook groups to inform those of the Coronavirus situation and offer support. People have moved their physical programs such as yoga and aerobatics, online to continuing engaging with their clients. There are many ways people are adjusting their actions to limit the disruption to their lives, including reports of charitable actions, such as those offering free toilet paper to those in need. Assisting in building a sense of community.
Another example of community inclusion is the use of the website and App NextDoor which allows people living close to each other to offer services and ask for help, which could be of great help for those at risk who have been advised not to leave their homes. Those staying connected may also do so via sharing meal times with friends and family via skype and other video platforms, to restore normalcy to the interaction.
Older generations may not have the technical know-how for some new technology, so a simple use of phone calls may be more appropriate. Another suggestion in this article was to write a letter. Some times the tried and true, not technology based is more applicable and simple.
This has been a rapid change and people are likely doing their best to make the best of a challenging situation. People are adaptable, and the current times are seeing people coming up with new solutions in varying circumstances. Looking at the different ways to overcome loneliness at a challenge time.
This is beneficial in instilling confidence in ability to get through this. The innovative ways in which people are connecting with each other will help overcome mental and physiological health. The COVID-19 chaos has become an opportunity for people to rise to the occasion by helping their neighbours, keeping a safe distance and supporting each other.