4 Easy Ways to Fight Loneliness While Isolated

As a psychiatrist, I’ve heard various levels of distress over the new coronavirus and how it’s changing our lives.

It got me thinking that as we’re practicing social distancing, we need to also put our efforts into enhancing technological intimacy.

As a modern person, you are already using the tools you have (thanks, Instafam), but it’s worth giving some thought to being more mindful about how you’re using more than social media to enhance technological intimacy.

I discovered that it’s possible to foster a sense of closeness over technology a few years ago, when I was worried about my parents’ health and moved from New York City to rural Indiana to suss things out. Psychiatry is usually an in-person job that runs on building trust and therapeutic intimacy so that people can do the tough work and speak their truth. But with the move, my couch moved to the cloud, and I had to make an effort to create closeness with my patients using technology.

Here’s what I discovered about fostering it then and some tips that hold true now:

Have real conversations over video

Your Instafam is great, but you need more than that. Video chats can really approximate in-person encounters if you really focus on them. Enhance this by finding a quiet space. I like to use noise-canceling headphones.

Turn off notifications and really focus on the person and what they may need. Be helpful if asked, but don’t get too caught up in fixing things. Use the technology to be with them in their state.

Join new groups

Group meditations! Streaming workouts! Most everything was already online and the quarantine is asking businesses and brands to really commit to digital like never before. If you have a cell signal or wi-fi, “isolation” isn’t a necessary byproduct of being at home more.

Find nature, even digitally

Maybe you only have a sunbeam in your apartment or a tiny backyard. Wherever you are, nature is somewhere. Nature helps us be more mindful and aware of what’s going on in our heads; it helps us let it go, too. If you can’t get outside, watching the natural world on a screen still helps. Immerse yourself in BBC Earth or the latest Travis Rice Snowboard video. We’ve found solace planting seeds, a patch of arugula we planted at the beginning of the crisis just sprouted.

Enjoy the space

My family and I are on Day 13 of a self-imposed quarantine on our farm. We had a lot of viral illnesses last month, traveled a lot, and live with two very tough, at-risk 80-year-olds. At the start of this, I wondered how we could emerge less traumatized by the coming weeks, with or without the help of technology. Could I be stronger? Could we be closer? Could I use this time to gain more clarity? Whatever you may need space for, now is a great time to commit to that.

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