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"Why do people have to be this lonely? What's the point of it all? Millions of people in this world, all of them yearning, looking to others to satisfy them, yet isolating themselves.
Why? Was the earth put here just to nourish human loneliness?” - Haruki Marukami
Human beings are social animals that have an inherent need to interact with one another. In caveman times, tribes of people formed together in order to survive. The tribe provided protection against animals or other outside groups, but it also allowed man to learn to rely on each other for food, supplies, weapons, and eventually, a sense of belonging.
Fast forward a few millennia and take a look at all of the post-apocalyptic movies and books out there. In most of the plot lines, some man or woman is looking for a community of like-minded people where there is a sense of safety and support in a chaotic universe. No matter what time period or circumstance, the need to belong and relate to others is what has kept us going as a species. Man does not usually do well all alone, for long.
The current pandemic has really put a test on our ability to remain isolated for long periods of time. Because most states have enacted stay-at-home orders, and so many businesses are closed, there isn’t a lot to go out and do safely with other people anyway, even if one wanted to break the rules. We are stuck at home, in close quarters, with our families and pets, trying to ride out the storm and stay safe. Some of us live alone and don’t have children or spouses to talk to. Regardless of your current living situation, we can all agree that the isolation can be depressing and anxiety producing. So, how do we survive it and keep our sanity intact? Here are 3 tips.
1. Get out of the house every day and get some fresh air. Mandatory isolation is difficult enough, but trying to survive it indoors the entire time will just add to your depression and anxiety. The outdoors is good for your mental health, and exercise produces endorphins which help to stabilize anxiety levels. Just a twenty-minute walk everyday can do wonders for your depression, according to several studies. Pop on your mask and take a walk around the neighborhood. Or, take a long drive and listen to some good music. Either way, you’ll be amazed at how much better you feel when you get home.
2. Keep in touch with friends but be wary of too much social media time. Calling your friends is a great way to get through feeling isolated at home alone. It’s great to share a laugh with someone you care about, or complain about the virus together. But be careful about how much time you spend on social media. Social media in small amounts can be good in order to interact with others, but there tends to be a lot of negativity on social media as well. People share news articles or updates on those who are sick, and this can make your anxiety feel even worse. Try to use social media only to keep in touch with friends, and skimp out on the negative parts as much as possible.
3. Pick up a new hobby or activity. Yes, a lot of hobbies and activities have to be done outside of the house, such as fishing or horseback-riding. But there are so many hobbies that you can start at your house which will keep you occupied. Ever wanted to learn a foreign language? Why not learn now? Or watch a you tube tutorial on how to do your makeup properly, and start experimenting. Learn to crochet. Use the exercise bike in the garage that’s gathering dust. Read as many books as you can. Use this time to enrich your mind and expand your creativity. After all, when will you have this type of time again once things go back to normal?
Mandatory isolation can be tough for those who are struggling with anxiety and depression, but there are ways to make the best of it. While we find ways to survive this the best that we can, we will never again take for granted the ability to get coffee with a friend at Starbucks, or eat a delicious meal at our favorite restaurant. Perhaps after this pandemic, the bright side will be our new-found ability to value the friendships we have and the community we are a part of outside of our homes.