Added: Matthews Clegg - Date: 03.01.2022 17:34 - Views: 17295 - Clicks: 3431
D riving around her Kearney, Missouri neighborhood is both respite and torture for Kathie Hodgson. But Hodgson, a year-old teacher who lives alone after a recent divorce, says seeing happy families playing in their yards or walking their dogs can also send her plunging deep into a spiral of loneliness. Can I last sanely living alone for months—a year?
The coronavirus has exacerbated that problem, with most face-to-face socializing for people still under lockdown orders indefinitely limited to members of their own households. For the On the other hand, some mental health advocates are optimistic that COVID will finally give loneliness the mainstream recognition it deserves—possibly paving the way for a more socially connected future.
For such a common experience, loneliness is surprisingly slippery to define clinically. Loneliness is not included in the DSM-5, the official diagnostic manual for mental health disorders, but it goes hand-in-hand with many conditions that are. Carla Perissinotto, a geriatrician at the University of California, San Francisco who studies loneliness. Loneliness is a feeling only the person experiencing it can truly identify.
In any case, studies show chronic loneliness has clear links to an array of health problems, including dementia, depression, anxiety, self-harm, heart conditions and substance abuse. People without social support also have lower chances of full recovery after a serious illness than people with a strong network, studies show. The health consequences of loneliness are often likened to the effects of smoking 15 cigarettes a day—and far more common. Since lockdowns and stay-at-home orders were instated, roughly a third of American adults report feeling lonelier than usual, according to an April survey by social-advice company SocialPro.
If the stereotype of a lonely person Loney n need company a frail, elderly adult who lives alone, the coronavirus pandemic has exposed the truth that was there all along: anyone, anywhere, of any age can experience loneliness. Nor does living situation necessarily dictate feeling. And of course, elderly adults remain at high risk of loneliness. Given their susceptibility to serious COVID infections, older adults are likely to be even more cut off from outside life.
NORC at the University of Chicago found the coronavirus pandemic has made about a third of adults 70 and older lonelier than usual. In other words, loneliness is everywhere, especially now. Technology has emerged as an imperfect solution. Video-chat platforms like Zoom are surging in popularity, and nearly every social media network is billing itself as a way to stay connected with friends virtually. Instagram in March introduced a new feature that lets friends view posts together over video chat, specifically to foster bonding during COVID isolation.
Telecom companies like Samsung have donated smart devices to help people in quarantine stay connected. There are also community groups attempting to make digital communication more meaningful. It has seen a noticeable uptick in use of its online programs, a company representative says. Other groups have popped up in direct response to the crisis.
A group of Cornell students built the platform Quarantine Buddy to match up users with similar interests for virtual conversations, and has so far attracted 8, people in 64 countries, ranging in age from 18 to But research suggests not everyone benefits equally from digital interactions. But, interestingly, research shows that loneliness may subside for younger adults when they reduce their social media usage. Jessica Pflugrath, a year-old freelance writer and editor who lives alone in Brooklyn, New York, has been relying on video chats to stay connected with her friends, but she says they bring a nagging feeling of unease.
But with few other options available, people should probably make the best of virtual platforms, says Rudolph Tanzi, vice chair of neurology and director of the genetics and aging research unit at Massachusetts General Hospital. Stress related to loneliness can trigger inflammation in the body, he says, which in turn is linked to a host of chronic conditions.
In the current context, social interaction is just as important for quelling that stress response as physical behaviors like Loney n need company enough sleep, exercising, practicing yoga or meditation, and following a balanced diet, he says. How much emotional benefit you get from virtual communication may come down to your mindset, says Jenny Taitz, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Christine-Marie Liwag Dixon, 30, has had years of practice communicating virtually. For years, Dixon has had to get by on small gestures of love, like a text or a picture of an especially good meal. That can be enough, if you frame it right, she says. But for truly lasting change, the health care system also needs to buy in. What can help now? Mindfulness training and cognitive behavioral therapy can be valuable anti-loneliness tools for people young or old, since reframing the way one perceives social support can make an appreciable difference in feelings of loneliness, Taitz says.
And these techniques can be easily taught by a mental health professional over telehealth platforms, she adds.
At the very least, COVID is making loneliness easier to talk about, which could encourage people who struggle with it to seek help or reach out to connections they do have, Perissinotto says. In one Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin studyfor example, participants rated a fictional lonely person as less likable, social, competent and attractive than a non-lonely person. Experts hope that the fact that loneliness is now mainstream and easier than ever to talk about will finally change that perception.
But when two of her roommates left her apartment to shelter in place elsewhere and the third began keeping mostly to himself, she says she found herself truly lonely for the first time she can remember—and somewhat uncomfortable with that realization. But when she decided to tweet about her feelings, she says she was met with a wave of support from people going through the same thing. Write to Jamie Ducharme at jamie. By Jamie Ducharme. The Coronavirus Brief. Please enter a valid address.
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How to Be Alone Without Being Lonely