Coping with Social Isolation - MindSpot Clinic

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Coping with Social Isolation

Due to COVID-19, most of us are either social distancing, self-isolating, or self-quarantining. Although this is important to keep ourselves and others safe, it does bring with it a whole set of challenges. With many of us spending more time at home or on our own, one of the biggest challenges we are faced with is dealing with feelings of isolation.

Social isolation refers to experiencing a lack of social interaction with friends, family, colleagues, neighbours, community and society. Whilst there are some people that are comfortable with their own company, there are many others who do enjoy spending time with others and may be struggling to adjust.

As humans, we are social beings who thrive on meaningful connections with others. Not having enough social connection can negatively impact our mental health and wellbeing, so we do need to prioritise staying connected with others during this challenging time. Due to various government restrictions, we may not be able to see our loved ones as we normally would. However, it is important for us to think about the ways we can increase or enhance our social interactions with others in ways that are within our control.

A Strategy For Now: Make a Plan

Most of us know that as humans social connection is crucial. As our usual ways of engaging with others may not be available at this time, it’s up to us to adapt how we connect with others. Doing things differently isn’t always easy. To get started, it often helps to break things down and make a plan. If you’re struggling to stay connected and this time, or want to increase your social connection, you may find the following three steps helpful:
  1. Make a list of the people you miss. This may be friends, family, or colleagues.
  2. Pick a person from your list. Get in touch using an immediate form of communication, like SMS, email, or social media. Or schedule a time for a phone or video call with them using apps such as FaceTime, Skype or Zoom.
  3. Set yourself a goal. For example, touching base with someone every single day, even if it is brief. You can even set a goal with a loved one, for example having one phone call together a week. Setting yourself a weekly goal or challenge can help you keep focused and accountable.

A Longer-Term Strategy: Activity Scheduling

Activity scheduling is a skill that helps people become more active. In this case, we are using this skill to become more socially active. As the name suggests, it involves selecting social activities and choosing when to schedule them in. We know that planning activities ahead of time increases the likelihood they will happen. Activity scheduling is one way we can directly address feelings of social isolation.

If you need help choosing activities and scheduling them in, you may find our activities list (adapted for people who are social distancing and self-isolating) and activity planner helpful:

Looking For More Support?

We recommend you consult with your GP, who can discuss local support or treatment options with you. They can prepare a Mental Health Care Plan, which will enable you to access treatment services with a Psychologist or Psychiatrist through Medicare, or a referral to local Community Mental Health Services. Your GP can also provide a physical check-up, if you haven’t had one recently. Your physical health can affect your emotional wellbeing.

If you don’t have one already, you can find a GP in your local area at Beyond Blue.

Another option is online treatment. The MindSpot Clinic offers free online and telephone delivered Treatment Courses which help people manage their symptoms stress, anxiety, low mood and depression.

Additional Resources