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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
Make a list of the people you miss. This may be friends,
family, or colleagues.
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.
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
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