COVID-19 has changed daily patterns of life for virtually every human being on this planet. For many, these changes created an elevated sense of anxiety. According to health experts, the experiences of quarantine, self-isolation, social distancing, and wearing masks are triggering increases in depression and loneliness, as well as anxiety, in many people.
We are all social creatures and need to experience personal connection. Many of our friendly interactions with other people are no longer happening, including handshakes, hugs, and just being close. Social isolation induces stress. Those of us who wrestle with poor self-image know the pain that comes with isolation. In the past, we may have built walls and even turned away from friends or family for fear of facing judgment about our eating habits or the way we look.
Many of us have worked hard to break out of those old habits and make healthy connections. We now face new challenges due to this pandemic and the types of social isolation it has imposed upon our community. Relapses are more common during times of stress. This is nothing to feel guilty about. At the same time, it is within our power to get back on track and go forward. Now is the time to expand our coping skills. The following ideas may help:
- Stay connected with your therapist and support system
- Maintain a schedule for regular meals and snacks
- Adjust to a new, healthy routine
- Practice self-compassion and self-care
With the help of professional therapy and a support system, we can find new ways to overcome the obstacles that COVID-19 has put in our paths. We also need to take time to nourish our entire being with the right balance of sleep, exercise, and healthy nutrition. Building a trusted social support network can help us dismantle the negative perceptions that have accumulated over the years. Connecting and building our community of support is one of the most effective coping skills available to us.
During a pandemic, our community of support may be a combination of in-person interactions and virtual connections. Facetime and Zoom meetings have become the norm. Social media connections may also help. However, we must exercise care in that area. If a social media account causes anxiety, it may be best to turn our attention to avenues that are more uplifting.
Whether we receive support online or in-person, it should come from a place of compassion and acceptance that is free of judgement. Joining a support group is one way to start building a network of connections. Sharing stories and breaking down walls of isolation can provide us with the resilience that we need to get through the pandemic.
In a support group, we are likely to discover that others have experienced difficulties that our similar to our own. Group members may also expose us to different interests or hobbies that we never considered before, thereby opening us up to new, fulfilling experiences. Joanne Gerr, L.C.S.W. offers compassionate guidance to help people build a strong social network and move further along the road to recovery. To join a support group or for individual counseling, call 212-750-8130 or fill out an online form today. Located in Manhattan and Highland Park, New Jersey, our New Jersey therapist helps individuals throughout Highland Park, East Brunswick, Manalapan Township, Marlboro, Westfield, and New York City.