A 2016 study found that members of the LGBTQ+ community who live alone or with someone other than a partner reported higher degrees of loneliness than those living with a spouse. Loneliness has long been a problem in the LGBTQ+ community, but with current lockdown restrictions in place across the globe, many more people find themselves in prolonged isolation than ever before. If you’ve been forced into isolation due to Covid-19, what can you do during this time to keep yourself entertained and your mental health intact?
Stay Social From A Distance
There are significant links between social isolation and a decline in mental health, as illustrated by a review of studies included in the journal Public Health. Prioritizing your mental health while you’re in isolation is, therefore, crucial, and some of this will be down to remaining social while still being socially distant. This can be done by regularly connecting with family and friends using video services like Zoom or Skype, or even a good old-fashioned phone call.
There are ways to stay connected without talking too, and sometimes this is easier to align with other people’s schedules. Use social media interactively, engaging with your friends’ posts and regularly updating your status. Now might be a good time to take up gaming too. Once a solitary pursuit or one that required a group of friends huddled around one device, the internet allows you to connect with others through a shared interest and a welcome distraction from the pandemic. There is now a huge range of video games that allow you to interact with your friends (or strangers, if you prefer) in real time, helping you to maintain your sense of social community.
Often overlooked when we’re thinking about mental health, our physical health is a significant part of the equation. If you refrain from exercising during isolation, this will affect how well you’re able to cope mentally. If the lockdown restrictions in your region allow you to get outside for exercise, try to do this once a day. Studies have shown that walking in nature can improve symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress, and the physical activity will do you good too.
If you can’t get outside, look online for home workouts to suit your ability level. YouTube has a variety of workouts to suit a range of tastes and skills. This could also be an opportunity to pick up a new hobby. If you have exercise equipment at home, be sure to use this too, and try to incorporate both strength and cardio workouts for optimum physical as well as mental health.
Also contributing to loneliness during lockdown can be the feeling that our lives have lost meaning. While your normal routines may be on hold, there are still ways you can inject value into your life. This is particularly important if you feel that you’re beginning to lose grasp of your sense of self. Try to dedicate a small portion of each day to doing something that’s meaningful to you. This could be signing up for a course, researching your family history or signing up for online voluntary work. It could be practising a musical instrument, reading, or trying your hand at painting. What you choose will be personal to you, but the crucial thing is that you find something that gives you a sense of purpose.
Dealing with feelings of loneliness due to social isolation is a challenge many people are currently facing. Do your best to create new routines that give your life a sense of purpose, and stay in touch with your community throughout the lockdown. This will not only protect your mental health in the short term, but it will make it easier to readjust when restrictions lift too.