Practicing Social Distancing Without Feeling Isolated (infographic)

During this current global crisis, Social distancing has been instituted to prevent the spread of COVID-19. More Americans are reporting feeling isolated, however, before the pandemic 52% of adults said they felt alone, at least some of the time. Could we be facing unprecedented levels of loneliness?

You may not know that there was already an epidemic of loneliness in the U.S. before the increased cases of Coronavirus. About half of Americans feel lonely some or all of the time.
  • 61% say those around them don’t share their interests and ideas
  • 58% think no one knows them
  • 52% feel left out
  • 49% say they don’t have friends
And loneliness is increasing, UCLA developed a “Loneliness Scale” with a score of 43 indicating loneliness, measured different generations in 2019.
  • Baby Boomers — 43.2
  • Gen X — 47
  • Millennials — 47.7
  • Gen Z — 49.9
Remote work might be the reason for the almost 7 point increase in loneliness over 3 generations. In 2019, 10% of Americans worked remotely, and remote workers are more likely to report feeling lonely.

Those working from home felt isolated and lacked friendships 6% and 17% more, respectively than those working in-person. Educators teaching K-12 historically were the least likely to experience loneliness, however, with country-wide school closures forcing the use of virtual classrooms, they may be more at risk.

While social distancing has become necessary for public health, a consequence could be, while infinitely less life-threatening still harmful, social isolation. Social distancing has proven effective in slowing the spread of disease. And so too social isolation has been proven to lead to increased risk for:
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Obesity
  • Depression
  • Cognitive decline
  • Alzheimer’s
There’s no question that we’re choosing the lesser of two evils, but let’s not overlook the challenge we now face. Further, social distance doesn’t even have to bring social isolation.

Americans reported less loneliness when they found a good balance of physical activity, sleep, and social interaction. So, get outdoors, social distancing doesn’t mean you have to stay inside, just don’t forget to stay 6 feet away from others, which isn’t as hard as it sounds. Go for a hike, do some yard work, or walk the dog.

Setting a routine can combat that sinking feeling of isolation. It’s easiest to start at the beginning or end of your day to edit your schedule and cement good behaviors. Make time for a quick tidying, set exercise, or fresh air break, which can reduce mental fatigue and you feel happier and healthier.

Set a time for social interactions via virtual hangouts with family and friends. If you’re still adjusting to the digital world, here are some options. Believe it or not, if you and your friends have a subscription to Netflix you could watch something together. It syncs streaming so you can watch with others, adding a sidebar for integrated group chats, and works in the Chrome Browser on any device.

Call or chat with Messenger Kids, which lets children video chat and message with friends and family. Parents can control contacts and access messages, and chat through their Facebook account. Not all forms of communication are equal, according to Dr. Kanter, Director of the Center For Science Of Social Connection at the University of Washington. “A phone call with a voice is better than text, and a video chat is better than a telephone call.”

Plan a game night, many games are multiplayer capable over the internet:
  • Video games--Fortnite, Minecraft, Mario Kart Tour, etc.
  • Board games--Yahtzee, Monopoly, Chess, etc.
  • Card games--Poker, Cards Against Humanity, etc.
The bottom line is don’t expect perfection, everyone is making adjustments. No one should have to apologize for kids, pets, or internet speed. We’re all in this together, even if we’re at least 6 feet apart.

Learn more about Social Distancing Without Feeling Isolated here!

Social Distancing Doesn't Mean Social Isolation - Infographic

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