How to Cope With Social Isolation

Social isolation can be difficult to deal with, no matter your age or circumstances. It can be especially challenging, though, for elderly people who live alone or who depend on routines outside of the home for stability and companionship. 

If you or a loved one is struggling with social isolation, here are four tips to help you stay positive and healthy.

Get Moving

Exercise might help you work off the extra calories from the comfort food you’ve eaten during isolation, but it will do much more than keep your waistline trim. In fact, according to The Association of Medicine and Psychiatry, just thirty minutes of moderate exercise each week can improve your sleep, mood, energy, and alertness. Exercise is also a great way to reduce the stress and anxiety that often come with prolonged periods of social isolation.

If you’re hesitant to start a personal exercise program, remember: moderate exercise doesn’t have to be backbreaking. A brisk walk, if possible, or a low-impact workout can give you all the same physical and mental health benefits as a visit to the gym.

To start, check out these 5 YouTube Fitness Channels for Seniors. These channels offer free, low-impact workouts that you can do in your own space whenever you choose. Remember that you should always check with your doctor before beginning a new workout routine.

Stick to a Schedule

Keeping a regular schedule can make your days of social isolation pass more quickly while giving you a sense of productivity and fulfillment. Waking up and going to bed at the same time each day and night will not only improve the quality of your sleep but help you maintain order in your life.

Passing the time between waking up and going to sleep, however, can be more challenging. Many people have found that a daily journal or to-do list can stop the days of isolation from blurring together. Some schedule certain activities during certain hours of the day; others simply write down which tasks they’d like to accomplish, and how long they’d like to spend on each. 

No matter which scheduling strategy you pick, make sure to schedule some free time for relaxation and fun. On the other hand, if you’re having a hard time coming up with activities to do during the day, keep reading for some inspiring ideas!

Practice Self-Care

Self-care comes in many forms. Exercise, sleep, and proper meals are three great ways to care for yourself physically. However, in times of stress, it can be easy to overlook other solutions, like emotional, mental, and spiritual self-care. 

Self-care doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are some suggestions for simple self-care strategies to schedule during your day:

Physical self-care will help your body run at its very best. Your physical well-being also has a big impact on the way you think and feel, so physical self-care is really just another part of taking care of yourself emotionally and mentally.

  • Take a warm bath or shower
  • Cook and eat a healthy meal
  • Exercise regularly 
  • Get enough sleep

Mental self-care keeps your mind sharp and helps you fill your mind with uplifting and healthy thoughts. This kind of self-care can have a huge effect on your self-esteem, promote self-improvement, and even encourage stronger relationships with others, all of which contribute to your overall sense of wellness.

  • Do a puzzle
  • Read a captivating book
  • Watch an interesting movie
  • Start a journal
  • Take up a new hobby

Spiritual self-care is a proven way to improve mental and physical health. You do not have to be a religious person to practice spiritual self-care. Regardless of your personal views, the practice of spiritual activities can reduce stress, fear, and depression while promoting greater feelings of well-being.

  • Learn or practice meditation
  • Spend time in nature
  • Look for ways to show compassion to others
  • Read an uplifting book
  • Say a prayer

Emotional self-care will help you to deal effectively with uncomfortable emotions like anger, anxiety, and sadness, which may be more likely to arise when you’re experiencing social isolation. Since the mind and body are so closely linked, practicing emotional self-care also promotes better physical health.

  • Forgive yourself for past mistakes 
  • Give yourself a compliment 
  • Listen to a song you love 
  • Ask a friend for help

Stay Connected

One surefire cure for loneliness is reaching out to your loved ones. Even if they can no longer see you in person, know that they love you, and want to hear from you. Why not reach out to them with a phone call, a video chat, or a handwritten letter? You might even consider scheduling a daily or weekly call with your closest friend or relative. Taking the initiative to contact your loved ones will not only help you cope with social isolation, but it may well lift their spirits, too.

Social isolation is a unique and difficult challenge. While we know social isolation won’t last forever, we hope that these simple strategies for coping will keep you happy and healthy.

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