I’ve talked with several people about loneliness during this time of isolation. Mental health clinics are seeing a rise in patients across the globe as we continue to isolate and the side effects of touch deprivation are surfacing. Things are changing for us huggers and it’s time to talk about simple ways we can stay and feel connected.
Understandably, the following tips don't replace the connection felt from a hug, but this time calls for out-of-the-box alternatives. Here are some of the things my fellow huggers and I are doing that have helped combat loneliness. I will add to this or start another post as more suggestions come through, so check back from time to time.
Write a Letter
Yup, get out that pen and paper and look for those stamps in the deep recesses of your junk drawer! This is one of my favorite things to do, and who doesn’t love to receive personal mail? I have written everything from a “spot check” to “what I appreciate about you” letter. Just imagine how a friend or a loved one would feel opening their mailbox! Letter writing makes you feel connected to that person even if you aren’t able to see them. Bonus points, I find myself getting out of my head and into my heart as I write these letters.
Schedule a Coffee Chat
I love going to a coffee shop, hanging out, and having wonderful conversations with my friends. Since in-person coffee dates aren’t the safest at this time, I find myself reaching out to different people several mornings a week to have a virtual coffee chat. I prefer to video chat because it makes me feel more connected as if we’re sitting across from each other. I use this time to check-in, discuss how we can be of service to each other, and talk about ways to help the world heal. This is a creative discussion focusing on growth and helps us connect to the bigger picture. Venting is also allowed, with resolution as the goal.
I have talked to several people who’ve remarked that they're afraid to reach out because they don’t want to burden people. Most of them thought they were the only ones experiencing these feelings of sadness and loneliness. The mere fact that we’re not alone in these feelings is enough to shift our emotions. I’ve had numerous conversations about this and by the end, we’ve felt better in knowing we’re not alone in what we’re feeling. So, reach out and let someone know how you’re feeling and that you just need to connect. In the process of helping yourself, you could also be helping the other person.
Find a way. There are still several safe options to experience the connection of a hug. You could hug yourself. You could give your children more hugs--they really need them right now. Hug your pets--they are always up for a good hug! For you nature lovers, get outside and hug a tree--a therapeutic and fun option.
While this may seem like a light-hearted message, this is a real struggle for a lot of people. Take time for self-care and be gentle with yourself and others during this time. Kindness doesn’t cost a thing and goes a long way. If you or someone you know is struggling, reach out for help. I welcome any additional thoughts or suggestions in the comment section below.