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Social Distancing and Mental Health

by Kendall VanBlarcom
A senior woman in wheelchair at home at Christmas time.

When you are feeling frustrated and are not sure where to turn, connect with a counselor to talk through your feelings. As difficult as it can be, some of the best practices include eating well, getting a proper night sleep, exercising, and talking about your concerns.

Consumed by Anxiety and Worry

There are times when outside information is helpful. But, if you are home alone a lot, remember that self-care is essential when it comes to social distancing and mental health. So, if you find yourself becoming anxious and upset about news on the television or posts on social media, a first step is to simply limit your intake of these information sources.

Both news channels and social media platforms are in the business of keeping people’s eyes on their products. Instead of taking in news all day, consider setting limits. For example, you could check your social media accounts for 15-30 minutes each morning and then go about your day. Or, if there is a news program you enjoy in the evening, wake up, participate in activities you enjoy, and only turn on the television for the 30-minute show in the late afternoon.

It can take a week or so to establish a new habit, but once you do you will likely find you are less anxious and stressed. Prioritize yourself and break up with the constant news cycle.

Connect with Those You Care About

For individuals who are prone to worrying, being home alone with your thoughts can lead to rumination and a spiral of negative thoughts. Many find it helpful to connect with others.

A few ways to stay connected when distancing:

  1. Have a virtual dinner with family members
  2. Join an online class or play virtual games
  3. Schedule regular phone calls with friends
  4. Responsibly meet, social distanced, with a friend
  5. Connect with an online counselor


Coping with isolation can be difficult. When you find yourself not taking care of yourself, such as not showering or participating in daily exercise, or drinking too much alcohol, it is time to reach out, connect with others, and develop healthy habits.

Social Distancing and Mental Health Impacts on Sleep Patterns

Fear and stress can result in agitation. When individuals are worrying about being in a state of danger, it is common they are unable to get a good night’s sleep. Of course, sleep is essential for your health. A counselor can share strategies for relaxation, including journaling through worries, keeping a consistent sleep schedule, and forgiving loved ones.

There are many resources on how to improve your life and get the proper sleep for your age, all while social distancing. There are ways to be happy during short periods of isolation, but it does take a shift in expectations and habits.

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