A little Relief from Loneliness

Is 1 really the loneliest number? The Covid-19 global crisis combined with social distancing and the drastically different tone of the holidays this year, the amount of people feeling lonely is unfortunately destined to grow steadily.  Chin up though! We are collectively experiencing a lot of emotions at the moment, but together with the right knowledge and support we can–and will-get through this.

Physical, mental, and even financial health can all cause loneliness, no matter what your age is. Close friendships are crucial for our mental health, and the deterioration of these close relationships can result in us feeling lonesome.  It’s no wonder that loneliness has been labeled an “epidemic”.  A survey found that three times as many –3 times!- Americans do not consider themselves to have ANY close friends.

Three out of five Americans are lonely, even before the Coronavirus pandemic flipped our lives into a ‘new normal’ none of us ever thought would be a reality.  People feel that they are poorly understood, lacking true companionship and are part of less than satisfying workplace cultures.  Loneliness is on the same level of severity as smoking, obesity and physical inactivity and can likely lead to an early death.    

This is particularly alarming because although loneliness doesn’t cause an early natural death, it can potentially cause a self-imposed early death.  The pandemic is predicted to possibly cause 75,000 “deaths of despair”.  The holidays are quickly approaching us whether we are ready or not, and they are infamously a time when many feel the despair of not having a support network that makes them feel a sense of belonging.

Creative Coping Mechanisms for Loneliness:

1. Be socially active: Much like you make time to be physically active, make time to be social.  Good conversation paired with a socially distanced walk in the brisk autumn air or a zoom pub night with friends can positively affect your mood even with a computer screen or 2 feet separating you. 

2. Give a room a makeover: We are spending an unusually long time in our homes.  Get a change of scenery even when you are in the same scenery by creating a meditation or reading corner, supporting small businesses by getting new artwork from Etsy to hang, or just rearrange the furniture to give some fresh air to the room.

3. Experiment with being artsy: It’s commonly believed that to make art, you need to be talented.  Well, this is untrue! Art is a form of self expression through experimentation, and does not need to be “perfect” to be valid. A self-guided paint and sip class where watercolor paints are splashed on paper is endorphin inducing.

4. Shift from pain to imagination: A method of distracting your thoughts from physical or mental pain is to flex your creative proverbial guns and get imaginative through writing.  Song lyrics, poetry, short stories and even reflective  essays can all be a way of processing emotions.

5. Fix yourself a cup of soothing tea:  See below for the recipe and have fun customising it to your own liking!

DIY Stress Soothing Tea

Ingredients:

* 2 tsp dried holy basil

* 1 tsp dried lemon balm

*1 tsp dried chamomile

*½ tsp dried lavender

*½ tsp dried eleuthero root

Instructions:

1. Combine all ingredients in a mason jar or cup

2. Top with hot water

3. Place a plat or top onto mason jar and let infuse for 20 minutes*

4. Remove plate and filter tea through strainer or cheesecloth

5. Add honey or sweetener if you’d like

6. Inhale, exhale, sip and relax

References

Collins, S., 2020. The Loneliness Epidemic Has Very Real Consequences. [online] WebMD. Available at: <https://www.webmd.com/balance/features/loneliness-epidemic-consequences> [Accessed 1 November 2020].

Larkin, J., 2020. Combat Loneliness With Tea With Friends – The Larkin Tea Company. [online] The Larkin Tea Company. Available at: <https://larkintea.com/articles/combat-loneliness-with-tea-with-friends/> [Accessed 1 November 2020].

Lee, A., 2020. 8 Ways To Be Creative (Without Doing Art) – Let’s Explore. [online] Let’s Explore. Available at: <http://lets-explore.net/blog/2012/03/8-ways-to-be-creative-without-doing-art/> [Accessed 31 October 2020].

Lederle, D., 2020. Stress Relief Tea – The Healthy Maven. [online] The Healthy Maven. Available at: <https://www.thehealthymaven.com/diy-stress-relief-tea/> [Accessed 31 October 2020].

Renken, E., 2020. NPR Choice Page. [online] Npr.org. Available at: <https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/01/23/798676465/most-americans-are-lonely-and-our-workplace-culture-may-not-be-helping?t=1604251681620> [Accessed 1 November 2020].

Simon, M., 2020. 75,000 Americans At Risk Of Dying From Overdose Or Suicide Due To Coronavirus Despair, Group Warns. [online] CNN. Available at: <https://edition.cnn.com/2020/05/08/health/coronavirus-deaths-of-despair/index.html> [Accessed 31 October 2020].

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