By Nikki Kontz, LMSW —
There’s a good chance this summer will look and feel completely different from any you’ve experienced before, and feelings of loneliness and isolation can still be very real even after stay-at-home guidelines have been relaxed.
The truth is, the world will probably look and feel different for a while. And even after things go back to “normal,” loneliness will be a feeling you’ll occasionally be faced with during your life.
So, how can you cope with feelings of loneliness and isolation now, and in the future?
- Reach out.Loneliness can be confusing and may cause you to want to isolate yourself from others even more. But what you typically need when you feel this way is interaction with other people. You may not be able to visit someone in person, but you can still text, talk on the phone and video chat with your favorite friends and family members. Platforms like Google Hangouts, Zoom and FaceTime allow you to see the people you’re talking to and hanging out with. Some apps, like House Party, even allow you to play basic party games like Pictionary.
- Focus on others. Shift your focus from feeling alone to how you can help others. This can range from small acts of kindness you can provide for neighbors and family friends, to finding an organization where you can volunteer. You can find volunteer opportunities through the Governor’s office, Hands On Greater Phoenix, and many other local organizations.
- Stay active. Your physical and mental health are intertwined. Taking care of your physical health by eating well and staying active will help you mentally cope with lonely feelings. Some ways to stay active during hot summer days include:
- getting up early to go for a hike (you can always go back to bed when you get home)
- practicing yoga or working out by following YouTube videos
- going for a walk, bike ride, or run in the evenings when it’s a bit cooler
- Do something meaningful. Whether it’s taking an online class to learn a new skill, working toward a goal or creating something new, find something that is meaningful to you to occupy your time. Some ideas could include:
- Write a short story or practice writing in your journal every day
- Reorganize or redecorate your room or another space in your home
- Learn how to cook or bake a specific dish
- Set and work toward a health goal
- Paint, knit, craft something or compile a photo album
- Learn to play an instrument – or practice playing a difficult song you’ve wanted to learn
- Start a new hobby, like photography, graphic design, or jewelry making
- Practice makeup and hair tutorials or learn other life skills from YouTube
- Distract yourself. When nothing else seems to be working, find healthy ways to distract yourself. Get lost in a favorite movie, new TV series, video games, a good book or other activity that you enjoy.
There is Hope
Let’s talk about what’s bothering you.
If you’re struggling with overwhelming feelings of loneliness or isolation, please call Teen Lifeline 24/7/365 at (602) 248-TEEN (8336) or (800) 248-TEEN.
You can also text the hotline at (602) 248-8336 between the hours of noon and 9 p.m. on weekdays and 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. on weekends.
The hotline is staffed by teen peer counselors from 3 p.m. until 9 p.m. daily. Trained counselors are available at all other times.
For more information about Teen Lifeline, visit TeenLifeline.org.