“April is the kindest month. April gets you out of your head and out working in the garden.”
If you are a senior who cannot possibly function for long on your own, tell someone, such as a trusted friend or family member. Call the local health centre and tell the nurse. Call the Village office. Help can be arranged for you. There are people who will meet your needs, such as get your prescriptions or mail, buy your groceries, walk your dog, or take out your garbage. Don’t hesitate to ask.
Whether you are quarantined due to suspected exposure, staying home because you are in a high-risk category, or at home to prevent the spread of infection, you may find yourself unprepared for the feelings of loneliness that will likely follow. While those with chronic illness may already be familiar with what it’s like to face long periods of time alone at home, most of us are used to getting out daily. Even those who are retired or don’t work usually make trips to run errands or visit friends.
To have all of that stop suddenly is jarring, to say the least. It’s important to take care of your mental health during times of reduced social interaction, so try to decrease your chances of developing anxiety or depression. Here are a few ideas on how to manage your feelings of loneliness during these times.
Keep to a regular schedule as much as possible. Try to make your days feel as “normal” as you can. Start each day with a plan of a few things that you will do. If you are a person who keeps a daily journal, continue to do so. Write how you are feeling, what you are doing, and what made you smile. It will help you feel like you are being proactive about the situation.
Stay informed. Keeping up-to-date on the latest advice and health information may give you an edge when it comes to protecting your mental health, and reduce the impact of loneliness. However, limit your media consumption. The news itself can contribute to your anxiety. Don’t sit in front of the TV watching news about coronavirus all day. Only check for updates on a timely basis.
Stay active. Don’t forget that your physical and mental health are delicately intertwined. Continue tai chi or yoga if that’s been your practice. Use a treadmill to get your daily walk.
Do something meaningful. You might find yourself not just bored, but feeling as if you are losing a sense of doing something important and meaningful each day. Even for just a short period of time, do something that will re-create that feeling that you are doing something important, like working on your family tree or trying to learn a new language or a new knitting stitch. You can also take part in online activities that can be done with others, like joining and participating in a Facebook group, signing up for online forums about your hobbies or interests, joining and playing multi-player games, or signing up for online sports games.
Find sources of comfort. These can help to improve your mental health. Give yourself a foot massage or use a foot spa. Take a long, hot bubble bath. Cook healthy comfort food. Have a cup of herbal tea which will help you relax. Light scented candles (lavender will relieve stress). Make sure you are getting plenty of rest.
Create something. Expressing yourself through creative means can be therapeutic, whether it’s painting, writing, or anything else. Try learning calligraphy or writing poetry, or art projects such as paint by numbers, origami, or jewellery making.
Plan for the future. This loneliness won’t last forever, and there will come a time when you’re back to your usual routines. Focus on the future and make plans for that. List all the things you want to do and all the places you want to travel to. Plan for the spring bulbs you would like to plant in the fall, and where in your garden you’ll put them. Plan a fun event for when you’re out of isolation, or goals for some area of your life.
Show compassion to others. If you are struggling with your own feelings, sometimes offering help to others who are feeling lonely can make you feel less lonely yourself. Make a phone call, or send a card or letter. Be supportive and offer words of encouragement. Your feelings will change from day to day, so find ways to accept them as they come and go. This helps to take away their power and ease your unhappiness.
A heartwarming story: Mary Burrage and Alice Crosson share the same birth date (March 27), but going out for dinner or having friends in for a birthday bash just wasn’t an option this year. Instead, thanks to a little creative thinking and plotting, Mary’s daughter-in-law Sandi Burrage came up with a plan to honour the birthday girls: a car parade, complete with signs, balloons, and honking horns. A long line of friends and acquaintances offered birthday wishes as they drove past their homes, much to the delight of all the neighbours. Well done, Sandi! That’s what I call a good celebration.
Happy Birthday to these ladies in April: Gloria Ferguson (March 17), Laura Turner (March 18), and Loretta Ferguson (March 20).
“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.”