There is strong evidence that loneliness and social disconnectedness has increased as a result of social distancing, causing a major effect on mental and physical health. While loneliness and social isolation are different from each other, both can exert a detrimental effect on your well-being and that of your loved ones.
Risks of Loneliness and Social Isolation
Although adults are at higher risk for loneliness and social isolation due to pandemic protocols, they also may be at risk if they:
- Live alone,
- Lack access to transportation,
- Struggle financially,
- Are in a caregiver role,
- Have psychological or cognitive challenges,
- Have limited social support,
- Live in a rural, unsafe, or secluded neighborhood,
- Struggle with language barriers,
- Experience age, racial, ethnic, sexual orientation, or gender identity discrimination.
Tips for Preventing Effects of Loneliness and Social Isolation
If you are concerned about loved ones in your life who may be at a higher risk for social isolation, you can help them maintain connectedness despite physical distancing. Encourage loved ones to consider the following tips:
- Schedule time each day to stay in touch with family, friends, and neighbors.
- Stay physically active with a socially distanced walking club or workout buddy.
- Find a virtual activity they enjoy.
- Consider adopting a pet, if they are able to care for them.
- Practice self-compassion and self-care by taking time for themselves.
- Talk to a doctor to assess risks for loneliness and social isolation.
- Connected to community resources for help, if needed.
For additional resources and information about loneliness, visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website.
Your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Can Help
If your own loneliness or concern for a loved one’s social isolation becomes overwhelming or feels unmanageable, your Component EAP can help connect you with professional help. Your EAP provides confidential, no-cost counseling and support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
For more information or for help in contacting your EAP, write to your DHS Work-Life specialists.