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5 Ways of Coping with Isolation

by Thaddeus Camlin, Psy.D.

Below are five ways to cope with isolation that do not involve more screens.As the late, great Jim Morrison crooned, strange days have found us.  As millions adjust to social life filtered almost exclusively through the cold, unforgiving pixilation of digital screens, the need for genuine connection is more intense than ever.  Below are five ways of coping with isolation that do not involve more screens and may be helpful amidst these strange days that have tracked us down.

1. Phone Calls

Phone calls rather than facetime, skype, zoom, whatever, eliminate the visual element.  There’s nothing like real-time visual feedback of ourselves to distract us and heighten our insecurities.  Pacing around a living room while talking on the phone can help free the mind.  Feeling more unencumbered when talking with a friend or loved one might actually make the conversation more natural and genuine, thus increasing the sense of closeness and connection.

2. Write Letters

Writing a letter to a friend or a loved one forces us to think about the relationship in a different way.  Also, writing a letter to a friend or loved one means we are guaranteed to be able to ‘say our piece’ without interruption, and in some relationships that might be a highly welcomed change!

3. Be Creative  

It’s not if you’re creative, it’s how you’re creative.  Isolation presents us with the opportunity to improve our relationship with our self.  We are all creative. Reconnect with or spend more time on the projects and outlets that often take a back-seat to the drudgery of day-to-day life.  Pick up the old guitar, change the strings, and tune it up. Pull out the old paints and get lost in a colourful abstraction. Dance, cook, write, draw, build, and sing our way to a better understanding of ourselves.

4. Journal

Journal dreams, journal thoughts, journal anything and everything that comes to mind through trying times.  Writing helps us process in a different way and helps us connect with deeper parts of ourselves.  Plus, the page never judges!  Documenting our experience of resilience can serve as a powerful reminder in the future of our own capacity to adapt and adjust as needed when life throws us curveballs.

5. Be Physically Active

One way or another, getting our heart rate up and keeping it up helps us maintain our sanity.  Sleep disturbances during times of high stress are almost a given. Physical exhaustion can beat out a racing mind at night and allow for much needed rest.  While physical activity may not directly help with connection to others, it does help us maintain our sanity so that we can effectively connect with others when we have the opportunity.

Final Thoughts

Along with the tips above focusing on connecting sans screens, there are a number of ways of coping with isolation that involve screens and utilizing our devices can be hugely helpful in our efforts to stay connected amidst isolation.  For example, SMART Recovery and 12-Step groups are offering zoom meetings.  As most providers are doing, we at Practical Recovery continue to offer psychotherapy via video conferencing and telephone sessions, as well as a weekly free group Wednesdays at 9am for all current and past clients.  Now, given the online format, people outside of San Diego can join the free Wednesday morning group. 

Connection is vitally important for humans, and is especially relevant in the world of addictive problems – let us recall the widespread quote from Johann Hari that “the opposite of addiction is not sobriety, the opposite of addiction is connection.”  Finding ways to maintain a sense of connection is vital to human health and wellbeing.