Loneliness & Social Connection

It’s important for our mental health to maintain our social connections… even from a distance.

May 4 to 10, 2020 is the Canadian Mental Health Association’s (CMHA) Mental Health Week. Taking care of your mental health is important every day of the year, but in trying times like these, it’s especially important to #GetReal with how you’re feeling. The CMHA reminds us that some of the major mental impacts of COVID-19 are not just the anxiety, stress, and fear we’ve been feeling, but also loneliness as we grapple with spending less time interacting with others.

CMHA defines loneliness a subjective human experience of not having sufficient social connections. Essentially, if you feel lonely, you are lonely. One of the main causes of loneliness is a lack of social connections that fulfill us. Loneliness is a feeling that impacts most of us from time to time, and dealing with these feelings can be especially hard when we already have so much on our minds.

It’s important to recognize that as our lives have significantly changed in the past few months, our mental health could have shifted as well. We are not seeing our families, friends, or co-workers in the same ways we were before, and this change can result in greater feelings of loneliness.

Although we’re not physically seeing the people in our lives on a daily basis, we can still have meaningful social connections to combat feeling lonely. Over the past couple months you’ve probably heard ‘stay connected’ at least once every few days. But have you stopped and thought about the importance of this and how it has impacted you? We want to remind you the importance of staying in contact with those people that make you feel fulfilled to maintain your social relationships, even from a distance.

To maintain your social connections, use the available technologies. There are tons of different options to keeping your typical video chats fun.

  • Watch Netflix together using Netflix Party or share your screen using Zoom to watch a movie together.
  • Play an online game. Try using the app House Party.
  • Host a book club (or movie club if reading isn’t your thing).
  • Complete a workout together.
  • Have a virtual coffee date.

If you don’t feel like having a video chat, consider a good old fashioned phone call, or a even text conversation. It’s still going to help you feel connected with your loved ones to have a conversation with them, even if it is short.

Remember to also check in on your loved ones if you feel like they could use someone to talk to. Many of us are in similar situations right now and taking the time to have a social connection will most likely benefit them just as much as you.

It’s key to recognize when you are feeling lonely and lean on your loved ones when you need to. Just as you want to care for others, let others care for you when you are feeling like you could use the support. Keep your social connections strong even when you don’t feel like putting in the effort, sometimes that is when we need it most. Remember this may be a new normal, but it is temporary.

If you want to read more about important mental health topics from the CMHA, click here. Also check out their 2020 Toolkit here for more resources on dealing with mental health.

To support mental well-being through the COVID-19 crisis, Blue Cross has joined as a sponsor of Stronger Minds by BEACON – a free digital program available for all Canadians. Stronger Minds offers day-to-day guidance from BEACON’s team of clinical psychologists and access to videos, quick read and resilience-building activities.