Many people actually suffer from being locked in at home day and night with their loved ones. What for someone is too much, for another person is too less: Especially older persons withdraw from social life, because they are afraid, or they have reasonable caution, so they feel deep loneliness and feel abandoned. We are confronted with a lot of different emotions in our psychological online counselling at Instahelp, related to the corona crisis. In this context, we have a collection of frequently asked questions for you:
People without partner or kids spend a lot of time alone now. What opinion has a psychologist about this situation, or how long someone can handle it well?
How long someone could handle such a situation well, depends on two factors: On the one hand, a basic psychological stability and the initial situation, the person is in, plays a big role. And on the other hand, it is about, how someone could and would spend the time. A person, which has a fulfilled life now, few financial worries, and no mental problems, could very likely handle the situation well. Someone, who is in a depressive phase now and then gets isolated over weeks, could feel very limited by the other-directed action, what on the other hand could develop into an increase of the symptoms, or cause a traumatic stress reaction (sleeping disorders, lack of concentration, despair).
Are there types, which tolerate it more and others, which tolerate it less?
Besides the individual life situation and the mental health state, also the basic character and the life experiences until now, play a big role. While some people enjoy it to spend a few days in a row on the couch, for others this form of deprivation of liberty is nothing, but torture. Also, the internal attitude, how you accept the curfews and advice, has an important impact on how well you could deal with the circumstances. It is known, that intrinsic motivation (if I want something out of myself and if I do understand the sense behind a measure) leads to much higher willingness to compromise and frustration tolerance, than regulations, which aren’t comprehensible and seen as “senseless” by individuals. This is not the only reason, why comprising information and enlightenment is good and important.
Does being alone also have advantages from a psychological perspective?
Yes, to a certain extend “being alone” could in fact have big advantages – especially in such a fast-moving time. You get forced to face your individual problems and topics and you must learn, to also cope with yourself. Many people are on a permanent escape from themselves in daily life – those are the ones, who on the one hand feel a big challenge now, but on the other also a chance. One could even go so far to say that the “forced isolation” could be a benefit for all of us because we learn again, to step back, to slow down life and to focus on the few important things. This is an opportunity to realize what you need in life and what you do not.
What can you do, to not feel too lonely?
The present time, fortunately, offers a lot of options for it. Nevertheless, we would not recommend you primarily, to distract yourself with social contacts all the time, but also to enjoy your “me-time” consciously, which mostly is too short in daily life. For example, you could make a “self-care list”, where you note everything, that is good for you – gymnastics, yoga, muscle relaxation, relaxation, meditation, a hot bath, reading, watching TV… Often, it takes some time to find answers to the questions, like “What actual are my interests? What do I need to be happy? What is good for me?“
And as an offset to it social media offers a lot of options to stay in touch with friends and to exchange and to encourage each other.
What could you do if you are in a mental low point?
Of course, it also could happen, that you get overwhelmed by negative emotions and that you cannot stop overthinking – nevertheless, you are not alone, even with this situation, because on the internet you could find a lot of helping options. Meanwhile, we know that psychological online counselling does have significant effects on relevant symptoms and that it could help to learn, how to deal with negative emotions. Do not be afraid to get yourself professional help – this could help you to overcome the crisis even stronger.
On the other hand, too much closeness could also be a problem: Why could being in home office with kids and partners lead to conflicts and how you could avoid this?
This is a situation, where probably not many of us had been into ever before. Until now, we had stable and well proven everyday rituals and everyone in the family had his individual tasks, but also moments of leisure time. Different than on vacation, it is not possible to take each day as it comes and to go and visit friends, if you have cabin fever – you must keep on “functioning”, to coordinate with each other and create new rituals. This is the exact point, which leads to disagreement and annoyance – especially, because a feeling of insecurity and fear is constantly with us and is in the way of a productive willingness to compromise.
You could counteract this, by developing for example daily plans and by structuring the day for all persons involved. Furthermore, it is helpful and useful, if everyone has enough time and space for withdrawing, besides working time. Over a cosy conversation, or a “family meeting” you could create rules together for this time – it is important here, that everyone can tell his opinion and can be part of creating the day.
Another important point is communication on regular basis How are you today? What every one of us could do to make the situation liveable for every one of us? ) and the exchange about fears and worries.
This is not the time to force educational measures – now it is about sticking together and having a good time together so that we go out of this even stronger.
Photo credits: unsplash.com/@thmsvrbrggn