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Loneliness and Social Distancing with Jonathan and Drew

June 5, 2020


We all desire and need connection. During our life, the connections we have within ourselves and others may be a source of profound joy and suffering. The loss of connection may also contribute toward feelings of grief and loneliness. Such may be the case as we are instructed to distance ourselves from others during a pandemic. Social distancing is meant to be an approach to limit the spread of COVID-19, but it may come with the cost of feeling more alone if we are unable to be connected with others. It is important as we attend to our physical health that we are also mindful of our mental and emotional health. Just as fear may alert us to danger, loneliness alerts us to the need to connect. Sharing our feelings, painful or pleasant, with someone we trust and who cares for us can be one way we can cultivate quality connections with others. Finding and sustaining healthy connections during a pandemic may be more challenging but is important as we maintain physical and mental health. Coming up with new creative ways to maintain connections can be vital in caring for our need to socialize. In addition to connecting with others, we also may feel the need to connect with ourselves. Being alone is different than feeling lonely. Like Jonathan Livingston Seagull or Henry David Thoreau being alone can afford us the opportunity to learn, reflect on personal values, progress, and connect more with ourselves and/or nature. During this time of social distancing, as we look out across the “unbridgeable gulf between oneself and any other being” (Yalom, 1980 p.355) and experience feelings of loneliness, I hope that we are reminded by feeling alone the need to continue developing and maintaining healthy connections with ourselves and others.

Jonathan Ishoy and Drew Zaitsoff, Purdue CAPS Staff Therapists

References

Bach, R. (1970). Jonathan Livingston Seagull. New York: The Macmillan Company

Thoreau, H.D. (1854/2003). Walden and Civil Disobedience. New York: Barnes and Noble Classics.

Yalom, I. (1980). Existential Psychotherapy. U.S.A.: Basic Books

 

Resources for Addressing Loneliness

Loneliness Help and Support courtesy of EduMed.Org