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Navigating Social Isolation

The COVID-19 pandemic has effected not only an individual’s respiratory health but countless others who are suffering from loneliness due to isolation. Social distancing, forced quarantines, travel restrictions, and business closures to increase experiences of anxiety, worry, or fear. Loneliness and isolation create risks for other health concerns not associated with the coronavirus symptoms. These include depression, poor sleep quality, impaired cognitive and other brain functions, with possible cardiovascular and impaired immune function. What can we do to better prepare ourselves to manage these feelings without escalation into these health problems? Every individual will address these feelings in their way. Some will respond with an uptick of “face timing” or other similar video platforms. Others may keep busy at home by finding a consistent routine, with house chores, working from home, spring cleaning, or other home projects. At my house, for example, we are jackhammering apart our old front stoop to put in a front patio area with pavers instead. There is no time like the present; I will let you know how far we get!

Social isolation management has long been incorporated as part of NASA training for astronauts.  As Boilermakers with our strong history with NASA astronauts, we should be primed for such training.  Purdue professor Marshal Porterfeild, was interviewed recently discussing the similarities between concepts of this training and the social isolation people are managing now during this pandemic.  He reminds us to “focus on the mission” when managing feelings of isolation during this time. Check out the full details.

Substance abuse and mental health services administration (SAMHSA) also has a great pdf “Taking Care of Your Behavioral Health” with advice for managing social isolation under quarantine.

  1. Do your research to decrease feelings of fear. Understand your risks.  
  2. What is your mission right now? Advocate for yourself, and look at your goals. 
  3. Evaluate parameters for these goals, such as finances or responsibilities .
  4. Take action by connecting with others, or talk to your doctor. Use helpful strategies to cope and relax.

Erin Perry, RN, Purdue CAPS Psychiatric Nurse


Recommendations and resources for  Social Isolation

Recommendations and resources for Loneliness