Loneliness - The Deadly COVID Side Effect
COVID is a pain in the butt. I wish it wasn't a thing, but here it is anyway. Of all the negative things that COVID brings, outside of severe illness or death, the largest and most alarming side effect is loneliness.
We are on month 9 of lockdowns in some form or fashion, with no end in sight. We've stayed home, worn the masks, and sanitized every surface of our homes. Yet, we are still here. This isn't meant to be controversial. COVID is what it is. And, regardless of your stance on masks, staying at home, etc., one big fact remains: America is lonelier than ever.
Our elderly parents and grandparents are without the one thing that would light them up: quality time with their families.
Our kids are missing play/social time with friends during crucial development years as they homeschool. Sports are canceled or limited, at best. Milestone events like high school prom and graduation are set to the side.
Many people that struggle with addiction thrive with in-person 12-step meetings such as AA. They are now sitting in front of computers on Zoom calls or worse yet, a phone call without video. And, the holidays, a stressful time for all, brings a new level of sobriety testing to each and everyone.
Let's not forget the parents. Now struggling to try to work, if they are so lucky to still have gainful employment, they are make-shift teachers in between their own Zoom calls.
And, what about those that are living with someone in addiction? How do they find support if their loved one is struggling, especially heading into the holidays?
I think the only household member that must be pretty excited about all this time at home is our furry friends. How exciting it must be to have us at home, all day, everyday!
Unless you're a pretty serious introvert, it's likely you've felt some variety of loneliness throughout these months. Loneliness is such a big deal in the world of addiction that I called it out in my book, Warriors in Recovery, as a commonality and cause of addiction.
Each and every one of us thrives off connection, the opposite of loneliness.
It is definitely harder to find connection these days, and it might require some brainstorming on your part. Today, I'm going to focus on how to connect with your spouse/partner in your house. I know you're sick of them, but I promise they need you just as much as you need them.
Here is a fun list of ideas to try and if you have one that I haven't listed, please comment below so others can benefit:
Find out his/her love language if you don't know it. Then, commit to showing your loved one how much you love them using their language for a set number of days.
Discover a new outdoor activity (fresh air is AMAZING! for our mental health). Try hiking, walking, skiing, rollerblading, biking, gardening or set out on a State or National Parks tour.
Try a new game. Like cards? Try a new game you haven't played together. Board games? Puzzles? Get one and play together. You can include the WHOLE family in on this one if you are so brave;-) There are even some fun couples games - some of which you'll want to do without the kiddos!
Try a subscription box. There are a ton of new "Date in a Box" type things all over the Internet. Seriously, Google it. Try one out!
Make an AMAZING dinner with all the fine china. Why not?!
Create a couple's goal list. Brainstorm together a list of where you want to be in one year or five years and how each of you can help get there. It might be physical things - such as a new home, financial - let's talk $$, or emotional - I want to feel xyz with you. This is an amazing way to connect!
Tell him/her how you feel. Be honest, be vulnerable, and kind. Watch your tone and of course, do it at the right time. If you want help with communicating your feelings, reach out.
Read a book together. If reading isn't your thing - find a show you both like. Set aside time to read/watch together.
And, if you didn't see this one before: Know your partner's love language and commit to showing your partner love every day, in the way that matters most to them.
We can't control other people. You know that. So, if your partner seems a little annoyed about trying something new, find something he wants to do and see if he'll have you along. Use that one imperfect step to take the next. Build that connection as much as you can and see where it leads.
We all need connection outside of our partner/spouse, so be sure to continue this brainstorming with the other relationships in your life. We don't need much, but we do need each other. More now, than ever before.