Loneliness in the time of Covid
The Covid 19 pandemic forced much of the world to lock down and maintain strict social distancing measures. For many, social distancing resulted in social isolation, which brought about its own set of mental and emotional challenges.
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In the UK alone, the Office for National Statistics reported that during the lockdown, 30.9% of 7.4 million adults interviewed said their well-being had been affected by loneliness in the past week. In October 2020, USA Today cited an analysis of federal data that stated there had been "13,200 excess dementia deaths since the pandemic's start."
Statistics and research aside, most people don't need to be informed that loneliness and isolation have a negative effect on one's mental health. What people want to know is what they can do about it. Read our suggested holistic health practices you can incorporate to combat loneliness:
For centuries, meditation has been recognized as an effective tool for managing stress, anxiety, and depression. In 2012, researchers at the University of California reported that they saw improvements in study participants' feelings of well-being after just eight weeks of meditation. Steve Cole, a UCLA professor of medicine and psychiatry and leader of the study, said that not only was well-being improved, but the practice of mindfulness also had an effect on the immune system and inflammation in the body.
You don't have to be a Buddhist monk to be able to meditate. There is a multitude of free apps available to help you get started. All that meditation requires is sitting upright, closing your eyes, and focusing on your breathing. You can also focus on a pressure point, such as your foot touching the floor. If you get distracted, no problem, just take a deep breath and start again. Need an extra push? Visit Sofia Health online and find a virtual meditation coach.
Breathwork can also be an effective tool in relieving anxiety, stress, and depression. There are several different breathing techniques you can try. Let's start with box breathing: Inhale to the count of 4, hold your breath at the top to the count of 4, exhale to the count of 4, and hold your breath at the bottom to the count of 4. Other breathwork techniques include Falling Out breath and Empty breathing. Use these as a tool whenever you're feeling stressed or overwhelmed- simply set a timer for one minute and focus on your breathing. You'll be surprised just how much this can help improve your mindset.
The US National Institutes of Health cites numerous studies that explain how and why yoga can decrease feelings of negativity and increase feelings of well-being. Contrary to what some people think, you don't have to be overly flexible or fit to start yoga. Simply start where you are and move at your own pace. Sofia Health has certified yoga instructors who can help you start and stay consistent with your practice.