Well, we made it to 2021. I’m sure for a while there, you may have been wondering if we really would! 2020 saw things that we never dreamed we would see, in the form of Covid-19. This plague has affected those with an autoimmune disease, some more than “normal” folks, and some less than they. Let me explain.
People who do not have a chronic illness may have been extremely jarred by the “stay-at-home” orders and complete change from “normalcy”. You might say they had farther to fall. For those living with an autoimmune disease, many are already home bound on most days. Their “normalcy” is to pass on most social engagements. They’ve already figured out how to order their groceries to be delivered. They live their life at some level of “isolation”.
This may have made some patients appear to be more resilient. Resiliency is a key faction in happiness, a good quality to have!
However, there is a correlation between isolation and/or loneliness and poor health outcomes. Recent studies show that these social conditions can be as detrimental to our health as smoking and obesity, robbing precious years from length of life.
So, what can we do to combat isolation and loneliness in this time of COVID-19? First, make the most of the relationships you already have. Give it some thought and decide who among them is “good” for you. You know, the ones who you come away from feeling happier, lighter, understood. You might lose track of time when you are together. A four-hour visit might go by in a blink. Reach out by any means necessary to bridge the divide. Text them when you are thinking about them. Write an e-mail to them when you are awake at an ungodly hour. Set up weekly “phone-chat dates” and KEEP the date. Make that relationship a priority. When you value something, little can keep you from it.
There are so many video options to use these days, Facetime, Zoom, Skype, among many others. Agree that hair and makeup are optional. You will gravitate to the people who don’t expect those things from you (and you won’t feel like you “need” to do that)! Just “come as you are”. The real, true, you!
Allow yourselves to dream about the lunch you will have when this is over, where will you go? What restaurant do you miss? What meal makes you salivate just thinking about it? Keep the dream alive!
And take a moment to consider that many of us are used to being “alone” by that does not require us to feel “lonely”. There is a difference.
Also take a moment to remember that everyone else, chronically ill, or not, may be really struggling with how long this has gone on. Our normally healthy friends and family may be dealing with a low-grade depression (perhaps not so low-grade). If someone is not reaching out as they normally would, take the first step yourself. They may need YOU!!!