How should society deal with strange people
Tips for dealing with loneliness in the corona crisis
What is loneliness
People feel lonely when they want more or better social relationships than they currently have. There are big differences between people in how much contact they need with other people. For some it is enough if they talk to someone on the phone once a day, others actually always need their friends around them.
Loneliness should not be confused with being alone. We are alone when there are no other people around. That does not automatically mean that we then feel bad and feel lonely - on the contrary: Many people consciously take time for themselves in order to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and have a little peace. So being alone is an objective state. Loneliness, on the other hand, is a subjective condition. Loneliness feels painful and is often accompanied by sadness and a sense of loss of control.
What can I do about loneliness?
Maintain contact in other ways
We can keep in touch with other people in many different ways. The digital media offer many possibilities for this. Not only can we exchange text messages via messenger services such as WhatsApp or Skype, but we can also talk to each other via photos, voice messages and even video. But we shouldn't neglect the classic letter or the telephone either, especially among those around us who have no access to digital media. Consciously take the time to cultivate your contacts through these channels. And maybe this new situation is also a good opportunity to refresh a few neglected relationships and ask them how they deal with this situation.
Take care of your fellow human beings!
Perhaps you can cope with the spatial isolation quite well - but does that also apply to everyone else in your area? Now we need to pay special attention to those who are at greatest risk of isolation. Here are some things to do if you think someone around you is suffering from loneliness:
- Get in touch, by phone or digital media.
- Ask the person how they are. Many people don't like to admit that they feel lonely, but are very grateful when they realize they are allowed to talk about it.
- Self-disclosure can be a conversation opener: If this situation feels a little strange to you, speak openly about this feeling and ask if it might be the same with yours.
- Offer your support (e.g. regular conversations over the phone or Skype).
- If you notice that the person is very lonely or develops other psychological problems, refer professional help (see below).
Also note our general tips on dealing with domestic isolation and quarantine!
Our general tips on dealing with domestic isolation and quarantine can also protect against loneliness.
Ask for help!
If you are afraid of becoming lonely or already suffering from loneliness, do not hesitate to ask other people for help. For many people, loneliness is a taboo subject - we don't want to admit to others that we feel lonely. But loneliness is not something to be ashamed of, nor is it a sign of weakness. Therefore: Talk about your feelings with people you trust. Only when those around you know how you are can they be of good help.
If you have no one or are very lonely, you can also seek professional help. The next sections explain when and where you can get professional help.
When should I seek professional help?
Mental crises can affect anyone, regardless of their age, gender, education or income. An acute crisis involves the loss of inner balance, for example when you are confronted with situations or life circumstances that you are currently unable to cope with because your usual behavioral strategies are no longer effective. Sometimes it is difficult to perceive your feelings in such a crisis. Sometimes, however, feelings such as anger, hopelessness, sadness and even loneliness are particularly intense.
If you experience symptoms such as listlessness, hopelessness, loss of interest, depressed mood, panic, or decreased self-esteem and feel that you cannot cope with these symptoms on your own, it makes sense to seek professional help. This is especially true if, in a corresponding crisis situation, there is an acute danger to oneself or others (e.g. aggression directed against others or one's own thoughts that are tired of life). In such situations, please do not hesitate to call the medical on-call service (nationwide tel .: 116 117) or the ambulance service (nationwide tel .: 112). You will be helped immediately there!
Whom can I contact?
- General practitioners (for severe psychological problems)
- Medical (psychiatric) on-call service (nationwide tel .: 116 117)
Will the corona crisis lead to more loneliness?
The corona crisis demands of us that we are mainly at home and avoid direct contact with people outside our household. In this situation, many people want more contact and physical closeness. These momentary feelings can lead to chronic loneliness, especially if the contact barriers last for several weeks or months. We have to expect that this will particularly affect people who live alone, have had few social contacts before and do not have access to digital media through which they can maintain their contacts. These criteria apply particularly - but not only - to many older people who are particularly at risk. In the next section, you will find out how you can support someone who falls into this risk group.
But spatial distance must not be confused with emotional distance. Even if we are spatially separated from our loved ones, we can still establish and maintain emotional closeness. Many people now deliberately keep in touch with relatives, friends and neighbors, and in many places there are solidarity aid campaigns.
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