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Parenting can be an isolating experience, and dealing with loneliness caused by this isolation can leave parents feeling under-satisfied, hopeless, and even lead to depression. As a whole, the United States is the host of a fast-growing epidemic of loneliness and according to a recent study, “Loneliness and social isolation can be as damaging to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day”.
This study was published in 2019 on the eve of the global pandemic where social isolation and distancing rose to a necessary, yet all-time high. It has grown so much that the CDC has addressed ways to cope with this stress on their website, providing resources for mental health, stress management, and 24/7 hotlines for those who feel the strain is becoming unbearable.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, there are resources available that can help. For more information, visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for English, 1-888-628-9454 for Spanish.
From the outside looking in, parenting seems like it would be the least-lonely role in the world. Parents are constantly busy, always have company, and always have something to do. However, the role of “parent” often leaves little time for real adult connection because parenting is a full-time job. Spending the day with your child is not the same as experiencing a fulfilling adult relationship or encounter.
The every day struggles of frustrations experienced by parents have, like all things, become magnified in the wake of the pandemic, and the once-funny “Groundhog Day” expression of the day’s events has become all too real.
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The key to dealing with loneliness as a parent is accepting that things are different and that they are going to take some getting used to, but the benefits of caring for our mental health will trickle down into our parenting style and give our children the healthy parent of which they are so deserving.
Dealing With Loneliness: 4 Realistic Things you Can Do
- Admit that you’re lonely.
Loneliness can show itself in many different forms. Perhaps you’ve noticed that your patience is wearing thin, or that you are more emotional lately. Once you realize what has changed in your environment, you will be able to take the steps that are necessary for dealing with loneliness and nurture your mental and emotional well-being.
- Change your scenery
Sometimes, changing up your scenery can offer your mind and heart a jolt of energy. If you live in a neighborhood that’s safe for daily walks, insert a walk in your schedule. If you have children at home, bring them along! Getting out of your house with the same people you’re inside with all day can seem like more work than it is worth, but for a person with lighter skin, as little as 15 minutes spent in the sunshine will provide their recommended daily intake of Vitamin D and for a person of color, up to two hours will fill that need. Vitamin D is great for the body, but it is also a great way for your brain to get connected and grow!
- Join A Virtual Support Group. (Yes, they exist!)
There are good things that have come from social distancing and quarantining, and one of them is the creativity that people have employed in order to keep our day-to-day as “normal” as possible. While playdates and coffee chats with friends may have come to a screeching halt for the time being, many people have found a way to spend quality time with each other while maintaining safe social distance. Humans have a basic human need for human interaction, so when searching for ways for dealing with loneliness, you can include a parent’s group or support group online.
- Talk to someone at the same time every week. (Even if it’s a therapist)
It’s important to have something to look forward to each week. It pulls us out of our doldrums and can help us to re-focus our minds and sharpen our concentration. Creating Thursday night family dinners via video chats or even calling someone from your church for a quick conversation can stimulate your mind and heart. If you feel that a conversation with a loved one is not accessible to you at this time, then investing in a counselor or a therapist is a proper investment during these times. Your children deserve a healthy parent and as parents, we have to do whatever it takes to be our best selves for them. If the cost of a therapist is not something you can manage at this time, there are free or reduced-cost therapists available to help you.
We have all become so empathetic with our neighbors, friends, co-workers, and those in our family. Everyone is struggling in one way or another, and some more than others. However, we must not forget to look after ourselves and our own mental well-being. There are people depending on us, and we have to take dealing with loneliness as seriously for ourselves as we would if it were someone we love.
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