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The loneliness epidemic and potential cures

Dec 2, 2020 1:46 PM

Photo Essays

Our world has been palpitating with panic over the COVID-19 crisis that’s been making headlines seemingly everywhere. That said, it’s moments like these, nearly a whole year deep into quarantine, that we realize a killer virus is actually only the tip of the iceberg of our problems. What is the rest of the iceberg, you might wonder? The loneliness epidemic.

Has your screen time escalated over the past few weeks? Have you noticed your eyes straining by the end of the day, or your vision declining at a rapid rate? Without even considering Zoom usage or social media scrolling, UNICEF reports that online game distributors like Steam have noticed an increase from 19 million daily users in early March to a “record high” of 23.5 million in the beginning of April.

If you’re someone who enjoys retail therapy or even just window shopping with friends, quarantine has almost certainly changed that experience for you. From online markets skyrocketing to malls closing down due to slow business, Blake Morgan from “Forbes” claims that the shopping will change forever in light of the pandemic.

If you’ve seen infographics about how the entire year of 2020 has felt like March repeated six different times, followed by a rapid-fire summer and an even faster fall, you’re not the only one. The monotony of each day, followed by a lack of routine, is what causes us to lose our usual perception of time.

How do we break out of this endless cycle of monotony and loneliness? First, learning to find company within ourselves is important. Take a few moments every day to reflect. What are you proud of accomplishing today? What do you still need to finish? What are you looking forward to tomorrow? A great time to do this is when you need to rest your eyes between classes. Don’t stay glued to your screen. Stand up, stretch, and stare out the window a little!

In the same line as reflecting, it is scientifically proven that journaling can help you cope with loneliness. I’ve taken to writing nearly every day in my journal on the exciting events that have happened. The motion of writing things down — turning to a new spread, watching as ink spills across ivory pages — is very soothing. It also helps you keep track of your life and to see that you are accomplishing so much, even if this weird timeline is making you feel the opposite.

Sometimes decorating your space with things that make you happy can be really inspiring. As a writer, I like having my favorite characters from books and TV shows hanging on my window, my favorite athletes skating on my shelf as Funko Pops and even my favorite story structure chart taped next to my desk so I’ll never forget how much I despise plotting! Jokes aside, redecorating your space — even if it’s just rearranging your bed or cleaning your desk — can truly liven up the space and motivate you as a result. I’ve done some remodeling of my own over the course of quarantine, and it feels so much cozier and warmer than before. If I squint at my desk, maybe I could almost imagine myself at the library with my friends after school.

Though quarantine has certainly put a damper on physical social gatherings, it never prevents quality virtual time together! Whether it be lying to your friends in a heated game of “Among Us” or frolicking in the cherry fields of your islands in “Animal Crossing” (yes, that’s me in the patchwork sweater!), hanging out with your friends never has to end! There are so many unique ways to connect — all you need is some WiFi and a friend to call.