A Project for Better Journalism chapter
Editorials and Profiles

Dear Abby,

Dear Abby,

How do I properly cope with both loneliness and depression while in isolation?


Dear Anonymous,

This year has been full of highs and lows, but maybe more lows than highs. There is too much uncertainty and fear circulating in the world. COVID really hit us hard. For a variety of people, the result of feeling uncertainty and fear is having to deal with the intense effects of loneliness and depression.

As people know, in order to keep our fellow humans safe, it is essential to isolate yourself from anyone that is not a part of your immediate family. Although this may keep you physically safe, I cannot say that it will keep emotionally safe. We as humans require social interaction in one way or another, but this is nearly impossible during this time which may result in signs of depression.The New York Times noted, “In a study of 7,000 men and women in Alameda County, Calif., begun in 1965, Lisa F. Berkman and S. Leonard Syme found that ‘people who were disconnected from others were roughly three times more likely to die during the nine-year study than people with strong social ties.’” Although this feeling of isolation and unhappiness is currently unavoidable, there are a variety of ways to cope with these difficult, but completely normal emotions.

One incredibly effective way to get your mind off these feelings is to find a new hobby. Now I know that you may be asking, “How can I go out and try something new during a pandemic?” However, there are numerous activities you can try from the comfort of your own home. For example, try baking. Baking is easy, fun, and you will have delicious treats to enjoy. Susmita Baral, published writer, noted, “A study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology found that those who engage in creative projects (like cooking and baking) are happier in their day-to-day lives. After following 658 participants over the course of two weeks, the researchers found a correlation between everyday creativity and positive psychological functioning.” 

Along with baking, I suggest that those who are struggling, try to workout at least three times a week. Not only is being active physically beneficial, but it is mentally beneficial, too. While working out, the brain releases endorphins, also known as a feel-good chemical. To sum it up, working out has been proven to relieve signs of stress and depression. If you attempt to workout for at least twenty minutes a day, I can nearly guarantee that you will see a positive change in your mood. An anonymous student said, “Working out has been my only escape from reality. It stops my mind from thinking about how much I miss my friends. Also, it allows me to release all of my energy which causes me to feel better physically and emotionally. I find that I have better days overall when I have worked out.”

Furthermore, reaching out to a friend through social media can improve your mood. I will be the first to admit that interaction through a screen is not the same as an in person exchange, but it is better than nothing. Let a friend know that you are experiencing depression and loneliness. They may be able to provide you with the support that you need and if they cannot support you, they can help you find someone who can. 

Last but certainly not least, listen to new music or watch a new show. Variety is the spice of life. There are thousands of shows available on Netflix, Hulu, HBO, YouTube, etc. that I guarantee you have never seen or heard of. Some shows may be exceptionally long while others may be brief, but however long it may be, a brilliant TV show has the capability to get your mind off of anything. 

Although you may not see it directly, countless people are struggling, too. We are living in a horrifying time and there is nothing that I can say to change that, but I suggest that you challenge this terrifying time and your emotions. Everything that you are feeling is typical. Feel and acknowledge all of your emotions, but it is essential that you do not dwell on them for too long. As J.K. Rowling proclaimed, “I have never been remotely ashamed of having been depressed. Never. What’s there to be ashamed of? I went through a really tough time and I am quite proud that I got out of that.” Things will get better with time.