I feel so lonely. I have not seen my family or friends in a while due to COVID-19. My family members are staying pretty closed off, and I am honoring their desire not to see people outside their homes. My friends’ feelings about meeting up with others are all over the board. Do you think I should get out of the house and start seeing people again?
– Lonely and Done
Dear Lonely and Done,
This has been an incredibly unusual year, to say the least. At this point, I bet almost every human being has felt lonely and bored more than once. I recommend you decide what your comfort level is regarding social contact with others, in accordance with state guidelines. If you are okay with meeting up with a friend for coffee but feel unsure about having dinner with four friends, then start with the coffee date. See how you feel as you get out in the community. Are you anxious? Or do you feel happy and pleased to return to a somewhat regular routine (e.g. meeting someone for a bite to eat)? Everyone needs to determine their own comfort level during a worldwide pandemic while taking into consideration that every day, our actions have risks and we can follow safety guidelines while slowly returning to allowable normal activities. I call it my “freedom tickets” during a crisis; how do I want to use my freedom tickets this week? I base my choices off the necessities first (going to work, the grocery store), then what makes me feel the best/most like me (getting my hair cut).
Best wishes as you branch out of your home and connect with others again.
Kari O’Neill, MSW, LICSW, is a licensed independent clinical social worker and a resident of Issaquah Highlands.
This column is for entertainment purposes only. If you are in crisis and in need of support please contact the Crisis Clinic at 866-427-4747.