Loneliness has become an epidemic with more than three in five Americans feeling lonely. COVID-19 has certainly not helped. However, there are ways to combat loneliness and some of them are surprisingly high-tech. FirstLantic has compiled ten suggestions that can help reduce those feelings of isolation.
- Help others – volunteering can be a great way to meet other people and put the focus on something positive like making others feel better. If you can’t get out of your home, there are also ways to volunteer online through organizations such as the United Nations.
- Sign up for an online course and try to complete a lesson every day. Learn a new language, study ancient cultures, or improve your vocabulary. There is no shortage of things you can learn with both paid and free options.
- Join an emotional support group such as org or an online chat forum such as QuarantineChat – specifically designed by two artists to help people deal with being alone during COVID-19. Another option is Woebot, a cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)-based chatbot app developed by a Stanford University research psychologist. Monitoring and analyzing users’ moods during chats, the app helps users learn about themselves. Or Replika which enables users to create a personal digital companion.
- Adopt or foster a furry friend. If you can’t make that type of commitment, then try a robotic one instead. Intuition Robotics, an Israeli startup that utilizes AI to design personalized companion technologies for the elderly, created ElliQ, a digital home companion that responds to questions, initiates calls, makes appointments, analyzes the user’s environment, and offers entertainment and mental enrichment activities. A Japanese company invented Paro, a baby seal that has sensors that enable the robot to perceive the user’s environment, sense that it is being petted, and recognize voices and words.
- Exercise – take a free online yoga course through the YMCA or find a neighborhood group that you could join to take a walk, run, or bike ride with others each day.
- Interact virtually with friends or family from your living room – Alcove is designed by the AARP Innovation Labs to bring international and intergenerational families together to play games, watch videos, and forge memories. Or you may way to check out Rendever, a VR platform that utilizes neuroscience to offer activities for cognitive stimulation, socialization, and therapy, even helping users recreate meaningful memories.
- Write in a journal, put together a puzzle or try coloring online. You will be amazed at how creative and addictive coloring can be for adults!
- Redecorate – pick a room and start physically reorganizing or do it the less labor intensive way and try it online first.
- Create a family tree using genealogy websites. You can even get other family members or friends involve by inviting them to participate.
No matter whether we actually live alone or are surrounded by people, all of us can feel lonely at times. However, you don’t need to suffer in silence. There are places to go for help. And if you know of family or friends that may be feeling isolated, please reach out to them. You will make their day and probably your own as well.
Other resources can be found below:
- Fast Company – Five ways technology can combat loneliness