Feelings of Loneliness

Feelings of Loneliness

Many people feel lonely right now. You may be separated from family and friends, separated from co-workers, worksites, and your usual patients or clients, spending time in self-isolation, or worried about spreading the virus to others. During pandemics, many healthcare workers also experience stigma from others who think they’ll get sick if they spend time with a healthcare worker. Any of these situations can take a real toll on your mental health.


Changes in how things are done—both changes at work and changes in your daily life—are constant reminders that we’re still in the middle of a pandemic and life isn’t the same. These changes can amplify difficult feelings like loneliness, uncertainty, fear, despair, and hopelessness. This is a normal part of any traumatic or challenging situation and you aren’t alone.


Loneliness can be particularly hard right now because we have to take public health measures into consideration. It isn’t just a matter of meeting up with a friend or joining a group to meet new people. While loneliness can be very uncomfortable, it’s a feeling. Simple skills and strategies to boost resilience can help lower the volume on feelings like loneliness and help you find well-being despite separation from people you care about.


Seek support


One of the most important things you can do is reach out when you need it. It takes a lot of courage to ask for help, but finding the right support can help you feel better. Here are some services and support to try:

  • Care to Speak: Confidential online peer support with healthcare workers who understand what you’re going through.
  • PHSA’s Mobile Response Team: 24/7 support for healthcare workers. Call 1-888-686-3022 or email MRT@phsa.ca.
  • Your Family/Employee Assistance Program: Contact your workplace F/EAP provider to see how they can help you.
  • Free and paid counselling and psychotherapy: Visit www.heretohelp.bc.ca/covid-19-mental-health-supports for more on accessing short-term counselling or psychotherapy.
  • BC Mental Health Support Line: Call 310-6789 any time you need to talk to someone. They can also refer you to local mental health services.

While loneliness can be very uncomfortable, it’s a feeling. Simple skills and strategies to boost resilience and help lower the volume on feelings like loneliness and help you find well-being despite separation from people you care about. 


Take Care of Your Health and Well-being

Your physical health and mental health are connected. When you fall behind on healthy eating, sleep, and exercise, you might notice that negative thoughts come up more often. It may be harder to manage stress and harder to find hope and optimism. Taking care of yourself as well as you can make a big difference.


Take Time to Breathe

Find space to be still. Take a few minutes every day to disconnect and breathe. You can find simple breathing exercises from HealthLinkBC. Mindfulness is another great skill. If you’re interested in trying mindfulness, there are great apps like MindShift and Headspace to help you get started.

Focus on One Thing You Can do Right Now to Feel Better

Many people doubt their own strength and resilience in the middle of an emergency. When you feel overwhelmed, think of one thing you can realistically do right now (or by the end of the day) to help yourself feel better. For example, you could message a friend, go for a walk, call a support line, spend time on a hobby, or write a meal plan for the upcoming workweek.


Distract Yourself

Distraction can be a useful tool when you just feel really bad but can’t fix the problem right away. Watch a movie or show, read your favourite book, listen to music—whatever helps to interrupt negative thoughts and focus your attention on something else.


Reach Out and Give Back

Helping others can strengthen connections and improve your own mental health. Check in with friends, family members, and co-workers. Ask them how they’re doing and see if there is anything you can do to help. If a friend, family member, or co-worker is in self-isolation, have a meal or small gift delivered to their home. Simple acts can make a huge difference and remind others that you care about them.

Looking For More?

Free resources to help with your mental health available from your phone

Dr. Yuet Ting Ma, Pharm.D, RPh

“As a healthcare provider working in mental health and addictions, I believe Care to Speak is a great resource available to health care and social support workers to seek support from their peers. This pandemic has taken a massive toll on everyone’s mental health, especially for healthcare providers. I am truly honoured to participate in this program as a volunteer and provide support to others in their mental health journey.”

Wellness Program Coordinator

“I was able to reach out to help support myself when everything was so uncertain in the world. I appreciate what this service is doing in the community as it’s difficult to reach out when you work in a profession supporting others.”

Rehabilitation Specialist

“My experiences as a Care to Speak Peer Support Worker have been positive in that, I hope that it’s a resource that health care workers don’t need to access, but our reality is that this support is required. I’m grateful to be able to provide that opportunity to listen to my peers when they need it. I feel that a lot of the difficulties for healthcare workers are that sometimes friends and family members don’t quite understand the challenges they face, or they aren’t able to discuss their stressors due to privacy and confidentiality policies. Service users can reach out and know that the person on the other end is not going to judge them or try to give them advice. Regardless of why they’ve reached out, there’s a level of mutual understanding and respect and I think that’s what’s great about the Care to Speak Peer Support program.”