Tonight’s episode of the Perpetual Notion Machine discusses the psychological effects from COVID-19, mainly how social isolation, even when it’s voluntary, can lead to loneliness and feelings of stress. The show didn’t quite come off perfectly. PNM apologizes to those who listened and heard the problems we faced at the beginning. We tried to connect PNM’er Dennis Shaffer and his guest Karen Smith from the studio using Google Hangouts, which has worked on previous shows. But not this time. Thanks to engineer Chali Pittman for her quick response in getting us connected by telephone. The audio in this post has been edited, removing most of the problem section at the beginning.
Karen is a postdoctoral fellow in psychology at UW-Madison who studies the human responses to stress. She describes some factors that can lead to stress responses in people and what happens to a person under stress. In terms of isolation or loneliness, one factor is the feeling of having no control over one’s life or condition. And COVID-19 provides more uncertainty on what’s to come that adds to this stress. But, she adds that even though you may feel all alone by yourself, there is comfort in knowing we all have the same thing in common: COVID-19 has caused us to self-isolate to protect ourselves and others. You may not know other people, but they know how you feel. And also, she recommends calling people on the phone or through some online virtual chat room, and helping people in need can provide some sense of self-worth.
Another possible source of help are virtual therapy sessions where you can meet with a counselor or psychiatrist one-on-one via computer. Check with your healthcare provider.
And another possible option are online community chat rooms that have just started popping up. Some provide groups of people just to talk with, some provide support.
Meet Up Madison Mostly a general place to hang out. Check out the “social” category groups.
And finally for us seniors check out AARP Community Connections.