Life in lockdown is starting to become the new normal for many of us. Quick trips to the supermarket, working from home, no social gatherings and many of the beaches are closed. We’re all starting to adjust to this new and strange way of living during the times of Covid-19.
But life in lockdown, inundated as it is with countless hours of screen time, is also sadly bereft of social time. We’re starting to face more and more time alone and that is something that is hard to get used to.
Before the outbreak of the Coronavirus, loneliness was recognised as a social and emotional epidemic. A recent study found that more than 20% of adults in both the U.S. and U.K say they are often lonely and the percentage is even higher in Australia and NZ – where it’s up to 27 percent. One in four Australians are lonely. And nearly 55% of the population feel that they lack companionship at least sometimes.
The Coronavirus pandemic has now added weight to an already heavy burden. Social restrictions and lockdown measures are now contributing to a rise in loneliness and isolation globally and this is alarming.
Loneliness can often lead to depression and anxiety. This is an especially significant piece of information because statistics tell us that 1 in 7 Australians will experience depression at some point in their lives while 1 in 4 Australians will experience anxiety in the same period of time.
In 1938, researchers at Harvard Medical School launched the Harvard Study of Adult Development. The study is currently the longest-running study of adult life ever undertaken and has now been running for over 80 years.
The study has followed the lives of 724 men who were divided into two groups. The first group of young men were in their second year of study at Harvard University in 1938. The second group were young men of the same age from Boston’s poorest inner-city neighbourhoods.
Every two years researchers contacted the men to find out how they were doing. They were sent questionnaires to fill out, interviewed in their homes and received medical screenings, including brain scans. Researchers also interviewed their wives and children.
One of the key points the study discovered was that social connections are vital to our well-being whereas loneliness kills. People who are socially connected are happier and physically healthier whereas those who are lonely or isolated experience a decline in their health earlier in mid-life.
The study also found that the men who were in stable, happy, securely attached relationships at age 50 were the healthiest at age 80. The study shows a direct correlation between loneliness and a decline in physical well-being.
So, what can we do to quell loneliness? Especially during these unusual times we live in? The most important thing is to maintain and build relationships and plug into a warm and friendly community.
Here are some simple suggestions to help do that:
First for those who use technology.
– Video calling, there’s Zoom, Skype, Whatsapp, and Facebook messenger
– Form Online groups
– Forward an article of interest
– Shared virtual experiences: visits to a zoo, a safari, a museum and galleries
– Social Media: share a photo or a funny video
And for those who aren’t familiar with technology here’s a few no-tech ideas:
– Regular phone calls
– Return to the days of snail mail – write letters and send postcards
– Share books and encouraging clips
Communication – maintaining and strengthening relationships is important. We are social beings. Relationships are vitally important. And the most important relationship we can build, that will give us a sense of connection regardless of where we are or what our circumstances are, is our relationship with God. In Matthew 28:20 Jesus says this,
“I am with you always, even to the end of the world”.
And then in Hebrews 13:5 He says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you”.
Jesus promises to stay by our side no matter what we face. This assurance alone should encourage us. We are never alone if we have Jesus in our lives.
In Revelation 3:20 Jesus says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and dine with him, and he with Me”.
Jesus is, even now, waiting to enter our hearts so that we can have fellowship with Him.
In 1 John 1:3-4 the apostle John writes this,
“We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make your joy complete”.
God wants to give us the ultimate experience of communion; fellowship with Him. And the Bible tells us that this kind of fellowship is so transformative that it can fill us with joy. It really is life-changing.
Think about it. Research tells us that happiness is found in secure, abiding relationships. The Bible tells us that this joy and fellowship can be found first in Jesus. Do you have that kind of relationship with Jesus?
Have you had fellowship with Jesus that has filled you with joy? It is yours for the taking whenever you need it. You can connect with Jesus, through prayer, and through the Bible. If you wish you can try an online prayer group or Bible study group.
Why not give this kind of fellowship a chance today? I can guarantee you that it will dispel your loneliness and fill you with immeasurable peace and joy. It’ll really change your life forever. If you’d like to give it a try, then I’d like to recommend the free gift we have for you, it’s the booklet, Finding Courage to Meet Life’s Challenges.