During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve collectively experienced the loss of our typically busy social lives. Previously, frequent socializing or traveling could be used as a means of avoidance, whether from friction in intimate relationships or uncomfortable feelings like loneliness. Our Founder and Clinical Director Matt Lundquist is featured in Shape Magazine, addressing how the pandemic has changed the ways we cope with isolation by remaining permanently busy.
Writer Nikhita Mahtani cites Cigna’s 2020 Loneliness Index that states that 61% of all working adults report feeling isolated (up from only 12% in 2018). And during quarantine, which doesn’t allow for the possibility of escaping through a packed social schedule, some have inundated themselves with other things like work.
In particular, working from home provides ample opportunity for useful distraction, especially since the boundaries between work and play are increasingly blurred. Matt explains, “People don’t distinguish when work ends and begins, and because they don’t get solace from their intimate relationships and social lives anymore, they throw themselves even more into habits like work and exercise.”
Even before the pandemic, staying inordinately busy was seen with, as Matt articulates, “a sense of pride.” “It’s much easier to focus on what society has conditioned you to believe makes you successful as opposed to focusing on your intimate relationships,” Matt says.
While this avoidant behavior can cause “more problems than it’s fixing,” Matt also cautions that people should be compassionate with themselves, especially in such stressful and uncertain times. Matt observes, “Sitting with feelings can be really scary for some people–like actually asking themselves what they need for the day, whether that’s a run in the park, social interaction, or just time alone. We’ve avoided our feelings for so long that we run on autopilot, and don’t acknowledge how we feel–instead, we do what we think we should do, rather than what we want to do.”
And what’s a way to break that cycle of merely doing what we think we should do? Matt suggests becoming more aware of these patterns: “It may be scary facing these things, but the payoff is huge…It’ll lead to a much happier, fulfilled life at the end of the day.”
Read more of “Are You Really That Busy or Are You Just *Really* Lonely?” in Shape Magazine.