Researchers have consistently found that we need connections to survive, to be happy, and to feel more at peace. But, this can be tricky for many of us. The last stat I saw was that about half of us report feeling lonely. And, this stat increases the younger one is.

To many of us, loneliness can truly feel like a friend. A friend we'd prefer not to have, but a friend who keeps following us around throughout the years.

Some of the factors that contribute to isolation and loneliness include: traveling and living in various parts of the country, being busy with work or school, feeling burned out, experiencing past traumas and having a difficult time trusting others, experiencing social anxiety, fearing judgments, anticipating that nothing good can come from an interaction, thinking that humans will just hurt us.

Friendships, whether superficial or incredibly deep, can be difficult to navigate. Another reason why some of us stay away from others is that we know relationships are difficult and We. Absolutely. Do. Not. Want. To. Put. In. The. Work.

If you're feeling lonely, though, let's work at it! Let's do the work together! Research has also found that when committing to a goal, it's better/more effective to have a buddy to do the work with you and hold you accountable. So, as you look at your contacts, I hope you're able to find someone who is willing to join you as you both explore ways to feel less lonely.

How do we start?

One -- If you have experienced trauma, in which loved ones and others have betrayed you, hurt you, disappointed you, caused you a lot of suffering, and contributed to experiences of depression, anxiety, and narratives like "everyone will hurt me; I'll be alone forever; I'm broken," I recommend going to therapy. This option is great for more affordable treatment.

Two -- If you'd prefer to do some self-work, there are so many great books out there for that! Another one, if you're wanting to feel energized, motivated, empowered, confident, and FIRED UP! And, another one, if you're wanting to work through your anxiety! Ram Dass is also great, particularly if you enjoy mindfulness, meditation, and learning ways to embody more love and kindness!

Three -- Build connections in simple ways. Simple could look like -- smiling at someone as you walk by them, saying hello to the person sitting next to you at the bar, on the bus, or on the train, texting someone in your phone that you've been meaning to reconnect with and maybe asking them if you both can talk on the phone sometimes, setting up a lunch date with a peer, colleague, or family member, or sending letters to old friends.

Researchers have found that we don't necessarily need deep connections to combat loneliness. Having a laugh with the delivery person can be enough. Slow down, breathe, relax, and attempt to have a pleasant conversation, filled with kindness, with everyone you come across-- a cashier, a houseless person, or a neighbor, for examples.

Four -- As you're engaging in therapy and/or doing self-work, and/or pushing yourself to connect with others more, make sure you're also connecting with yourself. This can be done by journaling, writing kind and supportive letters to yourself, engaging in activities that help you relax, or that help you feel present, nourished, and comforted; this could be walking in nature, meditating, going to church, singing, dancing, doing yoga, and engaging in deep breathing throughout the day.

My favorite practice: at the end of the day, as you're brushing your teeth and getting ready for bed, think of 3 things that went well. This can also be 3 things you're proud of. Or, 3 things that you're happy with and that made you smile.

Practice having gratitude for being able to have all of these amazing experiences. You're able to laugh, to feel the sun on your body, to watch the sun set, to joke with others, to do work that you're passionate about, to feel confident, to feel joy, to feel loved, to feel wanted, and to feel effective; thank yourself for doing your best everyday. Thank yourself for doing what you can.

Here's to you. I wish you so much love, connection, and happiness.

The world always seems like it's in shambles. Particularly, now, when every news article seems to be about the Coronavirus, it's hard for us to not feel panicked or scared. Our minds can jump to the worst conclusions (e.g., "ABSOLUTELY EVERYONE WILL GET SICK AND DIE," "THIS IS THE END").

How do we manage this stress?

I think the number 1 thing we can do is: if we're prone to ruminating on worst case scenarios, having lots of thoughts of "what ifs" or having worried thoughts, we need to practice noticing these thoughts and letting these thoughts go. When we find ourselves worrying, we need to ask ourselves "is this worrying useful or helpful" and we also need to tell ourselves "OK. I'm having worried thoughts. What can I do about this? What are some actions I can take?"

Number 2-- focus on what you can do. There are so many resources out there that talk about how we can stay safer and healthier (this particular resource has some info for caregivers as well as ways that we can prepare and plan ahead). And, guess what! A lot of these precautions -- you know them already! (e.g., wash your hands for 20+ seconds or to the tune of the ABCs; don't shake others' hands; don't touch your nose and mouth).

This is a really cute comic geared for kids. You can print it and hand it out to folks.

So, we try our best to stay calm (e.g., practicing meditation, mindfulness, and yoga). We also try our best to let worried thoughts go and focus on actionable steps we can take to help ourselves, our family, and our fellow neighbors -- consulting with physicians, praying for others if you believe in prayer, practicing lovingkindness meditation, making sure you're taking care of yourself (getting good sleep, eating nutritious foods, challenging unhelpful thoughts, building up your psychological and physical immune system), helping others stay positive, calm, and confident so that they, too, can take steps to prevent the infection from spreading or learn ways to heal if they do start to feel sick.

I will see you in the bathroom while washing my hands :D

Take good care of yourself.

Life is tough!

Sometimes we're busy, working 5,000 jobs, taking care of 10,000 kids, stressing about money, or worrying about when we'll finally live the kind of life we want to live; a life filled with love, joy, connection, passion projects, travel and free time.

When we're exhausted, drained, and depleted, I think we tend to engage in activities that don't necessarily help to recharge our batteries, to replenish us, or to nourish us.

Since the weekend is approaching, and many of us are less busy during the weekend, I wanted to explore which activities are actually healthy and helpful for us, so that when Monday comes again, we feel beyond amazing and ready!

Here are some activities that many of us engage in during our time off: binge watching TV, laying on the couch or in bed for hours, scrolling through social media for hours, having arguments with strangers or loved ones on social media, binge drinking with loved ones, or using other substances. What am I missing? What are your go to behaviors on your days off?

But, when we engage in those activities, I think we might realize that we feel even more depleted and tired afterwards, and possibly even depressed. What we know, though, is that what typically makes us feel good is when we engage in tasks that have enough of a challenge for us, but also we feel that we have enough skills to overcome that challenge; this is what psychologists call flow. We also know that some of what truly brings us joy include: social connection, free time, being kind to each other, and feelings of gratitude.

Some of the questions we can ask ourselves are: who do we want to spend time with? How do we want to spend our free time in a way that we feel challenged, but also skilled, competent or efficacious? How can we be kinder to ourselves and others? Which activities can we engage in that makes us appreciate and feel grateful for our life even more?

As you answer these questions, the answers might give you some ideas about how you can spend your days or time off more adaptively.

New activities might involve: going on a hike with loved ones, volunteering with a close friend, drinking alcohol and using substances in a mindful and slow way so that you're still able to connect and be present with the close friends you're spending time with, taking a cooking class in an effort to learn new skills and meet new people, talking to loved ones about whether they'd like to have a book club, finding activities through meetup groups, or making a plan before the time off comes.

This plan can entail checking in with yourself and asking yourself: what do I need? How can I be kinder and practice more gratitude this weekend? What do I wish for this weekend? How do I want to feel this weekend, and what do I need to do for myself and for others, to feel what I want to feel? What's preventing me from doing what I need and want to do for myself and others? How can I start facing and pushing through the obstacles that are in my way?

These questions encompass a process that psychologists have come up with called: WOOP. What's your wish? What's your dream outcome? What are the obstacles? What's your if-then plan to face those obstacles and get your wish? You can WOOP often! You can WOOP every minute and every hour and everyday! Lol! Here's to you WOOPing so that you start to more readily engage in the self-care activities you wish you could engage in more.

I hope you find some incredibly, nourishing activities to partake in during your days off! Also, if you're looking to meet new people in NYC, you might enjoy the joy list.

Take good care of you and those around you.

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