TAMPA, Fla. — Valentine’s Day represents romance and love but after two years of this pandemic, many are not feeling the love, just a great deal of loneliness.
A 2021 Social Pronow poll finds 36% of Americans say they’ve felt more lonely now than ever due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
So ABC Action News anchor Wendy Ryan spoke with a mental health expert about how to face your loneliness, even on Valentine’s Day.
“Loneliness can also take place in a crowded room, or you can be lonely at a dinner table surrounded by people who love you. Or you can find yourself lonely in a marriage bed that you’ve shared with somebody for 20 or 30 years, explained mental health expert Doctor John Delony.
He also hosts the ‘Dr. John Delony Show,’ where people call in for advice on mental wellness issues or relationship issues.
He says whether you’re single, in a relationship or married, Valentine’s Day may be challenging for those lacking a connection and feeling lonely.
“I think it’s important when you’re feeling lonely, to just stop and take stock of where you are,” Delony suggests.
And this pandemic has taken its toll on our mental well-being.
A study by Cigna finds three in five Americans or 61% classify as being lonely and because loneliness signals our fight or flight response, this can cause racing heart rates, lack of sleep or overconsumption of food and alcohol.
“There’s no bravado in saying ‘I could do all this by myself.’ That’s just not how we’re designed and how we’re wired up. We gotta have other people. So yeah, I think when you find yourself anxious, when you find yourself spinning out, the first thing you can do is sit down with somebody else that you trust and say ‘I’m not okay.’ And the healing starts then,” he explained.
If your marriage has endured a lot of stress during COVID, Delony says it’s time to be honest with yourself and your spouse.
“This is going to sound cheesy, and I don’t care! I’m going to look in the mirror and say, ‘What do I need right now?’ And then, the second part, which is harder than being reflective is ‘I’m going to communicate that to my partner,'” Delony said.
And if you’re searching for a relationship, Delony recommends evaluating your life but don’t isolate.
“I want everyone to understand, nobody is better if you’re not around. Reach out to somebody. Make sure you’re connecting with other people, again, whether that’s a professional, whether that’s a hotline, whether that’s a former coach. I don’t care who it is, make sure you’re connecting with other people,” he explained.
Finally, if you’re single on February 14?
“If you don’t have a person on Valentine’s Day, who cares anymore! Get a group of friends and y’all go out or if you just want to sit at home, just sit at home. Do what you need, and stop looking around and seeing how everyone else is doing. Don’t compare relationships. It’s a recipe for disaster,” he warned.
Dr. John Delony is a national best-selling author and has a new book called “Own Your Past, Change Your Future.” For more information on his book, click here. And to listen to his mental health show click here.