5 Ways to Lift Your Mood When You’re Feeling Isolated

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I think it’s safe to say that no matter where you live in the world, right now, we are going through unprecedented times. As many of us struggle to find balance in the current temporary, albeit extended, “new normal,” emotions can run the gamut.

I’ve noticed with both friends and myself that mood swings are pretty typical these days, bouncing from optimism and fortitude in one moment to despair and fear the next.

If you’re finding the adjustment to social distancing a little more overwhelming to manage than you anticipated, here are 5 ways to lift up your mood when you’re feeling isolated.

1. Practice a little gratitude

Gratitude is that state of mind and wonderful warm feeling you get when you recognize the little gifts and pleasures in your life, pay attention to what’s good and going well, and affirm and acknowledge good things in general.

According to the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence: “…gratitude is strongly linked to mental health and life satisfaction. Grateful people experience more joy, love, and enthusiasm. Gratitude also reduces lifetime risk for depression, anxiety, and substance abuse disorders.”

Pretty powerful stuff!

2. Harness the power of music to combat isolation

Music is known to have the ability to change your mood and has even been used therapeutically in hospitals for pain management and emotional well-being. 

Researchers at Japan’s Osaka University found that listening to music, especially music with a major rather than minor tone, decreased the stress hormone cortisol and increased the feel-good hormone, oxytocin.

Most people I know have that favorite song that just transports them to a happy place. Or maybe for you, there is a particular genre of music that you find especially uplifting, soothing, or energizing to listen to.

Whether it’s classical, pop, new age or rap, turn on what moves you and tune out the world for just a bit.

3. Learn something new when you’re feeling isolated

Today, there are so many things available that you can learn online. Lesson.com and TakeLessons.com are two of my favorite sites where you can study live via video chat with teachers and learn anything from the guitar to a new language.

There are also some incredible free options available! Here are 450 Ivy League courses you can take online right now for free – yes, you read that right.

The eight Ivy League schools, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, Columbia, and the University of Pennsylvania are among the most prestigious in the world. They are also highly selective and extremely difficult to get into, but all of these universities now offer free online courses across multiple platforms.

4. Spend some time in the sun

Sunlight and darkness trigger the release of hormones in the brain.

This is useful for:

  • Regulating circadian rhythms
  • Sleep patterns
  • Increasing the brain’s release of the mood-boosting hormone, serotonin

Without enough sun exposure, your serotonin levels can dip, causing you to feel anxious or even depressed.

Can’t get outside right now? Even just sitting by a window where the sun comes in can make a huge difference to how you feel.

According to Harvard Medical School, there are numerous benefits to moderate sun exposure including helping you to feel more focused and calm. While UV rays don’t penetrate glass, if you are going outside for a burst of warmth and light, be sure to use the appropriate sunscreen for your skin and the time of year.

5. Connect with friends and family

Chances are you’re not the only one feeling isolated and down, so don’t wait for others to always be the ones to reach out! Show a little initiative and strike up more than a text conversation.

Jump on FaceTime, Zoom, or Skype – just seeing the other person with their quirks and full-on personality can be enough to brighten both your mood and theirs.

If your situation allows, try taking a virtual walk with someone. I used to do this frequently for one of my elderly aunts who was shut-in. I’d call her on Skype and do a video chat, showing her the neighborhood and anything I thought she might find interesting as I walked around.

She loved it!

We got to chat and catch up and she felt like she was actually getting to see a glimpse of the world again.

You can also try calling a friend and going out for a walk in your respective locations. I also do this about once a week and have a group of friends that I rotate through so none of us get bored. It’s a fun way to get some fresh air and get a few miles in.

There are so many ways to stop yourself from feeling isolated and really pick up your mood.

In addition to what’s above, try including a little exercise, meditation, and reach out and help someone else – even if it’s just sharing this article with someone who needs it!

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Practice gratitude

To practice gratitude in your own life, try setting a goal to find 5-10 things to be grateful for every single day. Write them down in your planner, a journal, Evernote, or even text them to a friend. Texting is my fav! And I have a Gratitude Buddy to make sure we both do it every day.

Here are some from our recent exchanges:
• Warm weather, sunshine and being able to get out for walks
• All of the free yoga classes that have popped up on Instagram Live
• Netflix & Hulu (yes, we all need a good binge every once in a while!)
• FaceTime and Zoom for staying connected
• A super comfy bed to retreat to snuggle in at night
• Funny memes from friends for a daily giggle
• Electricity, running water, hot water – many around the world aren’t so lucky
• An abundance of super yummy and nutritious food to eat
Being truly grateful is powerful and can help keep your positive vibes strong and prevent you from feeling isolated. If you only choose one thing to do off the list, consider trying this.


Turn up that Spotify

Listen to music – Whether it’s classical, pop, new age or rap, turn on what moves you and tune out the world for just a bit.


Take an online class

Currently, there are around 450 active courses to choose from including Computer Science, Data Science, Programming, Business, Humanities, Art & Design, Social Sciences, Health & Medicine, Personal Development, and more.

It’s a great way to up-level your skills, get inspired about the present and future possibilities, and take your mind off what’s going on in the world in general.

Lesson.com and TakeLessons.com are two of my favorite sites to use for these classes.


Pick up your phone

Talk to your friends while you take a walk outside! You can even video chat if you or your friend need a change of scenery.

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About the Author

Hunter Phoenix

Hunter Phoenix

Certified Professional Life Coach

Hunter has an M.A. in Psychology and is a Certified Professional Life Coach. For more than 10 years, she coached clients to find and follow their passion and live their best lives. Hunter has also done youth coaching work with Covenant House, realizing that this is such a challenging and important time in life.
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