As a clinical social worker, I must admit, I am fairly embarrassed that I did not previously know about National Cheer Up the Lonely Day. On my quest to write this blog post, I got to researching the origins of the day, and now, while July 11th might be my new favorite “holiday,” it’s hard to ignore that many people around us, including our friends, neighbors, and colleagues may be struggling with feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Considering the whirlwind that was 2020, this may come as no surprise. The unintended consequences of quarantine may have left many of us feeling alone, confused, anxious, and perhaps even depressed at times. The call for mental health services in the state, and nationally, are at an all-time high. For many, the pre-COVID-19 world is a distant memory, and as we adjust and navigate our “new normal,” many things may have changed. Perhaps friend groups look different, conflicts with family members have increased, job loss and financial stress have become paramount. Whatever the reason, we can all relate to feeling lonely and lost from time to time, and the gift of unexpected companionship may not solve all the problems, but may ease the pain–if even just temporarily.
This year, use July 11th as a reminder to check in with those people in your life that may need a little extra TLC. One small act of kindness can change the whole trajectory of a person’s life!
If you need some ideas to celebrate Cheer Up the Lonely Day, consider these suggestions:
- Listen Up. When life gets overwhelming, just offering a listening ear and allowing someone to vent can be most helpful.
- Have a few dollars to spare? Pay it forward—whether it’s for coffee or Taco Bell, Venmo a friend!
- Leave a note for a friend—even a post-it note will work. My personal favorite; “you got this!”
- Send a story of kindness—there is so much chaos happening in the world right now, send an uplifting story to a friend in need of a smile.
- Surprise a friend with a meal and drop it off—who doesn’t love surprise pizza?
- Send funny jokes to a friend and encourage them to laugh.
- Give a hug—either virtually or in person.
- Participate in an outdoor activity together—whether walking, hiking, biking, etc.
- Volunteer together—perhaps at a nursing home or with populations at high risk of experiencing isolation,
- Take on a creative project together—maybe a house project, gardening, or a fine arts craft.
- Simply be there for them.
- Ask them if they need help—consider asking if your friend or family member needs counseling as a potential support. Encourage them to explore employee assistance program (EAP) options, or contact their insurance company for a referral.