During the pandemic, we have all experienced loneliness at different points, for different reasons, in different ways. Covid-19 has been a breeding ground for social isolation and disconnection, where we have found ourselves at times, feeling depressed, fearful and unsupported. Santini et al., (2020) found that social isolation, predicts higher subsequent perceived isolation, which in turn predicts increased symptoms of anxiety and depression.
The message? We need to kick loneliness’s ass! You are not on your own and I’m sure if you ask the majority of people, they would agree, that at times, they have felt extremely lonely during the Covid-19 pandemic. Loss, cancellations, isolation, daily death figures, restricted access to friends and family, working from home, redundancies, anxiety when leaving the house…all experiences I’m sure we can all now resonate with.
Without further ado here are 10 things to overcome loneliness during the pandemic…
1.Stop saying “I am okay on my own”.
We are taught to be independent at a very young age, but what we are not taught in conjunction with this, is that everything in the world works in a symbiotic way with everything else. When we consistently tell ourselves we are independent and we don’t need anyone, we can find ourselves becoming lonely. We are social creatures who innately need help and love to help others. Yes of course you may be okay on your own, but you do not have to feel like you have to do everything by yourself.
2. Don’t be afraid to ask PEOPLE for help
In society, we are surrounded by technology, which we now look to for answers. This has caused us to form connections with technology rather than people. Remember, people help us better than any machine, even for the small things (maybe not who starred in The Never Ending Story or how big the circumference of the moon is) but nevertheless get into the habit of asking a real person for help first. Never feel ashamed to ask for help, building connections with other people and asking for help is good for our mental health and does not mean you are inadequate, it means you’re smart. ASK QUESTIONS, ASK FOR HELP.
3. What are you eating?
“You are what you eat”, is a saying for a reason. When we fuel our bodies with the wrong food, we feel sluggish, we lack energy and we don’t feel like meeting up or connecting with others either face to face or online. I know at the moment meeting others is limited or you may feel anxious about leaving he house, but even if it’s with the people in your household/bubble or one close friend, we need to aid our body to find the energy to connect, which means eating and drinking right. Grab some old recipe books, wake up with some fruit and vegetables in your fridge and drink at least 2-3 liters of water a day. It makes all the difference! If you need any support with this, go to the amazing www.transformingexerciseandnutrition.co.uk to sign onto their structured 10-week exercise and nutrition course, which provides you with full support, guidance and motivation on your journey. Use the code OPM10 for 10% discount.
4. Learn to sit with yourself, and be present.
We are programmed to believe that if you are on your own there is something really wrong with you. We do lots of different things to keep busy and to run away from ourselves, just so we are not alone. Most of us are unable to spend 5 minutes with ourselves doing nothing, as it causes anxiety. Anxiety emanates from not being, feeling and thinking in the present moment. It is therefore important to find out what you like to do when you are by yourself, which does not distract you from the moment. What did you like to do as a child? Could you start a journal? Could you paint a picture? Do some crafts? Bake a cake? Read a book? Re-connect with yourself. EVEN JUST 10 MINUTES!!!! The more you sit with yourself the more you come to love yourself and the less lonely you feel.
5. End relationships/friendships that do not serve you.
Don’t be with someone just because you don’t want to be alone. People should bring out the best in you and they should want you to feel happy at all times. When we spend time with people who are not meant for us or are not on the same level, we end up feeling more lonely.
This sounds harsh, but detach from any friendships/relationships that do not serve you, find your tribe!!! This is not an easy one, especially if, like me, you are a people pleaser, so do it in your own time. This may require some soul searching, be gentle with yourself.
6. Don’t hang around people who don’t understand you!
Find people who are singing from the same song sheet. You need to connect with people who get what you’re talking about. There is no right or wrong, we are all on different frequencies. You need to be around people who accept your thoughts without judgment. There’s no better feeling than when you resonate and bounce off others who understand you. You can be surrounded by people but feel completely alone if you are surrounding yourself with the wrong people. Who gets you? Who will speak and listen to you about things which are below surface level without judgement?
7. If you’re in a job you don’t like, start looking at alternative options or adding things into your leisure time.
I used to hate my job! I didn’t get on with the managers, I felt like their values were not in line with mine and the company ethos didn’t include any guidelines around moral/ethical considerations for their staff. It made me MISERABLE. Although not always easy it’s important to look at other options, so that you feel there is a way out, even if not right now. No one wants to feel trapped in a job they don’t like. In addition to this, start a hobby on the side of your job which may open other opportunities for your hobby to become your job. Ask yourself, is my lifestyle and work 100% in line with what I want? Does this job fall in line with my values? Is the wage worth the loneliness? What can I do in my spare time to create more balance?
8. Don’t suppress your feelings. Find time to talk about your feelings. Everything in the information generation if quite fast-paced, therefore you need to find someone who will take the time to truly listen to what you have to say. How do you feel? What are your emotions? Find someone who will listen.
9. Living through a phone? Yes, true connections with real people can be found online, but tech can never replace nature, it can never replace true human connection. I know that isn’t as easy these days, but going for a walk with a friend socially distancing, or having people in your back garden for a couple of hours will soothe your soul. If you do find yourself online a lot, make sure you are finding meaningful connections. Not just typing or scrolling through amazing snapshots of peoples days, but talking about issues, hobbies and finding helpful articles close to your heart, which make you happy.
10. Represent your true version.
Finally don’t wear a (metaphorical) mask, don’t be who you are not. You will know when you don’t feel yourself, something will feel uncomfortable, our instinct has a great way of letting us know something isn’t right. Show the world your true and authentic self.
You will then find people who truly understand you. The more you do this regardless of how uncomfortable, you will feel less lonely. If you don’t really know who are you are, take some time to write out the things that matter to you the most and journal, journal, journal. There’s no better feeling than being yourself.