Dealing with Loneliness

Covid-19 has been an unsettling and volatile time for many of us. For those with mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety, it may have been especially difficult to cope with the lack of social interaction that many rely on for a stable and secure state of mind. Besides this, the heightened sense of social responsibility and constant awareness of the situation can be extremely overwhelming. It is especially important for us to firstly recognize that there is no intrinsic purpose to this pandemic. It is simply tragic. The best thing we can do is to become open-minded and mindful of ourselves and our surroundings as much as possible.

There are many things in life that we cannot control, and things will happen that we won’t be able to change. That’s okay. What we can control, however, is how we respond to these situations and take productive steps to manage our mental state. It is easy to let loneliness loom over us and effectively send us into a spiral of negative emotions and social insecurity. But it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t attempt to stop that from happening. Here are some ways to work against these controlling emotions:

  1. Acknowledge the feeling

Understanding how you feel is the first step to releasing the emotion. Keeping it bottled up will not only be overwhelming as it is, but heighten the feeling of helplessness. Remember, it is not a crime to feel lonely sometimes, whether it be in a large crowd or alone in our room. Your brain draws attention to feelings of pain and danger, and loneliness triggers that response alarm. As long as the feeling is recognized, you are in a much better position to overcome it.

  1. Recount your existing connections

Loneliness can be so consuming that often you can forget to rationalize your situation and as a result, have constant self-deflating thoughts. Being lonely can cause a subconscious response to further isolate yourself from people that you can trust, without recognizing that they exist as part of your individual support system and affirmation. Reaching out to these people and having an honest conversation can easily quell the negative feelings, allowing for your consolation and social connection. 

  1. Take some alone time to love yourself

The most crucial thing to overcoming loneliness is accepting and being okay with yourself. Before you can use the energy to think about your concerns with other people, it is worth taking some of it for yourself first in order to do the things that you enjoy without self-judgement. Be a bit kinder to yourself. Take the time to relax. Get back in touch with yourself.

  1. Fight ineffectual tendencies as much as possible

Ultimately, other people are not in control of the way you think, and do not suffer as much as you for having a negative mentality. It may be difficult, but you must try to develop an inner voice to refute negative tendencies and make a positive effort to move forward. Take initiative to reach out to others, without letting the worries dictated by your loneliness sway you. You can also make a conscious effort to think about others’ feelings and needs without being consumed by your own, whether it be strangers you pass by, acquaintances, friends or family.

  1. Perform acts of kindness

One of the best ways to avoid continuously isolating yourself from others is to perform acts of kindness. You can start small. Smile at your local convenience store worker. Help pick up someone’s dropped groceries. Spare some change for the homeless man across the street.  Performing acts of kindness is proven to bring high levels of self satisfaction and consequently, happiness. By involving yourself in your community and surroundings in such a way, the feeling of loneliness will be able to pass faster. 

  1. Meet new people

Being around the same people all the time can reinforce the same feelings of loneliness that you are working against. Therefore, exposing yourself to a new and diverse range of people can be a really positive experience with long term benefits. Explore new interests. Join clubs with people similar to you. There is no obligation to act in any particular manner or say certain things, so a lot of weight may be lifted off your shoulders. Not only will doing this reduce much social pressure, but build many long-lasting meaningful relationships.

Dealing with loneliness definitely isn’t easy, and most probably can’t happen overnight. You must remember to take it one step at a time, and understand that feeling upset or especially lonely once in a while is natural. Be patient and kind to yourself during this process, and give yourself permission to rest during this troubling time. Most importantly, do your best to be compassionate, to yourself and to others. 

Editor’s note: We cannot take this lightly, we can very easily underestimate how loneliness can impact our mental health. Please reach out and start building a trusted support network, click here to know how to ask for help.