Photo by Meghan Hessler from Unsplash
Loneliness usually strikes during distressing times of your life like abruptly moving to a new neighborhood, having trouble fitting in at work, or arguing with your significant other. This feeling of isolation also occurs even on common, regular days, and it affects people in many different ways. Since the onset of the pandemic, many of us have felt isolated from our families and strangers.
For some reason, we still feel lonely even if we’re with the company of our friends. This isn’t because we’re ungrateful but simply we are human. As humans, we are subject to millions of fickle emotions flashing towards and away from us instantaneously. For the most part, we don’t even understand why. Surprisingly, a lot of people are incapable of coping with loneliness responsibly and healthily.
Although there is no universal or right way to deal with loneliness, there are a few ways to help you quickly get back on your feet. Addictive substances and vices like alcohol, smoking, and drugs are the opposite of dealing with loneliness. Indulging into these temporary pleasures is only a means of escape and avoidance. You are not addressing the root issue of the problem here.
If you continue to go down this harmful route, you’re going to face the consequences of your irresponsible actions which will greatly affect those around you in the long run. We feel guilty for feeling lonely even when we shouldn’t be. The truth is, nobody will understand precisely the way you’re feeling, but you don’t need to ask validation from them anyway.
Let go of the guilt that captivates you to keep all your emotion to yourself. Instead, share your feelings on loneliness and talk about what’s making you feel sad and uncomfortable lately. Channel your inner thoughts and feelings through different avenues of emotional expression, may it be creatively or in a support session group.
BEING ALONE VS. FEELING LONELY
Being alone isn’t the same as being lonely. Just because you’re alone in a mall, that doesn’t mean you require friends or you feel rejected from your social group. A lot of stigma circles around the idea of someone doing things alone like how you’re unlikeable or socially anxious when you’re not with friends. Being alone is better than being lonely in a large crowd. When you’re alone, you control your time and intention. You don’t rely on the plans or time of other people.
You’re solely responsible for your sanity. You don’t have to fit in and adapt to other people’s version of fun. You need to find happiness in being alone. Otherwise, when you’re with people who make you feel invisible and useless, you’re constantly fighting for your place in that circle. Every move you make is meticulously analyzed by you to check if it’s worthy to be approved by your so-called friends.
In your twenties, you will most likely be affiliated with large groups that you don’t necessarily like being in. You may find it fun to be with one or two individuals from that group but you don’t trust the rest. You don’t enjoy your relationship and treatment with them. Loneliness in friendships is hard and frustrating because you’re burdened with the constant need to please them even if you don’t want to.
LONELINESS AMIDST THE PANDEMIC
One of the toughest struggles the pandemic has brought is not being able to interact with people freely. Almost every country from around the world went on lockdown for months, and this has prevented us from being with family and loved ones. There’s no way we can physically be with other people besides the ones we’re stuck with at home.
The fear of not being with our friends and colleagues is so great that it has brought most of us to loneliness, anxiety, and even depression. The pandemic has ruined our lives in varying degrees, but witnessing the hardships other people go through make us feel even lonelier. When all you hear in the news is death and tragedy, the more likely you are to drown in your fears.
Even when it’s hard, you need to find a good enough reason to hold on. Everyone’s dealing with the psychological effects of the coronavirus pandemic, so you’re not alone. You have to remember what makes you happy and whom you want to share that happiness with. When you get your purpose back, hold onto that thought and draw strength from that. When you feel like giving up, remember what you’re meant to do and how far you’ve come.
11 SIMPLE WAYS TO DEAL WITH LONELINESS IN A PANDEMIC:
TAKE ALL THE TIME YOU NEED
You don’t need to rush the process of your healing. It’s okay to do nothing. You don’t have to force yourself to shift feelings. Don’t let people dictate how long you should permit yourself to feel sad and lonely. People grieve and deal with loneliness in different ways. They have no idea what exactly you’re going through.
However, you also need to help yourself get through this feeling by keeping your head high. Remember to draw boundaries and set new goals to bounce back from. You are not your struggle, so don’t let it define you. During the state of loneliness, your voice is the most crucial. It shouldn’t be bringing you down even further so be very careful with what you tell your mind. Fuel it with positivity and hope.
FIND A HEALTHY DISTRACTION
It’s normal to feel lonely at times when we’re alone, so a healthy distraction is always an awesome option. Whenever you feel lonely, you can always find a new hobby to keep you busy. Loneliness can open new opportunities for us; it can be a tool to discover ourselves even more. Developing a long overdue skill can be a great way to bring back love for older passions.
You can engage in activities that will help you find what you love. Having time to focus on ourselves is an effective route to further self-discovery. Your hobbies can also help you find solitude and peace with yourself. Remember to engage in activities that interest you, and not because of societal pressure.
If you choose to do hobbies with others, be careful to not be tied with people who are in the same state of mind as you at the moment. When we’re lonely, you may think it would be nice to find someone like-minded and who can relate to your pain and suffering but most times, they can do more harm than good.
LET MUSIC BE YOUR BEST FRIEND
No matter what you’re going through, music is the only thing you can count on. Sometimes, listening to its melody and understanding the lyrics of a song is the therapy you need. You can experiment with your taste in music however you please and listen to it any time of the day. Let music be your best friend in your darkest times. It can be the best comforter you can find. Feel free to write down the feelings which are evoked by music. Maybe these can be pleasant memories from your childhood or from your significant other which can lead you to a breakthrough.
OPEN UP TO SOMEONE WHO WILL LISTEN TO YOU
When you’re feeling lonely, you need someone who can notice when you’re wearing a fake smile or a real one. Connect with people you can trust. You can also ask for support from friends and communities online. Sometimes, when people open up to others, it’s because they have bottled up all of their emotions inside them to the point where no words come out anymore but pure tears.
They are on the precipice of a meltdown. And they are desperate to need another human to be there during a time when she’s all over the place— and to some extremes, even the people they don’t like. Sometimes the feeling is too strong that it doesn’t matter if you don’t know what to do afterward; letting it out is enough for the day. That eye-opening feeling of getting that burden off your shoulder— we all need someone.
EXPRESS YOUR FEELINGS CREATIVELY
It’s difficult to share your feelings when you can’t explain them verbally. Sometimes when you get emotionally overwhelmed, you can’t fathom the intensity of your feelings and when you can’t control them, they just get all over the place. If you choose to contain your bottled-up emotions, prepare for the worst consequences. No one’s going to judge you if you choose to express your feelings in a very different way (as long as you don’t hurt anyone in the process). You can use art as an outlet to express your emotions. You can write a song by yourself or with your friends. This way, you may get the chance to discover a passion of yours.
RECONNECT WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY
Put in mind that loneliness is a normal part of human experience. Reconnecting with friends and family can help you feel comfortable with talking about your deepest fears because the trust is already there. Moreover, you would also inspire others to talk about their loneliness as well. Be with the people who make you want to live again. Spend more time with your offline friends.
We all need face-to-face interactions to strengthen our ties. Take the initiative to make fun agenda indoors with your peers. It may feel terrifying to start talking about loneliness at first, but once you muster the courage to open up to your friends, you start letting go of some of that burden in your chest.
When you’re honest with what you’re feeling, you show your vulnerability to them and turn it into a new start for discussion rather than a taboo. Our feelings of loneliness can bring us closer to one another and openly talking about it wouldn’t feel as daunting as before anymore.
JOIN AN ONLINE COMMUNITY FOR SUPPORT
Loneliness comes to everyone at a certain point regardless of social and economic status. Believe it or not, there are real people roughly going through the same thing as you. Loneliness is rampant in today’s society, and many are looking for people to talk and connect with. By joining in online groups, not only are you engaging yourself with others, you are also helping people deal with their loneliness.
You can build a connection with these people and arrange a schedule as to when you talk. Be careful with what you watch on social media. It may worsen the loneliness you’re feeling because it triggers anxiety, F.O.M.O., cyberbullying, etc. In social media, you see strangers enjoying their best lives traveling to wherever while you’re at home doing the same things over and over again.
It makes you feel left out and lonelier as you feel disconnected from the trends and people in general. Use social media to build your self-esteem, not tear it apart by fueling your insecurities. Social media also has its advantages, but be very careful navigating the good from the bad especially when you’re not in the best mental and emotional state.
When you feel lonely, pamper yourself with the beautiful things in life. Spoiling yourself with your hard-earned money can remind you of the good things and perks of working hard. You can do what you find enjoyable like spicing up your daily routine. You don’t have to be too strict with yourself all the time. There is a time for working and time for resting. The loneliness you feel may be a cause of depriving yourself from rest and relaxation. Learn to find balance between these two forms of productivity. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a little bit of luxury especially if you’ve earned it.
PRAY TO GOD
Ask help from God to give you peace of mind. Offer to Him your worries. Never underestimate the real power of prayer. No matter what other people say, prayer is still the most powerful weapon. If you don’t see anyone you trust to open up to, there is always Someone above who knows everything— including the answers to your worries. You don’t have to be religious or a die-hard devotee to pray. All you need to do is to open your heart to the presence of God and let Him through you. Talk to Him about your inhibitions and fears. Be humble enough to admit that you can’t do it alone and you need a Higher Being to guide you through the way.
GET OFF GADGETS
Relieve yourself from the toxic effects of social media. If scrolling through Instagram is making you lonelier, it could be a sign that any negative feeling inside you is worsened by what’s exposed to you online. Limit your social media use to obtaining factual information like timely news. Refrain from sharing your inhibitions and problems on the web. You can’t attract any sympathy there but false love. People only care about your problems enough to use them against you and nothing more. Your true friends will personally come to see you. Protect your privacy and dignity. Not everyone deserves to know your business.
Sometimes, all you need is a walk outside your home and have a taste of fresh air. Seeing other people living their lives makes you realize they’re dealing with their problems in life too and that you’re not alone. You get to witness first-hand how nature plays a part in your everyday life.
You understand that there are countless, extraordinary places and experiences that you still haven’t tried in life. Then you realize staying in your room and sulking about your situation will make you miss out more. You are only a small yet significant part of the universe, and like everything else, you are constantly transforming into what you’re destined to become.
Loneliness is a real thing; it’s a widespread global issue that’s deteriorating people’s mental health especially since this pandemic. Deepen your self-understanding about loneliness by normalizing discussions about the struggle and healing process. Keep talking about it, so other people won’t feel afraid or ashamed to come forward about it. During a timely crisis like this, we need everyone’s cooperation and empathy to overrule any selfish desire.
There are many ways to alleviate stress and depression due to periodical feelings of loneliness. Never contain yourself in a box where no one can hear you and help you. Change your environment for a start. Clean your home. Cut off ties from people who only care about you relatively on the surface. Don’t stop looking for ways to help yourself, even if it means sacrificing some of your relationships and work commitments.
When symptoms get worse, keep in mind that you can always talk to a professional. Many people are ready and willing to help you in any way they can. Don’t listen to the stigma circulating asking for professional help; think about your health and well-being first and foremost. Mental health is real and it matters. I don’t know how long it takes for you to feel better or if things are ever going to go back to how they used to, but remember that you will get through this.
“A man can be himself only so long as he is alone; and if he does not love solitude, he will not love freedom; for it is only when he is alone that he is truly free.”Arthur Schopenhauer