Loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is the richness of self.
I recently finished the book, “Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World” by Vivek Murthy. This global pandemic has definitely left most of us with a new level of loneliness in our lives. I personally noticed this in my own life when I started feeling excited to leave the house for a recent doctor visit, which is not something I generally look forward to, but usually just something that needs to get done. But, this lack of normal connection in all of our lives, from talking to a stranger in line at the grocery store to visits with your girlfriends, are probably interactions that are few and far between right now.
So, what can we do about this heightened level of loneliness and disconnection in our lives today? First, try to figure out what triggers these feelings of loneliness in your own life. Your list may include:
- The global pandemic with its social distancing and the wearing of masks may be keeping you from being able to connect with those around you.
- Few (in any) social gatherings can leave you feeling disconnected from friends and neighbors.
- Restricting travel may leave you feeling emotionally disconnected from family and friends living afar.
- Working from home can leave you feeling disconnected from your coworkers (as well as very out of sync with your normal work routine).
- Virtual school can leave you feeling distanced from your mom friends at your kids’ in person school.
- Too much togetherness with family at home can lead to more arguments and feeling emotionally disconnected from one another.
- So many cancelled community events can bring up feelings of loss, but also feelings of disconnect from missing out on the collective fun of concerts, community block parties, sporting events, movies, plays, etc.
- Normal life transitions such as moving can bring up feelings of grief, and may also trigger feelings of loneliness when you leave one place when you feel known and start over in a new place where you don’t feel like anyone truly knows you (yet!).
Once you know some of your own personal loneliness triggers, what should you do with this information? Next, try to figure out some creative ways to add more connection with others into your life, given the present day parameters, of course! Things such as…
- Figure out what you are and are not comfortable doing in person such as eating out at a restaurant to socially distancing at a neighbor’s backyard party.
- Create collective family fun inside your home such as movie night, puzzle time, game days, etc.
- Stop and talk to people when you’re outside, while still social distancing.
- Create virtual fun, be that online game nights, virtual happy hours with your girlfriends or Zoom book club meetings.
- Thank the frontline workers for their service.
- Connect with the staff at your scheduled appointments.
- Respond to the bids for connection from your kids’ teachers. I finished my “mom homework,” did you?
- Continue your normal texts, phone calls and face time sessions with friends and family near and far.
How do you feel about taking all of this a step further? The following are some ways to reconnect with yourself during this time of disconnection and distancing from others:
- Talk about your feelings of loneliness with a therapist.
- Write it all down- journaling is a great place to process your feelings about journaling.
- Find time to do something you love such as watch your new favorite Netflix show.
- Do some research of your own on loneliness- find out more about this topic online, in books, on podcasts, etc.
- Create time to sit with your feelings of loneliness and allow yourself the space to really feel these feelings.
- Prioritize your self-care by eating a healthy diet, drinking enough water, getting the right amount of sleep for your body, etc.
- Go outside and focus on the natural beauty all around you.
- Go for a walk to clear your mind and get some exercise.
- Work on mindfulness and concentrate on your five senses to help ground you in this moment.
- Focus on gratitude and all the things in your life that you’re truly grateful for right now.
Loneliness is a huge part of this pandemic. The distance and emotional disconnect from others has been hard across the board in all areas of our lives. If you or someone you know is feeling sad and lonely, please reach out for help and support so you don’t continue to feel so alone during these prolonged, difficult times.