The lockdown, weeks of isolation, and the lack of human interaction have made people fall prey to loneliness. The question of how to deal with loneliness was already a cause of concern for many, but the current situation has made loneliness all the more difficult to deal with.
Even though the restrictions are being lifted and cities are starting to function fully, the idea of things not being the same is provoking negative feelings in people. With social distancing being the new norm, spontaneous plans and casual hanging out with friends can seem impossible and people increasingly feel alone. This becomes abundantly clear when you look at the questions posted on mental health forums like “how to overcome loneliness?”, “what to do when you feel lonely?”, “how to deal with loneliness?”, or the plaintive cry for help – “Please help, I feel lonely”!
As loneliness strikes millions amid the lockdown, it makes it arduous for people living alone to deal with it. Loneliness can interrupt your daily life and may even pave the way for more severe mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Therefore, it is extremely important that you find ways of coping with it and managing it. We’re going to do our best to tell you what to do when you feel lonely and help you understand how to overcome loneliness.
What Exactly Is Loneliness?
Loneliness is an extremely complex mental and emotional phenomenon and has been defined in many ways. The most common definition says, “It’s a state of solitude or being alone”. However, this common definition can be slightly misleading as it remains quite unclear. State of solitude or being alone doesn’t necessarily mean being physically alone, or not having someone right next to you. It’s more complicated than that. It’s the perception of being alone and isolated, and the inability to find the meaning of life. It’s a state of mind, it’s an emotion not a physical attribute . This is why you will still hear people who live with their families say “I feel alone”.
A person can be hit by this feeling anytime, anywhere. It could embrace them when they’re in their room or pat on the back when they are around the people they love. There’s absolutely no certainty or a way to predict when a person may feel lonely.
Coping With Loneliness
Managing or coping with loneliness can be a challenge. It can be tough, especially when people around you don’t understand you, but it is important that you build your strength and learn how to overcome loneliness.
However, before looking for solutions, you must try and get to the root cause of your feelings. As we said earlier, loneliness is often mistaken to be to a state where a person is physically alone, but that’s not the case. It’s a feeling, which is why most people say “I feel alone”, rather than “I am alone”. Loneliness is an emotional state where one feels they lack companionship even when they are around their friends and family. Therefore, it is important that you evaluate your emotions to get to the core and rectify if your condition is chronic or not.
The following are a few coping strategies that studies show to be effective in dealing with loneliness. However, just like how one size doesn’t fit all, you may have to try different approaches to understand how to deal with loneliness. You need to identify what suits you best and use that as your escape vent. It may take some time, so don’t give up if the first option doesn’t work for you.
Do More Of What Makes You Happy: Even if you feel a bit lonely, it can be really easy to wallow in it. If you put on emotional songs or lock yourself up in a room, it’ll only make things worse for you. Instead, try the opposite for once. Try sitting with your parents, calling a friend, or playing with your pet. You can also do what you enjoy doing solo, be it dancing, working out, going for a run/jog, or playing video games. Do what brings you joy. It’ll make time go faster and will make you feel fulfilled .
Connect In Real Life: We know, virtual reality is the new reality, and that connecting virtually is easier, and requires less time and effort. But meeting and talking in-person can decrease the magnitude of loneliness that you feel. It may be difficult, but try stepping out once in a while and meet a friend. Avoid group meets initially if you feel. Meet one friend at a time, but do it. You may not want to share your feelings just yet, but just being in the presence of someone close and talking to them does help .
Try Meeting New People: If you cannot get over the thought that no one is there for you (even though there are) it’s okay! It’s never too late to make new friends. Try meeting new people. Volunteer somewhere, become a part of a book club or something of your interest, join a dance class maybe. Just try to get out of your cozy room and interact with people .
Take Advantage Of The Time You’re Alone: If you’re struggling to find out how to overcome loneliness, stop struggling and do something else instead. Find a way to utilize this time and divert yourself. Pursue a hobby, learn a new skill, get into a good book, or maybe spend time planning your future. When you feel lonely, it’s easy to get caught up in how sad and unfruitful the present is, but thinking, planning, and working for what lies ahead can give you hope and something positive to focus on .
Express: This is, perhaps, the toughest thing to do by far, but it can be the most effective. Express yourself. Try talking to your close friends, parents, siblings, neighbors, or anyone who you think you can find solace in. This does not have to be a quick thing, you can take your time to open up.
If you are still finding it difficult to speak up, try writing your thoughts down. It gives more clarity on what’s in your mind and then you can rectify if it’s all right or your mind’s just playing tricks on you. You could even try online forums where you can vent and express anonymously. That way no one will know you, and the weight off your chest will be lifted. And who knows, you might even find new friends .
Dwell Into Spirituality: Spirituality has always been associated with God and his teaching, but it is so much more than that. It goes far beyond worshiping a deity and following their teachings. It helps you find and understand the meaning of life. Though it is closely related to religion, it doesn’t depend on it. You need not be religious to practice spirituality.
Practicing spirituality will help you look within yourself and understand yourself better, which in turn can help you get to the core and deal with your negative emotions. Perhaps the best part of spirituality is it isn’t as complicated and difficult as practicing religion. You can do it by meditating, being more grateful for the good things you have, showing more gratitude, and simply taking care of yourself.
Be Open To Therapy: If nothing seems to help, consider going to therapy. Even if you question other values of therapy, it can be helpful for you when you feel lonely simply because you’re being heard and valued. And once you build your trust in your therapist and the entire process, they can truly help you .
Loneliness can be all-consuming and it can make you feel like this is the life you’ll have to live forever. But luckily, it doesn’t last forever. And it’s not your fault that you feel the way you do. So, stop blaming yourself and gather all the strength you have and put in doing things that can help you get out of it. Also, be patient. It takes time but it happens, loneliness does go away!