Living through the last few months has highlighted how we live and work as well as throwing up a lot of financial challenges. One thing that has hit a lot of us more than usual is a feeling of loneliness, even more acute than it might have been before Covid-19. Some people choose to be alone and can live very happily without a lot of contact with other people. But loneliness can hit most of us sometimes, whether you’re young and feeling cut-off from your friends, in your middle years and lonely in your relationship, or an older person who’s lost their partner. Even if you have lots of friends or come from a big family, it’s still possible to feel real loneliness. It can have many different causes and affects all of us in different ways. Certain lifestyles and the stresses of life today can make people socially isolated and more vulnerable to loneliness. It can also have a big impact on your mental health, contributing to anxiety, stress and depression. Not feeling part of the world in which you live is part of a vicious circle where you then stop trying to maintain friendships and then feel excluded. Certain situations might also make you feel lonelier – if you have a relationship break-up or someone close to you dies, you can feel lonely within yourself for a long time. When you’re part of an ethnic group with few community networks or you’re a single parent finding it hard to go out, you can feel lonelier than ever before. People try different ways to avoid this inner loneliness including spending a lot of time socialising and thereby not having time to ponder on it too much, or they develop a dependency on drugs or alcohol to escape these feelings. So, how can you combat these feeling of loneliness? For some people it’s about making more social contact with other people, either friends or family. If you’re feeling ‘low’ this can take a lot of effort but if you don’t do so then you’re likely to end up more lonely and isolated than ever.
Take small steps at first:
- go for a short walk in the fresh air and try to say ‘hello’ if you see anyone from your road or who looks familiar to you.
- text someone in your family, just to see how they are.
- Now that restrictions are lifting (at the time of writing) if you’re in a group of people, try to make a few comments, even though it seems easier to keep quiet and let everyone else talk.
- try having a short talk with the cashier when you pay for goods in the shop. Even a little social contact helps a bit!
- if you have children, maybe you could make conversation with one or two other parents once school re-starts.
Another way of making connections with people is through shared interests, values or experiences. If something interests you, whether that’s walking, watching films or going camping, there will be other people who feel the same. There is usually information about local clubs or groups in the library or you can look online and these groups will hopefully re-start again soon. If, despite doing your best, you don’t manage to achieve the social contact you’d like, it may be worth learning how to feel more comfortable in your own company. This can be rewarding if you focus on the pleasure it gives you. Having time to reflect and think can be positive. Trying yoga or pilates can help to achieve a peace that frenetic socialising can’t. Getting a dog or cat is another way to alleviate loneliness, especially as they’re usually pleased to see you when you arrive home! Writing a blog helps to look at how you’re feeling and seeing your thoughts on paper can help you to look at how you might be able to improve things. You can see my blogs as soon as they are published (usually on Wednesdays) by pressing the ‘follow’ button and you can share them with your friends. You can also find me on Linked In, Instagram (samebutdifferent) and read my FB posts at Same But Different.