By: Leah Hovey
There has been quite a bit of change that has happened within our world and now more than ever we are seeing the effects of loneliness. Let’s focus on how to manage loneliness when you’re isolated intentionally.
Remember that loneliness is just a feeling.
It can be very easy to get caught up in how alone you are when you have limited communication due to circumstances. Malani and colleagues (2019) suggest that the self-narrative (the story you tell yourself about an experience) is typically more focused on the emotional experience rather than the reality of the situation (Rubin, et al., 2019). For example, maybe you are alone at home while you see your friends out doing separate activities. Your self-narrative may cultivate a story that says “they don’t want to be around me”, when in reality they all had prior engagements. Loneliness can manipulate our mental health and cloud our mind with false narratives. One must remember that if you are isolated, overthinking the situation will make it worse.
Just because you are physically alone, it does not mean you are socially alone.
There may be specific times where you may not be able to see your friends, family or loved ones, however you still can communicate with them! Thanks to our technological advancements we can easily connect with our loved ones at any time! Use social media to keep up on everyone's day-to-day lives, call your family, text your friends or have a skype date. With Facetime, interactive online communities, games and social media there are great ways to keep in touch with the people around you. Think of it this way… maybe you cannot go visit your friend for coffee as you both live in different cities but you can schedule a virtual coffee date through Facetime! You would still be doing the same things (i.e drinking coffee and chatting) in person, the only difference is the phone!
Use this opportunity to create something or further your knowledge of your passions.
Have you ever wanted to read a book series, master a new skill, improve your cooking or learn something new? Well, now is the perfect opportunity to do so! Having to stay home or away from others is the perfect opportunity to focus on yourself. Unlock your mind creatively and plan to learn or work on a project each day! This could be anything from reading to knitting, drawing or learning a new language online. I am sure at some point we have all said “Jeez I would love to try this, but I do not have enough time!” Well, this is it! Now is the time to get creative and attempt some of those activities you have been putting off.
Try to spend some time in the fresh air.
It has been proven that the effects of fresh air and the outdoors can significantly impact your mental health. As research has indicated, “The production of mental health benefits from nature experience may occur through multiple psychological causal mechanisms and pathways, including reduction of stress, increases in social cohesion or physical activity, or replenishment of cognitive capacities, to name just a few” (Bratman, et al., 2019). Taking walks in the sun, wrapping yourself up in the nature around you and resetting your mind will help with those depressive, isolating thoughts. Even if you cannot go for a walk or be outside for a long period of time, just spending a couple minutes outside of your house, apartment or opening a window to let in some fresh air will help.
Having to deal with loneliness is challenging and can severely impact your mental health. However, using these various techniques to push through the isolation can make the time you do have to spend alone a little bit easier.
Bratman, G. N., Anderson, C. B., Berman, M. G., Cochran, B., De Vries, S., Flanders, J., ... & Kahn, P. H. (2019). Nature and mental health: An ecosystem service perspective. Science advances, 5(7), eaax0903.
De Pass, T. (2019, July 30). Retrieved from https://www.consciouscounselling.co/post/ways-to-combat-feelings-of-loneliness
Malani, P., Solway, E., Kirch, M., Singer, D., & Kullgren, J. (2019). Loneliness and Health.
Rubin, D. C., Berntsen, D., Deffler, S. A., & Brodar, K. (2019). Self-narrative focus in autobiographical events: The effect of time, emotion, and individual differences. Memory & cognition, 47(1), 63-75.