Loneliness is a painful, negative feeling that begins when a person’s emotional needs are not met by their relationships. There are strategies you can use to help prevent loneliness, even in the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) circumstances.
Loneliness can happen even when someone is surrounded by others but not getting the kind of company, connections and support that they need. Many people believe loneliness as just a social issue, but it also has an impact on wellbeing, physical and mental health. If a person feels that they don’t have meaningful relationships or enough social contact, it can lead to anxiety and worry, and a sense of being alone and unsupported in the world.
With the current government requirement for social distancing and people are feeling loneliness more than usual. While these requirements are limiting opportunities for face-to-face socialising, the following tips can help you to prevent or overcome feelings of loneliness and feel more connected.
1. Stop negative thoughts and beliefs
It’s important to identify negative thoughts about yourself and your circumstances. Negative thoughts can lead to self-blame and feelings of inadequacy, especially during social isolation.
Try not to compare your life with others, or with what your life was usually like, in the time before COVID-19, as it could make you feel disheartened. Positive thinking can be empowering. Understand your thoughts and use your mind to set some personal goals.
2. Recognise your mood
Recognise when you’re feeling low and pay attention to it. It’s normal to feel strong emotions as a result of or in the current COVID-19 situation. You may feel low from changes to your everyday freedom and lifestyle or business and financial losses. It’s important to be aware of your anxieties, fears and worries about your health and the health of people around you.
If you experience low moods, you can start withdrawing from others, which can then increase your isolation and loneliness. If the sad and anxious feelings you’re experiencing persist or increase, it’s important to get professional help. Recognise the difference between being alone and being lonely. While some people can feel lonely even when with others or in a crowd, others are content with their own company.
3. Keep in contact
Try to increase the contact you have with family, friends and colleagues on phone or video. We know it’s important to exercise for your physical health, it’s also important to keep up activities that are good for your mental health. You can still keep in contact with friends, colleagues and family through digital channels. For example, you could have a virtual coffee date, dinner party or play games online with friends. Video-call family members, send text messages or post letters to people from other states and territories. Even try talking to your neighbours from across the fence, driveway or street.
4. Remember what you can control
Think about what’s in your control and take charge of that. Changes in your routine can make you feel confused and anxious, remember that other people are in similar situations. Knowing that you are not alone can help to provide a sense of normalcy and the ability to make meaning of what’s happening. You can also plan and manage those things that are within your control. For example, you can control what you eat and drink, your physical activity and level of engagement with others.
5. Recognise what makes you happy and practise good self-care
Spend this increased downtime doing things that you enjoy and investing in self-care. It’s a good opportunity to learn more about yourself and to go on an inner journey to explore how you feel and think. Plan a variety of activities to do on your own, or with others online. This is a good time for taking up a new hobby or breaking unhealthy habits and forming new positive ones.
6. Think of the positive things
Think of some advantages of the current situation and social distancing. Spending more time alone give time for self-reflection and strengthening of your relationships. It’s important to focus on the important things in life.
Einstein said that “adversity introduces a man to himself”. Use the COVID-19 period to your advantage and “introduce you to yourself”. Learn to understand yourself better:
- explore how you think and feel
- grow your strengths
- practice self-discipline
- valuing your relationships – with yourself, as well as with your family, friends and colleagues.
If you feel that things are too difficult to manage on your own, or you would like support, reach out to a family member, friend or other acquaintance.
We’re here to help you during these times, counselling is an opportunity to speak with a professionally trained counsellor to identify, understand and gain new perspectives on issues that are causing concern.
Book into Individual Counselling online or over the phone.