Being alone and feeling lonely
Here we are, half-way through 2020 and with no certainty about how long we will have to live restricted lives due to the coronavirus pandemic. We are having to adjust to new conditions almost daily and we are slowly coming to terms with having almost no social life, no avenues for entertainment outside the house and reduced contact with work colleagues, family and friends. We know how hard it is to generate positive vibes and find self motivation when the world seems so topsy-turvy.
These are not good conditions to be living in. It’s not really living, it’s just existing. Whatever the ‘new normal’ is going to be post-COVID we are not there yet. There is an inevitable rise in people experiencing poor mental health under these trying circumstances. Mental health services such as Beyond Blue have reported a spike in calls for help and there is also a disturbing increase in self-harming activity in vulnerable groups. It is very important that you seek professional help immediately if you are in this category. You can contact Lifeline here.
Are you lonely or just alone?
Psychologists make an important distinction between the two states and loneliness is by far the more distressing condition. Being alone is a physical state of separation from other people, while loneliness is characterised by feelings of distress and inability to make meaningful social connections with anyone. A second characteristic of loneliness is that a lonely-feeling person does have social contact it is unsatisfying. Loneliness occurs when our social resilience is low, but a person can be happy alone if they are resilient.
Loneliness is defined as a feeling of sadness or anxiety arising from isolation or the perception of being abandoned. Lonely is the feeling you get when you are longing for a partner or friend to go to a party with. Being alone is just being by yourself at a particular moment in time. If you are feeling lonely, our best advice is to reach out to a professional counselling service, but you can also do a few small things for yourself. The FEEL Collaborative Coping With Loneliness Survival Guide has some good tips and links to resources.
If you are able to provide some self-care and manage your own mental health in the face of the ongoing difficulties, you will be in a better position to resume an active and social life once this period is over. We think everyone can probably use a little help at this time and we have produced a FEEL Collaborative Coping With Loneliness Survival Guide to provide support and inspiration for women who want to maintain their connectedness.
If you are able to provide some self-care and manage your own mental health in the face of the ongoing difficulties, you will be in a better position to resume an active and social life once this period is over. We think everyone can probably use a little help at this time and we have produced a FEEL Collaborative Loneliness Survival Guide to provide support and inspiration for women who want to maintain their connectedness.
Inspiration for women seeking reconnection
Whether you’re experiencing loneliness or just having trouble adjusting to being alone for long periods of time, there are some simple and inspiring things that you can do to help identify and then alleviate some of the anxiety. We hope that our words provide some motivation and inspiration for women to help them get through these difficult days and weeks.
It’s okay to feel anxious and you should not feel any shame in telling people that you’re struggling at the moment. Loneliness doesn’t go away if we ignore it, it will only get worse and if you’re alone but not really coping, you have to get on top of it before the anxiety paralyses you and you can’t deal with it. Loneliness is a widespread issue, but like many mental health issues there is a stigma attached to disclosure. Reaching out is the best way to start your recovery from loneliness.
Are you really alone? Take a simple audit of the people you know and then make a note about which of them you would feel most comfortable disclosing your feelings to. Even though you might be feeling lonely and unable to reach out, if you can make the effort to talk to one person on your list you are likely to be surprised how willing they are to provide support.
How are you experiencing loneliness or being alone? We can all have different experiences of loneliness and being alone. Ask yourself about your own experiences. Are you really lonely, or are you just alone and a bit bored?
It’s okay to slow down and catch your breath. Sometimes we can be incredibly lonely while seemingly run off our feet with work or other forms of business. Check out our FEEL Collaborative Survival Guides, tip sheets and Tools to get understand how relaxed and mindful breathing can help you cope with change.
Reconnect with self-care and self-love. A large part of coping with anxiety, loneliness and boredom is to find the space to get back in touch with yourself emotionally and physically. Sometimes it can be as simple as a walk in the fresh air and taking particular note of the birdlife you encounter. FEEL Collaborative’s mindful meditation technique and tips for self-care can provide some useful information to help you to reconnect and take better care of yourself.
Be kind to others to reap kindness in return. You might be surprised how many of your acquaintances, family members and friends are feeling just like you right now. Reaching out to people – to ask how they’re doing – is a great way to maintain connections. You don’t have to start the conversation with your own problems, but feel free to share if you’re asked to. Put your focus on the wellbeing of family and friends and let the good karma come to you.
Find connections where you can, even online. While it is impossible to catch up physically with friends during the COVID lockdowns you can still meet virtually for a coffee, a meal or to exercise together. Checkout all the free apps that facilitate videoconference calls. Even a simple text message or email is a start to reconnecting.
Find small and simple things to do that give you satisfaction. Now is a good time to work on that list of small jobs around the home or to pick up a sketch pad, knitting needles or a ukele.
Take the small steps towards rebuilding a positive vibe in your life. Making the first move towards someone can seem daunting, but you are likely to be met with a positive response, so our final bit of motivational advice is “just show up”. Be open to reaching out to people and be self motivated.
Which is worth more, a crowd of thousands, or your own genuine solitude? Freedom, or power over an entire nation. A little while alone in your room will prove more valuable than anything else that could ever be given you Jalaluddin Rumi