Dealing with Loneliness

          In our increasingly social world, I will admit I don’t personally think often about loneliness. I do find a lack on connection on the level of depth that is really satisfying for me at times, but for me personally privacy and maintaining my alone time is usually a greater concern. However, recently with the social-distancing and stay-at-home directives and the length of time we have been dealing with some degree of restrictions, I have felt a little lonely. Especially today,  I am missing a family gathering we usually have. Yes, I am keeping busy and have plans for a nice dinner of roast chicken, but it isn’t the same and I miss that connection with my family in person. I talked with my sister on the phone, but I miss hugging everyone and seeing their smiling faces in person.

        With clients, this is a complaint I am hearing often. Many people are feeling lonely and wanting a connection beyond what we can get virtually via the many electronic avenues we are so blessed to have available now. I really cannot imagine how we would be dealing with this if we did not have so much ability to connect virtually. Yet, there is something to be said for the connection we get with physical presence, sharing of activities, meals and in-person conversation, not to mention touch and hugs.

         Many people have found themselves slipping into anxiety, sadness and depression with this social-distancing we are facing to maintain our health and well-being and stay alive. The thought that this might be permanent and imagining that we will never get back to an acceptable version of normal that allows the comforts of touch, close physical proximity and hugs, without endangering our health weighs heavily on many and makes them feel more helpless and alone. 

         What can we do to feel better and less lonely? That is a difficult question, but one I think we can deal with, until once again we can enjoy each other’s company, maybe with some greater awareness and safety precautions. Though not as satisfying as in-person connections, virtual connections by phone, email, video (Zoom, Facetime, etc.) are so important and can be fun and enjoyable. Keeping busy and getting things done to sustain yourself now and in preparation for the future will also make you feel less lonely. Finish those projects you never had time for. Do things that you will thank yourself for later, like learning something new, taking care of yourself, treating yourself to things you don’t normally allow yourself time for, doing things that make you smile or laugh. You have to be your own best friend. Treat yourself like you would someone you genuinely care about. Be kind and compassionate to yourself. Laugh and smile as much as you can and be good company to yourself. It doesn’t feel good, even to yourself to be in a bad mood, grumpy or disgruntled. Your mood and attitude will actually change your brain and physiology, as well as, strengthening your immune system, resilience and your resourcefulness. Eat well, exercise, get outside even if you can’t go anywhere except your own front or back yard. The better care you take of yourself, the better you will feel.

          Use your imagination to your best benefit! If you are worrying, you are imagining something undesirable that has not happened yet, is going to happen. Switch that up and imagine something better. Imagine something good is going to happen. Even better, imagine the best possible scenario that you would like to happen. Why not? As long as you are imagining, imagine something that is exactly what you want, in fact, is going to happen. I promise the effects will be much better for your health and well-being and you won’t regret it, no matter what actually happens.

        Finally and simply, be grateful for what you have right now, whatever that might be. Be grateful you are safe and alive. Be grateful if you have a pet or a partner to share this experience with. Be grateful if you have family or friends to communicate with virtually and people who check in on you and make sure you are doing okay. And, if you don’t have that, reach out and let someone know, so they can reach back and be there for you! That is actually a gift, as we all need as much to give as to receive.

        Remember that in actuality you are not alone! We are all connected and we are all experiencing this and being impacted in so many ways. Talk about your feelings, write them down if needed. Expressing them will help! This is not to complain, but to express this experience, feel the feelings and then let them go! You are not alone, we are all “walking together”, if only virtually at this point!

       Now that many are vaccinated and we are able to get back to some socializing and our world is slowly opening back up, make those in-person connections, but do so in a safe and conscious way so we can keep expanding our connections and get back to more normal social interactions we have learned are so precious and important!

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