Time alone is necessary for our mental well being. When we spend time by ourselves we are able to rest from the stresses and strains of everyday life, give ourselves the mental space to process our thoughts and then re engage with others in a more relaxed way afterwards.
However, during the pandemic many of us are spending more and more time alone and the number of people experiencing loneliness has risen dramatically. And it’s totally understandable.
Many of us are now working from home and missing face to face time with colleagues. Natural moments in the day we take for granted aren’t currently happening: times such as “water cooler chats”, having lunch breaks and laughs with work friends and catch up chats at the beginning and end of meetings.
As more of us need to self-isolate pressure is placed on increasingly anxious homes. Parents who are self-isolating, especially single parents, are finding it tough. There are no face to face opportunities to talk with adults during the day and we can begin to feel cut off from others and miss adult conversation.
A short period of loneliness can be managed but there is a tipping point at which the amount of time we spend alone begins to become unhealthy. A prolonged period of loneliness can lead to lack of self worth and esteem, lack of energy and apathy in daily tasks, reliance on technology for all forms of communication and depression. So it’s important to be aware of how we are feeling and to reach out for support if necessary.
Once we realise we are feeling lonely and it’s becoming uncomfortable it’s important to take action before it affects our mental health.
Here are some ways to tackle loneliness:
- Get up, get fully dressed. Not just in lounge wear but dress as if you were heading outside for a purpose.
- Find one thing to do each day which requires you to leave the house and feel more connected to the world outside
- Find someone to talk with, maybe reconnect with people you haven’t been in contact with for a while, make a phone or video call to someone every day
- Start a journal to get your thoughts and feelings out of your head to stop recurring negative thoughts
- Get distracted: immerse yourself in a box set, comedy series or good book
- Arrange a socially distanced walk or bike ride with a friend or family member outside your bubble
- Spend some time day dreaming about what life will be like next summer when the weather is better and we’ll be able to go to more places and meet people more easily
- Play your favourite uplifting music, and have an impromptu crazy dance whilst no one’s watching
- Shop locally so that you can meet and speak with people, even if it’s just the shop staff
- If you are finding your relationship intense or difficult book an initial session at Relate or find a couples counsellor to help you work out ways to communicate better in this difficult time
- If you are recovering from a breakup be gentle on yourself and give yourself permission to recover
- Spend quality time with a pet and/or children or hug a cuddly toy as a comfort
- Take up a new hobby, language or course which will give you a new focus and where you may meet like minded people
It can be challenging to engage with others when a part of us doesn’t feel like it but remember we only need one person to talk with to reduce our loneliness. So start with a smile and a hello and see what happens……