Overcoming loneliness

Overcoming Loneliness In A Pandemic

Let’s face it, this pandemic has dampened our social lives.

Is it just me, or are the days just blending together? It seems that all we have at the moment is work and home, home and work. And it feels so polarising. We have to suffer from finding connections through the virtual world, with our friends and family. And when we do meet up in real life, it doesn’t feel so connected. The handshake has given way to the elbow or sometimes just a wave.

It’s a super boring world.

But we can’t continue to mope around, saddened by all this. It’s a shit time, don’t get me wrong, but there’s more to life than worrying and getting downhearted. We must find ways of belonging to the world. And the first step in belonging is learning to enjoy our own company.

You live with yourself 24/7, and if you can’t learn to love yourself and all your imperfections, then it’s going to be a hellish time. So be you’re own best friend. When you’ve got time to yourself, away from work and all your daily responsibilities, explore yourself. Find out what you love and what brings you comfort in this terrible world we live in.

When your best friend is down, what do you do? Do you roll your eyes or do you sit with them? Perhaps you’ll call them up and say, Hey bitch, we’re going to go out for a picnic! I’ll be there in 10. And that’s what you should do with you!

That is essentially what self-care entails. It’s not just going to the gym and eating healthy, or practising mindfulness. Self-care is even sitting with yourself when you’re down and helping you through the hard times.

For me, if I’ve had a shit day at work and need some “me time”, I’ll go play a game. It’s what I love to do. Or sometimes I’ll cover my ears with headphones and go out for a walk. Or, yes, sometimes after an extremely crappy day, I’ll crack open a bottle of wine.

Not all of them are everyday things, of course. I can’t play games every day, that would be silly. And like most medicines, I’ll get used to it and it won’t be as effective. Or it could lead to more harm than good, like alcohol. So you need to build on your comforts so you have a smorgasbord of remedies to choose from. Then you can find the one that will work on any particular day.

What weird remedies do you enjoy? Pop them in the comments below!

Something as simple as checking up on your friends is a great way to boost your good deed count. Instead of endlessly scrolling your Facebook feed, you could whizz over to Messenger and see who’s online. The act of a good deed builds on your personal values and it connects you to the world.

Where I live, we have a street book depository, where people leave and take books at random. Once I’ve finished a book, I’ll pop it in the little cubby house, knowing that someone else may find enlightenment or escape in that book that I’ve just read.

The best good deeds are the ones that bring positivity to other people.

At the peak of the pandemic a few months ago, I was stuck in a monotonous drone of work and home. So I decided to break it up and pursue a Masters in Creative Writing. Foolishly I signed up for full-time, and after the third week, I was stretched out — burning my candle at both ends, so to speak. I was working part-time hours and trying to do a full-time course. Hence why you haven’t seen much new work from me lately.

Of course, when I finally took a step back and decided to drop my course to part-time, I realised I hadn’t had a day off in about a month. And when I woke up on my first day off, I randomly decided to run off to the beach. And this really brought me back to reality.

Unfortunately, you may not have the luxury to go to the beach depending on where you are in the world and how your country’s laws are working, but you can still be random. Maybe read a book you wouldn’t normally read or randomly dance to music in the lounge room. Who cares if your housemate sees you — hell, maybe they’ll join in!

The thing is, sometimes loneliness goes hand-in-hand with boredom, which means adding some spontaneity to your day will remove the boredom and distract into having fun.

Are you a budding academic in something? Perhaps you’ve got creativity running through your veins? Whatever your passion, you must find ways to connect to other people who think like you. Even if it’s just over social media.

Apart from the usual like Facebook and Instagram, I find that MeetUp is a great way to connect to groups within your field. Most especially for writers and readers.

Not only is connecting with people great for combating loneliness — however virtual or real it is — it also sets you up for future prospects. Especially if your passion is something you do for a living. When the pandemic ends, you’ll be in a better position thanks to the contacts you’ve made simply by reaching out and meeting people like you.

There’s someone who has always been with you all this time. Even before this global pandemic overtook the world. And that person is you. I say this because I need you to realise that while you are feeling lonely from a lack of human connection, you cannot drown yourself in that kind of thinking.

Technically you are not lonely when you are with yourself.

As someone who’s dealt with dreaded rumination, I know that you can’t out-think yourself. More thinking will lead to more thinking, and the spiral will continue neverending into the abyss of your own mind.

So I’m offering you a bone when I say that you are technically not lonely when you are with yourself. Because in many ways it is true.

Of course, I know that human connection is a necessity. We thrive on belonging to the world. But overthinking about this and letting it cripple you into a ball is not the way to go.

Accept that you are feeling lonely, remember that you are not technically alone, and then do something about it.

Because nothing will ever get done if you just think about it.

Feature image: Sasha Freemind on Unsplash

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