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4 Practical Ways to Handle Loneliness While Social Distancing

“I’m lonely.” It’s a difficult thing to admit and it’s a difficult feeling to feel. During this time of quarantine and social isolation, the rise in loneliness is bound to happen. Here are some ways of handling loneliness during this time of COVID-19 pandemic, the new viral strain in the coronavirus family that affects the lungs and respiratory system.

1. Accept the feeling and know you’re not alone in your loneliness.

Loneliness is a part of the human condition. Every one of us will face the feeling at some point in our lives. Although the thoughts of loneliness may be telling you, you are indeed alone in this feeling and no one can relate, it’s simply not true. Many of us can relate to the feeling. Find solace in knowing you are not alone in these feelings.

2. Be mindful of your lonely thoughts.

I believe loneliness is a state of mind more than a fact. Being isolated can lead to the natural feeling of loneliness and it is easy to become overwhelmed by those feelings. You can begin to feel that loneliness is for eternity. Be mindful of these thoughts. In other words, be aware as they pass through your mind. Remember they are only thoughts and you do not have to dwell on them. You are bigger than your thoughts and they don’t define you. Mindfulness meditation can help with this. By practicing the act of being aware as your thoughts pass through, it can help you let go of them when needed.

3. Explore the difference between loneliness and Depression.

Sometimes loneliness is simply a feeling, while other times, it’s a symptom of depression. It is important to evaluate how your loneliness is affecting you. Loneliness is a reaction to feeling isolated or alone. Whereas depression is a broader feeling that permeates all aspects of one’s life. Loneliness is a natural reaction to one’s need to feel a sense of belonging that is not met. In my experience, depression is a more general feeling of sadness, hopelessness and numbness. Loneliness can be a driving factor for depression in someone’s life. Feeling the need to isolate from others is a symptom of depression and can in turn cause the feelings of loneliness. Combat the loneliness and you can help the depression.

4. Find ways to connect.

We are relational human beings. We were never meant to live life alone, but so often times we find ourselves alone and isolated, especially right now. One of the biggest hurdles is reaching out to others, especially when you’re feeling lonely. It requires vulnerability to admit our loneliness to others. It’s something we hide in guilt and shame. You may be surprised once you reach out to family or a friend there is power in saying something like “I’m feeling lonely. Can we talk?” Taking the first step out of isolation can be scary, but rarely something you’ll regret. Expressing your truth can lead to reigniting old connections or deepening ones you already have.

You may be saying, “But I don’t have anyone to reach out to.” That can be a scary place to be and I have been there before. After so many years of isolation, you may find yourself desperate to reach out and realize there is no one there. This is an important time to reach out to a professional. You can verbalize your situation and begin building skills to help develop relationships. In addition, you can reach out to The Mighty community by posting on #CheckInWithMe. The Mighty community wants to support you.

Loneliness is a real feeling. It’s valid, it’s difficult, and it’s on the rise in our culture. It’s not only a brave choice for us to reach out, be a friend, and be our authentic self. It is also a brave choice for the other person. We are in this together.

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GettyImages photo via tatianazaets