Three tips for coping with loneliness in lockdown
With restrictions on seeing people, it's only natural for us to feel lonely in lockdown sometimes. Will, 25, shares three tips that have helped him to cope.
Loneliness is such a difficult phenomenon. It has a different meaning to every one of us – you could be surrounded by friends and family and yet still feel lonely; you could be living with your favourite people in the world, and still feel lonely. With the issues that the pandemic is creating, it also seems unlikely that rates of loneliness will slow down either. So what can we do to combat these feelings?
There are three things that I find important for keeping my mental wellbeing in check and loneliness at bay.
1) Focus on what you have
First, I cannot emphasise enough the importance of appreciating the small things and trying to be as present as possible in each social situation. Family Zoom calls, university meetings, chats with your partner – it’s easy to fall into doing these things with our minds elsewhere. Instead, try to be present in each situation and appreciate the amazing ways that technology can keep us connected, even in such strange circumstances.
Appreciating each conversation as it comes and enjoying the moment is so important. Too many times I have caught myself wondering when we will speak again and when we will see each other again and this leads to further negative thinking and a worse mood! Try to stay present, stay mindful, and enjoy the company rather than focussing on the fact that you can’t see them in person.
2) Contact loved ones with purpose
My second tip for reducing loneliness is to contact people more purposefully. There are lots of ways to stay in touch – whether that’s texting, Zoom calls or social media - but what you talk about is just as important as the how and how long. Having general chit-chat can be great for the mind! But what can be even better is having a topic in mind to talk about – read a book and share your thoughts, watch a film and share your feelings, or just have a conversation about something different. Avoiding talk about typical work tasks and daily routines and investing energy into something unique can open up a series of conversations, avenues of interest and can strengthen any relationship.
My tips would be to research a new concept, find a new band or artist, or try new recipes together (socially distanced or over video chat). Anything fresh and new can enhance the conversation and, in my experience, elevates my mood further and leaves me feeling more connected to the person I’m talking to.
3) Be open, be honest
The last technique I would suggest is to be honest and open with those closest to you. It seems so obvious but telling someone close to you that you feel lonely can really help – I have done this in the past, and it has improved a bond and gotten someone to reach out to me even more.
We may feel lonely because our friends or family are busy, but if you tell them you are struggling, they are more than likely to give you a helping hand and make time for you, which improves the social connection and instantly combats the lonely feeling. It is a really difficult thing to do - admitting that you are vulnerable is challenging - but reaching out can do the world of good.
And lastly, a general tip for us all: there are always people out there who love and cherish us, no matter what.
Author: Will, 25
Where to get help
All of us will feel lonely at some point in our lives, and it can be difficult to cope with. But there are things you can do to feel better and people who can help.