This year, we have spent a lot of time at home, with minimal social interactions and apart from many of our loved ones. We are nine months into the coronavirus pandemic and these conditions will likely continue into much of 2021. Many people are experiencing loneliness during this time. And there is usually a negative connotation associated with loneliness. However, it may benefit us to rethink our idea of loneliness and how we cope with loneliness during this time.
Change Your Perspective on Loneliness
As humans, we are wired to crave connection with other people. It’s important to our survival to be around others and have shared experiences. So it’s normal to feel lonely when we are by ourselves for long periods of time. There is also a societal pressure to always have something going on and to not get bored or lonely. However, loneliness is something that we shouldn’t be ashamed of. It’s so often looked at in a negative light, but everyone feels loneliness at times. It is inevitable and something that we can all bond over together.
How to Cope With Loneliness
Instead of trying to decrease loneliness, here are ways that we can lean into the experience of loneliness and cope with it in healthy ways.
Normalize Loneliness For Yourself and Others
There is a stigma and shame that surrounds loneliness. We may worry that if we show that we are lonely, it means that we’re not likable. However, we should normalize being lonely as a natural part of the human experience. It can be vulnerable to even say the words, “I feel lonely.” out loud. But once we do this, we begin to realize we are not alone in our loneliness. And it’s comforting to know that.
Talk About How You’re Feeling
Going even further, we can cope with our loneliness by continuing to talk about it with others. Talking about it can make us feel less lonely and ashamed. Although it may seem uncomfortable getting vulnerable in this way with friends or family, instead of merely saying, “I’m fine.”, talking about being lonely will likely lead to others admitting they feel the same way or offering to connect with us more. Being honest about how we are feeling will bring us closer to people and our feelings of loneliness won’t feel so daunting.
Use More Connective Tech
Oftentimes, our automatic response to feeling lonely is to turn to social media in hope of connection or distraction. However, research has shown that those platforms can actually make us feel more lonely and socially isolated. Here are some less isolating ideas for using tech to cope with loneliness:
- FaceTime friends and family
- Organize virtual game nights over Zoom
- Participate in virtual book clubs or other virtual clubs pertaining to your hobbies
- Take online workshops or classes that interest you
Further Your Self-Understanding
Loneliness can actually open up a lot of opportunity for us. We can transform our loneliness into solitude and use our solitude to further our self-understanding. Use solitude as a jumping-off point for self-discovery. We can use this time away from external stimuli of work, tech, or friends and family to engage in activities where our authentic self comes to the surface. For you, this may look like connecting with nature or finding a creative outlet to express yourself. Having the time to focus on ourselves will bring us greater self-understanding and purpose in a time that is less socially exciting.
Finding peace and fulfillment in solitude is a skill that we can all get better at with time. The coronavirus pandemic may even help to normalize loneliness and make it sound less shameful. Having time to ourselves can be fulfilling if we make it purposeful. It’s all about a slight change in perspective.