Stuck all alone during quarantine? Or in lockdown with someone else who doesn’t understand you, and it's making you feel more and more lonely? How can you deal with Covid-19 loneliness?
Reading this article but still telling yourself you 'aren’t really that lonely….''.? We can’t fix things if we don’t accept they exist.
It’s okay to feel lonely. More people are experiencing it right now than ever. It's also okay to hate being lonely. And it's okay to feel angry that you are alone in a pandemic. It's tough. But here you are, experiencing it.
Trying to resist feeling lonely not only takes mental and emotional energy we sorely need in the face of Covid-19. It can also lead to all sorts of habits of distraction that can then cause their own set of problems.
If we just let ourselves feel what we feel, we can feel a shift, and also process the feelings behind the loneliness, like sadness or rage. And we can stop the feeling from clogging up our mind gaining enough clarity to take positive action.
When we are alone we can start to have a whole ton of unhelpful thoughts that seem realistic. But they are actually what psychologists would call'thinking errors', or ‘cognitive distortions’ -- thoughts that deviate from reality.
These can sound like:
Yes, maybe your ways of relating could use some troubleshooting so that intimacy is easier for you. But even people with the very best relating skills sometimes find themselves alone. Right now you are just unlucky.
When we are lonely we can lower our standards and just want connection, any connection. But this can backfire.
If you don't feel you have someone to talk to, are really low, and not sure what to do? Don't overlook calling a mental health help line where volunteers are happy to have a chat.
(The NHS provides a list of mental health hotlines you can can access in the UK - find it here).
The challenges a pandemic like Covid-19 present means ‘true colours’ rise.
You might see other sides to people you have long thought of as friends. Behaviours or opinions that go strongly against your own personal values that you find hard to accept, and leave you pulling away.
On the other hand, you might find that people you only know casually are saying things you like on social media. Or that a casual acquaintance gets in touch and it’s nice to chat. Perhaps you start connecting with total strangers on a forum.
Stay open to support and communication from unlikely sources. It's a world that is changing fast, and that can include relationships.
It’s normal to notice all the people who aren’t alone, who are with family or a partner, and feel terrible that you are overlooked by the world. And all it does is make you feel worse.
It takes effort to accept you might not be the unluckiest person in the world. To focus on others who are less fortunate. Elderly people who are not only alone but don’t know how to use the internet. People who aren’t alone but are in lockdown with an abuser, those still on the streets in these troubled times, or in countries with little to no medical supplies.
Constantly binging on television or video games to avoid loneliness is not usually recommended. But a bit of ‘guerilla tactics’ during troubled times like a pandemic or lockdown makes sense.
It’s easy to feel misunderstood. It is harder and takes real effort to communicate this and help others to undertstand you. But it’s the best way to stop feeling lonely.
Or course this means YOU have to understand you. So sit down and spend time journalling about:
If there is one thing that can leave us feeling lonelier than ever it’s reaching out to someone, wanting to connect, but then making a mess of it.
We retreat, feeling rejected or faulty. But there’s nothing wrong with you, just your communication.
Read up on communication, a superpower in stressful times, and remember things like:
This isn’t about religion or believing in God. You can be an avowed atheist and still feel connected to something greater.
It’s about realising that there is more to life than just knowing people. That greater things connect us all somehow.
This might mean:
Volunteering is shown by research to improve moods and help us feel part of something bigger. If you can’t leave the house, see if you can help someone over the internet or in a forum.
Or consider helping animals. There are people who have had to rush to their home countries after living abroad for some time, or to take care of family, leaving pets behind. Others who aren’t well enough to take care of their pets. If you love animals, this might be a time to foster.
Is your loneliness so big during this pandemic you are having dark thoughts? Just feel so lost you can't see a way out? And nobody 'gets it'?
A counsellor or psychotherapist will. They also create a safe space to look at other issues hidden behind the loneliness. And he or she will help you learn and practice tools to mean you feel less lonely and more at home being you, even in lockdown and troubled times.
Ready to get some proper support, fast? And all from the safety of your home? Book one of our internet therapists now and start talking your way towards feeling better.
Andrea Blundell is and editor and lead writer with Harley Therapy. She did training in person-centred counselling and coaching.