Battling Loneliness with Grace

Loneliness, stress and anxiety can be grouped together, and are oftentimes experienced coincidingly. The mounting crisis and stress of COVID-19 comes with many challenges. With stay-at-home orders in place all over the country, many people are adjusting to the work from home life, and those with home offices are experiencing even more time at home.


Having a social life no matter what your work life looks like, feels good. Getting together over drinks, over a hobby or at the gym has many perks. It is satisfying to receive acknowledgement or have a short interaction with your daily barista, store clerks or other people you might regularly see. Our daily routines and interactions have been completely changed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the fact is, we are all in this together.


Here is how you can start to cope with mounting loneliness.



Create a Social Community


Maybe it is fitness classes hosted by a friend, or friend of a friend. So many fitness instructors are using Zoom to host classes. Working out with people Hollywood Square style is not the same as sweating a classroom together but nonetheless it can help keep you healthy. Online meetings and video chat are our new norm. Maybe online workouts are not your thing; you can instead setup a happy hour or dance party and invite all of your favorite people. Have you considered having a virtual coffee?


Finding new ways to be social can be a lot of fun, but more importantly keep you sane.


Change Your Environment


Changing your environment is supported by small changes and is important for your general well being, and creativity. Getting outside is of course a great option. Take a short walk, setup a workstation or a meal in your backyard, or on your balcony and enjoy nature. Walk outside, kick your shoes off, feel the earth beneath your feet, and turn your face towards the sun.


If it is an option inside of your home, move your workstation. Changing your environment helps to shift your perspective and keep creative ideas flowing.


Self-Work


Personal growth and development is an investment in yourself. Instead of listening to or reading the news, listen to an audio book or podcast, or read a book that supports personal growth or growth in your career. What healthy habits would you like to cultivate during this time?


This is a great time to turn your gaze inward and grow. Stay organized, set attainable goals, and stay intentional. There is a unique opportunity to come out stronger and more capable after all of this is over.

Acknowledge Your Feelings and Be There for Others


When loneliness, sadness, stress, anxiety or frustration start to creep in, call a friend, ask if they can listen to your thoughts or feelings and share with the intention to let it go. Oftentimes sharing your feelings receives a human response which serves as a reminder, we are all in this together.


It is equally important to be there for others. The sure way to find feelings of love and acceptance is to let love and acceptance move through you. Do not judge who is worthy of receiving support at this time. Even though traffic is minimal in most places, let someone go ahead of you, be sure to thank your clerks at the grocery store or gas station; if you are picking up food or having it delivered be sure to thank your delivery human. Do not compare your suffering to anyone else's, we are all facing our own set of challenges.


Just be nice.


Gratitude


A little gratitude goes a long way. Gratitude reverses the effects of many negative emotions. The Seven Mind Traps are relatable and you have likely experienced many of these during this time. Gratitude is remedy for many of these. Take time each day to turn your mind towards who and what you have gratitude for.


Gratitude has the power to anchor you in the present moment. Being anchored in the present moment is followed by feelings of being grounded and calm.


Spend ten technology free minutes a day and turn your mind towards gratitude. You can write a thank-you note, give someone a call and let them know you appreciate them. Do not forget that there is good happening in the world right now. Gratitude will help you stay healthy and happy.



Most people are feeling afraid and unsure right now, and it is important to know, it is okay to feel afraid. The easiest way to deal with being afraid is to acknowledge your feelings. Name and accept your feelings, and notice over planning or over preparing. Making a habit of planning and preparing can devolve to obsession.


Don’t wait for change. Taking care of yourself in times of crisis is certainly more challenging but vital for mental and physical health. Start to cultivate positive habits and practices now. All of the strategies listed here will of course help you deal with loneliness but will also help you manage turbulent emotions.


© 2020 by Markesha Miller, Ph.D.