Loneliness During Lockdown
What is loneliness?
Remember like all feelings and emotions, loneliness is a healthy emotion; it can reveal places we yearn for connection. It's only when loneliness takes control, that’s when it becomes problematic.
It’s common to mistake being alone as feeling lonely. A person is alone when he is by himself. A person is lonely when he feels abandoned or sad due to isolation. The feeling of loneliness isn’t a choice. It comes from a feeling of being disconnected from others.
Loneliness is something we all may experience at some point in our lives. For many, it’s a feeling that only lasts a moment and in certain situations. Others, however, may feel lonely all or most of the time.
Social interaction is a part of life and its human nature to crave companionship and compassion. Due to lockdown, feelings of isolation can come with serious health problems, both mental and physical. Feelings of isolation are often associated with depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. It is known that connectedness does not only make our lives interesting, but it is important for our own survival.
So, in these difficult times what can we do to help ourselves to feel better?
Here's what therapists, doctors, and researchers say are some of the best strategies to cope with loneliness:
1. Name it. Validate it.
Telling other people, you're lonely can feel scary, shameful, and self-defeating. But expressing that feeling can be the beginning of releasing it.
2. Take stock of connections you already have
Sometimes when we are feeling lonely, we can't see what's right in front of us. At times like this we can't meet our friends and family in person, but we can connect via apps such as, zoom, facetime and house party.
3. Recognize you are not alone (in feeling lonely)
Over 9 million people in the UK say they are always lonely. Know that if you're feeling isolated, you're sharing the same experience with millions of other people.
4. Reconnect with self-love and appreciation
You can use alone time to get back in touch with you. "You have to be your own best friend". Being alone and strolling through nature can be meditative too.
5. Perform anonymous acts of kindness
Sometimes when you feel alone, you might feel like isolating yourself from the world completely and this will only continue the cycle of loneliness. What can help is to offer an act of kindness in these troubled times. By helping other in turn, you are helping yourself by staying connected and feeling less isolated.
6. Put your hand over your heart
Lack of physical connection can be the cause of loneliness. When we were babies, our bodies were trained to respond to physical touch as a form of communication and connection with our caregivers. So, even if you don't consider yourself a touchy-feely person, physical contact has always been at the centre of feeling safe, secure, and cared for. So, whilst you are in lockdown and your relatives and friends aren’t able to hug you, take a moment, close your eyes and place your hand over your heart and see if that helps you feel physically connected.
7. Create something
Sketch. Paint. Knit. Anything to get your creative juices flowing. These activities can elevate and transcend our negative emotional experiences through self-expression.
8. Check your social media usage
While the jury is still out on whether or not the rise of social media is driving loneliness and depression, it doesn't hurt to revaluate the influence it has on your life. Ask yourself these questions
- Are you using it to make meaningful connections?
- Are you spending too much time on it?
- Is it causing you to withdraw in unhelpful ways?
If it is to connect meaningfully then that’s great but if you are on social media comparing your life with someone else’s then that’s not great and may leave you feeling dissatisfied with your life which may cause you to retreat into an even lonelier place than before.
Work with a mental health professional
Sometimes we need professional help to escape the dark thoughts keeping us in isolation.
How My Online Sessions Work & Prices
My online counselling sessions are conducted over Zoom. I send out an email before a session which contains a link to click on to join our session. As with my face to face sessions, online sessions are 50 minutes long.
Unlike my face to face sessions, I am not able to guarantee our sessions are private as I can only control the environment my end; which will always be secure as I have a private, closed space to work in and use headphones during sessions. To ensure your session remains confidential, you will need to make sure you are in a quiet and private environment.
More details relating to online sessions can be found here.
Special lockdown prices:
£65 per session (normal price £78)
Sliding scale is available for those who are struggling financially during lockdown
I have set aside a number of sessions per week available FREE to NHS staff