Let’s talk about loneliness.
Never in a million years did I think that I’d have to be doing videos on how to survive quarantine, but here we are.
And right now there are a lot of mixed emotions going around. There’s a lot of fear, there’s a lot of anxiety, there’s a lot of confusion, but one of those feelings that I think is coming to the forefront is loneliness.
For some of you, being put into isolation literally means that for the past few weeks and for the unforeseeable future, you are going to be completely alone.
And let’s face it, that will probably take a toll on your mental health. In this video, I actually want to address the feeling of loneliness.
I want to address this time that we’re in and how to be able to combat that emotion of loneliness so that it doesn’t overwhelm you, so that you don’t lose perspective and so that you can keep living your best life despite circumstances.
The first thing that I will say is this, your circumstances are not your identity.
When we’re placed in a situation which isn’t familiar to us, or we feel like we don’t have as much control as what we normally would in a normal structured or routine or everyday life, we can start to believe that what we feel from this abnormal circumstance or this abnormal situation, is a representation of who we are.
And we confuse our DO with our WHO, or what you’re doing or what you’re experiencing with your actual identity and your work.
So it’s really important to be able to separate the two .
Now, how do you do that? What you need to do is you need to first catch yourself when you are feeling this sense of loneliness because maybe you don’t have anyone in your home.
You’re walking around, the rooms are empty, you need to go into age room and you need to be able to focus on, not the emptiness, but what is that room actually filled with?
So instead of feeling like, “I’m in a big apartment by myself, therefore I’m lonely, I don’t have anyone in my life.” I would literally go around into each room and go, “What is in this room?
You don’t want to just go around and name what you can see in the rooms, you actually want to give purpose to those things.
It helps put things into perspective that you actually do have things in your world right now physically that do have purpose, and not only that, it actually distracts your brain.
It forces your brain to then focus on what you do have, not what you don’t.
Second thing to do is to build an online community even if you’re not a tech person.
If you want to help beat this feeling of loneliness, you’re going to have to get a little bit creative and step out of your comfort zone in order to be able to build online friendships.
But there are apps out there that actually allow you to schedule online social meetups with everyone at the same time.
Joining Facebook groups, joining maybe forums, things that you’re interested in, means that you can spark complete new conversations with people that you haven’t even met.
And what that does is it actually, again, forces your brain to discover curiosity about new people.
What I would personally do is I would have a combination of both.
So that way you give yourself an opportunity to discover new friendships and again, force your brain to be able to seek out interest in different areas, which keeps it focused on finding rather than focused on lacking.
The third thing to do is make a list of how you feel.
I think that one of the big struggles about mental health is everyone’s just like, “Oh, you’ll feel better.” Or, “Just do this and you’ll be fine.” Or, “Just talk about it and you’ll be fine.”
Definitely talking about stuff does help you get perspective on things and it can help release a lot, but let’s be honest, sometimes you don’t feel fine.
Sometimes loneliness can really overwhelm you and swallow you up and put you in this black pit of darkness inside your own head where you just feel completely despaired. I have so been there.
And the last thing that I want you to do is have panic attacks or feel that you’re falling into depression. Again, we want you to be able to come out of quarantine actually stronger than when you went into it.
So, let’s get practical then.
Make a list of how you feel rather than just assuming that what you’re feeling is wrong and that you should be feeling something else.
Let’s just start to identify those feelings because when we can start to identify those feelings, for example, you might say, “Well today I feel depressed. Today I feel really lonely.
Today I feel really anxious.” It’s not that you’re giving power to those feelings, but you’re at least acknowledging them.
Because if you start suppressing them, that’s when everything will get bottled up and then it will manifest in some toxic sort of way.
So allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling.
If you’re having down days then write it down. “Today, I’m feeling blah, blah, blah.” Maybe start a little journal about how you’re feeling currently, but then make sure you always counteract it with how you would like to feel.
The difference is is I don’t want you to get stuck in that feeling.
We have to acknowledge that feeling, maybe write it down, but then write down something else of how you want to feel so that your brain once again goes, “Hmm, okay, she’s experiencing this, but she wants to do this instead.” And we want to again, shift your brain to focus on what you do want to feel.
The next thing to do is foster a pet or a person.
I know that might seem really crazy, but animals are such amazing company. Even a plant.
A pet, a person or a plant. Having some sort of other life inside your house means that you’re actually going to have extra energy in your house, and when you have extra energy it helps balance your own energy out.
And I know you’re thinking, “A plant?” Trust me, some plants take so much care and energy and effort that they require your attention, they require your focus, they require care.
And that’s what you want to do, you want to be able to have some other life in your house, whether it is fostering a pet from your local pet store or maybe borrowing a friend’s pet, even if it’s a fish or a bird, doesn’t necessarily have to be a cat or a dog.
It means that it’s not just about you then. It means that yes, you have company, but say if you can’t get a pet or a person, at least if you have a plant, it means that you’ve got something to care for.
So it’s taking the shift of yourself and it gives you a sense of contribution. It gives you a sense of I belong here because this plant needs me, or this pet needs me, or this person needs me, I have purpose in this moment, something else needs me.
And it gives you a sense of I am needed, I am wanted and again, I have purpose in this circumstance.
The next thing to do is be careful with who you do actually seek attention from.
When we’re feeling lonely, often we get desperate. We get desperate for attention and validation and love, and that is totally normal.
I did it for years. But if we seek attention from the wrong people or for the wrong reasons, we can set ourselves up for unmet expectations, heartache, or basically maybe even letting someone else down.
So just be wary of who you’re having conversations with, whether it’s on dating apps or maybe friends that have come out of the woodwork, which you haven’t had anything to do with a long time, or maybe new relationships that you’re building.
Just assess who you’re speaking to, why you’re speaking to them, and what value they’re adding to your life and what value you’re adding to their life.
The next thing to do is be busy and productive.
I know that there are a lot of gurus out there who will tell you there is a massive difference between being busy and productive. We can be busy with something, but it’s not necessarily effective and we can be effective with something, but we don’t necessarily feel that we have to be busy with it.
Well, what I suggest is, do both. Because there are times where it’s good to be busy, whether it is sorting through your clothes or doing lots of little tasks just to distract your mind and keep you focused on doing something with your hands instead of allowing your thoughts to wander down the fact that you’re alone.
Now, being productive means that you have purpose to your actions.
So maybe you want to be productive on some days where you’re like, “Okay, I’m going to do a business plan.” Or, “I’m going to do something that I’d been putting off for a long time because I know it’s going to set me up for my next career move.”
So have that combination of maybe just being busy with no necessarily intentional purpose, but at least you’re doing something to distract your brain. And on the other hand, have some sort of productive activities as well.
And lastly, lovely people out there, have some sort of routine and structure.
What happens is, is when our mental health is getting the better of us and we’re feeling really alone, is we can just shut down.
And I know from my own experience of going through bouts of depression, all I wanted to do was just sleep.
I didn’t want to get up in the morning, I didn’t want to do work, I didn’t want to put normal clothes on or eat normal food, and your day just becomes really messy and that kind of just reflects what’s going on in your head and your heart.
So what we need to do is if we’re feeling something, we can’t allow our feelings to run our life or run our day, otherwise we’ll always be like crazy.
We have to actually tell our feelings, “No, this is what our structure is, this is what our routine is.” And eventually what you’re doing will affect your feelings.
So if we can do things that actually do give us a routine as in maybe getting up at a certain time each morning and doing a little bit of exercise to get those positive endorphins going, then doing some emailing, then calling your friends and then having lunch and you’ve got kind of like a daily structure going on, it means that you will have purpose and intention in that day. It means that your actions again will be busy and productive and positive, which will eventually start to affect your feelings.
And the trick here guys is, if you want to be able to beat loneliness or beat whatever it is that you’re mentally struggling with, you can’t wait until you feel like doing something, you have to focus on just doing what you know you should do and then eventually the feeling will actually follow later.
And what you’ll find is eventually you will get this snowball effect of momentum which will make you go, “Oh, now I can do this and this and this.”