Feeling Lonely in Quarantine? Here’s What You Can do to Feel Better!
All this time spent shuttered in our homes has been a true test of mental health even if you’re an introvert. Not being able to spend birthdays, holidays or just some quality time with our friends and families is really tough!
Social isolation has been scientifically proven to have adverse effects on your mental and physical health. In fact, many studies show that too much time by yourself can ultimately have similar effects on your body as smoking, obesity and general lack of physical care do.
Learning how to be alone is an art. And, like art, you can get better at being alone the more you practice. If you’re following social distancing guidelines, you’ve got plenty of time on your hands to practice. Perfecting the art of being alone will be your #1 defense against the mental health strain that comes along with being quarantined.
It’s easy to distract yourself from your loneliness with technology, getting sucked into the news or the simple solution of a Facetime that is so often proposed. Sure, chatting with friends through screens is a good way to have some connection with them but it doesn’t make up for what you’re really missing.
This isn’t to say that FaceTime happy hours or virtual dance parties don’t work. Living alone is hard enough and now there’s a global pandemic looming right outside our doors! Yikes. Taking every distraction you can get is needed at this point, but when the call ends and the dance party is over, what do you do if you’re still feeling lovely?
Here is where some ferocious self-love comes into play. Escaping a feeling – in this case loneliness – is just a bad idea in the long run. Have you ever heard the phrase, “the only way out is through”? The same philosophy can be applied to feeling lonely in quarantine.
So, what is there to do? With so many distractions just a click away, it’s quite possible to feel like you don’t ever have to really be alone in quarantine. If you’ve filled your time with Netflix, dance parties and FaceTime calls you’re don’t really give yourself the chance to practice the art of being alone.
Here are some tips for coping with being alone in quarantine and things that you can do to hopefully not feel so isolated.
Know the difference
between being alone, lonely and in solitude.
Being alone is simply a state of being. There isn’t anyone physically near you at the current moment. For many people in quarantine, this is their situation. They don’t have a partner, roommate or family that they live with and they are alone in their home.
Loneliness is a state of mind. It can occur no matter what your physical circumstances are. Have you ever felt “alone in a crowded room”? That is the feeling of loneliness that sometimes can only be mitigated by distraction, if at all.
Solitude is like reaching Enlightenment! It’s the mind-body connection that is okay with your situation and not looking for things to fill your mind because you always have everything that you need. Solitude is being content with where and who you are, knowing that you have everything you need to work through problems on your own.
Again, it takes practice to reach the point where you are feeling solitude! And some people might not ever feel it during these crazy times, and that’s totally okay. No one can be expected to be at peace as the Dali Llama.
Tell someone when you’re feeling lonely
At a time when the world is in a vulnerable state, you could benefit to learn a thing or two from that vulnerability. Have you seen the way that people are coming together to patch the holes in their community, help people who are in need, and radiate positivity and light during these dark times? You friends and family want to do that for you too, but they need to know you need it.
It can be really hard to reach out and say, “Hey, I need some help.” But you’re not the only person who’s navigating a whole new life. Chances are, if you reach out to a friend and let them know how you’re feeling lonely in quarantine, they’re going to mirror those emotions and you can find a way to cope together.
They say that, “misery loves company,” and usually that phrase has negative connotations. During these uncertain times, your loneliness and someone else’s loneliness might match up to create an incredible bond that you never expected.
Create channels of quality communication
Scrolling through Twitter, Instagram and TikTok for hours and hours on end might feel like you’re filling the communication void in your life, but you aren’t making any real connections. Instead of the comments on social media and texts in the group chat, find the few people that you really connect with and create a virtual “social circle.”
A few times a week, or once a day, call one of these people in your circle on the phone or set up a Zoom chat. You don’t need to have deep, meaningful conversations about your mental health in quarantine. But engaging in a social activity that takes more effort than moving your thumbs can do wonders for your overall state of being. When you’re done reading this, give a friend a call and chat for just 10 minutes! See how much better you feel.
Be good to yourself
It’s really easy to beat yourself up when you get inside your head. Thoughts about why you are alone might start running amok, but you can evict those thoughts right out of your head with positive affirmations. Here’s another phrase to emphasize my point: fake it ‘til you make it.
Thoughts become things. When you set intentions and put out into the world what you want to receive, it just has a way of finding you. When you feel lonely get up and look in the mirror and tell yourself 5 amazing things about yourself. Can’t come up with anything? Use these (no matter how corny they might sound!):
- You do not need outside approval to feel whole. Right now, you have everything that you need to make it through today and thrive tomorrow.
- I’m proud of you for getting out of bed today and doing what you had to do to take care of yourself, even if it was just washing your hands.
- Your friends and family love you and want to help
- You are of great value. You couldn’t get through the day without you!
- You deserve that extra glass of wine
Make efforts toward solitude
Here’s where the practice really comes into play. It’s going to be tough but make small, active efforts every day to get you one step closer to that peace within.
The very first step is turning your phone and TV off!
Okay, step one is done. Try implementing one of these practiced into your routine every day (or once a week, no need to overwhelm yourself)
- Take a walk – even if it’s just for 10 minutes, that’s 10 minutes you spent alone with your thoughts.
- Read one chapter of a book – put your attention span to the test and escape into some good literature instead of whatever people are spewing on Facebook these days. While reading isn’t exactly being alone with your thoughts, it’s a good way to practice solitude and stillness.
Meditate – meditating is harder than you might think if you’ve never done it before but there are some great guided meditation apps and YouTube videos to help guide you into solitude
- OK, you’re allowed to grab your phone for this one. But put it on Do Not Disturb mode so notifications don’t ruin your Zen!
Idle activities – puzzles, painting, cooking, or knitting can actually be a form of meditation, too! It’s all about freeing your mind and getting comfortable with what’s going on up there while giving your hands something to do. You might spend a few hours in solitude before you even know it! That wasn’t so hard, was it?
- With idle activities, you have the added bonus of looking back on something that you created. Now you’re a master of solitude and have something to show for it. Way to go!
If you can get the hang of this turn-loneliness-into-solitude thing, you might never feel FOMO (the fear of missing out) again! Of course, when things get back to normal, you’ll probably still want to join in on as many social activities as possible and squeeze your friends real tight.
Just keep reminding yourself that this IS going to pass. Even if we have to adapt to (another) new normal when we’re allowed to socially gather again, the important this is that your friends and family are going to be there, and you have many more good times to look forward to.