So, let’s start with this question first: What did the Pandemic of 2020 teach us about the human race? We long for social interactions …. OR would the correct word be “crave” for it? A common belief that society has propagated: “Being dependent on each other is a sign of weakness and being independent is what showcases our ability to function” So, why was there an increase in mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, stress and sadness when our social interactions were taken away from us during the pandemic?? Loneliness was thought to be a by-product of the pandemic but it is much more complicated than that.
Feeling lonely is a very complex emotion at the subjection to many variables…
- Situational Variables: Such as lockdown, moving to a new location or a divorce.
- Mental Health: Someone who is already living with depression or has a low self-esteem; social anxiety and other mental health illnesses can contribute or inflame feelings of loneliness.
- Social Media: The dependency on getting “likes” or becoming “influencers” has led the younger generations to live in a lonely world where they are craving human attention but in a very different way clouding their judgment on what it actually means to have an authentic relationship.
- Lack Of Authenticity: We all have “connections” in our life, but do we actually feel “connected” to them? Or are we showing up as what others want us to show up as? If we don’t understand our true selves, how can we have authentic connections in our life?
- Marginalisation: Individuals in marginalised communities may experience more loneliness due to rejection/lack of acceptance in society. Fear of rejection may also inflame loneliness for these individuals. Marginalisation can be linked to sexual orientation, gender, ethnicity, disability, geography, religion, displacement, or conflict.
When you feel lonely- your mental health suffers; and when your mental health suffers- you isolate and become lonely; thus, feeding the cycle.
How do you stop yourself from landing into this cycle? Here are few tips:
- Understand your true self first: We live in a world where we are constantly trying to adapt to the changes around us. Those changes means that we lose our authentic selves and start to live a lie. To ground yourself again start doing the following things:
- Self-reflect: Self-reflect on what is important to you and what your needs are vs. the wants. Do you need to have lots of people in your life or do you want to have authentic meaningful long relationships?
- Journal: Sometimes it helps to journal and write down things about yourself that are unique to you. It grounds you again into discerning your true self from versions of yourself you may create to please others.
- Stop comparing yourself to others: Living in a world governed highly by social media, stop telling yourself “Iwish I was like them…” or “I wish I could have that kind of influence” When you tell yourself these things, you isolate yourself from truly living.
- Talk to a therapist: Take the help of a professional to understand the cause of your loneliness. If it is related to a mental health illness, then your therapist can help you navigate it safely. If it is caused due to other variables in your life, then your therapist can help you dive deeper into finding the root cause of your problems.
- Make new connections: Once you are ready to make changes in your life, then start to build new connections that resonate with you on a deeper level. Start getting rid of those connections that are what I like to call “energydrainers” and are only there in your life when you have something to offer to them. Here are some ways to start making those connections:
- Find new activities: The best way to make new connections is by finding an activity that you are interested in. This allows you to meet new people that you have something in common with.
- Go through your friends lists: It could be that you recently made new friends that resonated with you at a deeper level but you avoided them because those individuals did not fit the “need” of your so-called perceptions. Try connecting with those individuals who you feel allow you to be who you are.
- BE EASY ON YOURSELF: This is so important to mention here. Don’t put pressure on yourself to completely change your life around. TAKE IT SLOW! When you are making such drastic changes in your life, it has to be done by taking baby steps.
Understanding the “why” behind your loneliness is going to take time. You need to remember that giving yourself time to heal and move forward is critical to combating loneliness. Embark on this journey by first finding your authentic self.
Megha is a Certified Life Coach with a Masters of Arts in Counselling Psychology and has been working as a Psychotherapist since 2009. She decided to become a Certified Life Coach to reach individuals who are looking for targeted approach at the cross-roads of their life. “We all feel stuck at times and just need that additional push to move us forward and unlock greater levels of happiness and live a more meaningful life.”