Learning how to cope with loneliness is no doubt an essential skill during the age of self-isolation. Current stay-at-home regulations have made the battle with loneliness more challenging than ever. Finding effective ways to cope with loneliness is much easier said than done. If you find yourself struggling with an excess of solitude, know that there are ways to improve your mental health during this time, and cope with lonelienss.
Your level of loneliness depends on a wide variety of factors, some of which are in your control. The good news is, you can alter your daily lifestyle to effectively cope with your feelings of loneliness or emptiness.
Unsurprisingly, loneliness is especially prevalent for those who live in a single-person household. According to the 2019 annual report by data aggregate USAfacts, 28% of households are single-person households, which is up by a significant 5% since 1980. Many of us have opted to live entirely alone in the modern age, which makes a mandated quarantine even more difficult to cope with.
However, it’s not just single-person households that are struggling to learn how to cope with loneliness— Something as simple as a change in routine or miscommunication with a loved one can lead to deep feelings of isolation and loneliness. According to licensed psychologist Kelly Donohoe, if we begin to feel isolated for too long, we get a rise in cortisol. Loneliness is physically and mentally and stressful.
It’s important to understand that you’re not alone in how you feel and that there are a number of effective ways to cope with loneliness head-on. Quarantine may make it temporarily impossible for you to engage in outside social gatherings and activities, but that doesn’t mean you have to suffer in silence.
Below, we’ll decode exactly why you may be feeling lonely, and more importantly, how to cope with loneliness. After all, your mental health should be treated with the same reverence as your physical health. It is more than possible to stay productive and connected during self-isolation with a few of these sound tips.
Understanding The Origin of Your Loneliness
To learn how to cope with loneliness, it’s important to understand why you’re feeling this way. Here are just a few reasons why you may be feeling particularly lonely during quarantine.
The Quarantine Blues
Quarantine has led many of us to switch up our daily routines and change how we interact with others on a regular basis. Humans are a highly social species, so it makes sense that you would feel a degree of loneliness when your contact with others becomes somewhat restricted, or different. This unique period has also brought about a never-ending news cycle, which can cause additional stress for some people.
Isolation From Others
Stay-at-home orders are particularly difficult for those who live alone and are completely isolated during this time. Being alone without proper ways to cope with loneliness can be extremely stressful and lead to feelings of depression or anxiety. In general, our society is lonelier than ever— The advent of the internet and ironically, social media, has made it easier for us to substitute virtual connections for physical ones.
According to Bloomberg, the Gentle & Trust Law Firm has an increased divorce-related caseload by 25%, and the firm is not alone. Divorce rates are spiking due to the increased interaction and conflict as an unexpected result of quarantine.
Your loneliness could certainly be traced back to feeling ultimately disconnected or misunderstood by your significant other or loved ones. Sometimes, being with a partner who makes you feel alone, is just as lonely as being alone.
How To Cope With Loneliness: Productive Things You Can Do
So, how can you learn how to cope with loneliness? Here are a few productive activities to keep you occupied during isolation.
Nurture Your Relationships Virtually
Though you can’t be there in person, you can still spend time safely with the ones you love. Hop online for a shared Skype, Facetime, or Zoom call, or try watching a movie together remotely using Watch Party. You can also pick up the phone for a good old fashioned phone chat, or even set up a fun virtual family or friend game night with an online card game of your choice.
Start A Side-Hustle
If you have some extra time on your hands, this might be the perfect time to start up a side-hustle in your free time. You could pick up a freelancing skill, start your website, or even sell your photos online.
Learn Something New
Learning something new can be one of the best ways to stay engaged during long periods of isolation. It’s the perfect time to learn to draw or play an instrument. Plus, there are a number of websites like Coursera and others offering free virtual courses as a learning tool.
Building A Healthy Routine
One of the best ways to cope with loneliness is by crafting a routine you can depend on. In fact, according to Psychology Today, routines make it easier for us to develop healthy sleep schedules and minimize the risk of developing emotional difficulties.
During quarantine, many of us are forced to dramatically alter the way we go about our daily lives. This can be extremely stressful and can make it challenging to stay productive, especially if you’re transitioning to a remote work environment.
Try your best to make your day as normal as possible— Create a task list with realistic deadlines. This list of tacks gives your day more meaning, which cobats loneliness. Even if your job doesn’t require you to engage in daily video conferencing, make sure you change your clothes as you would under normal circumstances. Small details such as this one can help you establish a sense of normalcy, and make your transition into isolation much easier.
Do you sometimes feel a lack of connection to people or things, due to spending too much time alone? Try to break up your screentime by spending some time outside. Spending time in nature is linked to happiness. Even as you’re social distancing, you’ll still feel a connection to the outside world and those around you, which can help you feel less alone.
By mastering the art of the routine, you’ll learn how to cope with loneliness by simply changing up how you go about your normal day.
Creating Healthy Distractions
While being productive during self-isolation is important, you should still remember to give yourself a break. The key is to understand the difference between healthy and unhealthy distractions.
According to Dr. Jane McGonigal, author of SuperBetter: The Power of Living Gamefully, understanding our reasons for distractions plays a key role in determining whether or not they are healthy for us. She proses the question, “Do you act to escape your real life, or do you act to make your real-life better?”.
That being said, taking a break by watching or consuming media, relaxing or playing a video game can all be perfectly healthy— As long as you’re not doing it all day long, and you’re not doing it to avoid conflict or an underlying issue.
It can also be helpful to set up self-imposed limits so that you don’t become overly indulgent. Taking a walk in-between screentime can help you reestablish your connection with nature, and give you a chance to see other human beings out and about. At the very least, we can try our best to be conscious of why we are choosing to commit to a particular action or activity.
At the end of the day, coping with loneliness during self-isolation has a lot to do with consciously monitoring our mental health and needs. With the aid of virtual social connection, healthy distractions, and opportunities to be productive and provide our days with meaning or purpose, we will all eventually make it through this trying time.