Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been numerous studies and conversations surrounding the epidemic of loneliness. Even before covid, people were becoming increasingly isolated due to social media, technology, cellphones (texting instead of talking), depression, grief, and other reasons.
Post-pandemic, a lot of people are really feeling the struggle when it comes to being alone almost all the time, including those who have found no other choice than to quarantine and avoid meeting up with others. Experts have revealed that loneliness could have numerous effects on people, including physical and mental health issues, if this lifestyle isn’t managed properly.
We can forge better relationships with friends and family so that we increase the possibilities of having meaningful social interactions now and in the future. At the same time, unfortunately, we can’t force people to spend more time with us to “cure” our loneliness. But we can learn how to get more comfortable with being alone and enjoying our own company over time. Here are a few tips for how we can overcome feelings of loneliness and sadness, and think more optimistically for the future.
Maintain High Standards for Yourself
I talk about this in my book Sing While You’re Single. No matter how low, alone, or sad you may feel, strive to maintain a certain standard for yourself (personal hygiene and looks) and the place where you live (keeping it tidy, organized, and smelling good). Even if it’s just brushing and flossing your teeth meticulously each day or wiping down your kitchen counter so that it gleams. Just do it, it’s for you. You might feel lonely every now and again, but at least you can look good and feel good in your home—make it your Oasis.
Be Good to the Good People You Still Have in Your Life
Nearly a decade ago I was angry and resentful of pretty much everyone in my life because I felt that they abandoned me in my time of need.
Well, you know what? I had to get over that because it was making me increasingly isolated and even more angry at life and people. That approach wasn’t working. So, I began to study Universal principles and listen to motivational speakers and authors. It calmed me and gave me some sense of hope. I worked on myself and forgave whoever I thought wronged me. Truth be told, most people do not care if you are mad at them. Some don’t even know. There is no point hanging onto negative feelings about others—instead, focus on the decent people you know or encounter and build better relationships with them.
Be About Your Business
It is difficult to feel lonely, unhappy, and caught up in negative thoughts when you are busy with something that you are passionate about. Get busy doing something that you love, whether it is working on a plan to generate extra income, studying your craft to become a high-end expert, or working on your artwork.
Remember though: everything in moderation. Avoid becoming a workaholic to the point where you lose yourself or get distracted from other aspects of living well, such as preparing healthy meals, getting exercise, and staying in touch with loved ones.
Continue to Actively Participate in the World
Feelings of loneliness are exacerbated when you start to isolate yourself in your home and not actively participate in the world. Make efforts to go outside as much as possible and stay active. You can take a walk in a park with an ice-cold Snapple or smoothie, go to a shopping center even just to window shop, or just go outside your house and have a short conversation with a neighbor.
Just make every effort to go outside and interact with the world in some way. Breathe in the fresh air. Regular exercise outdoors is renewing and invigorating. See if there may be an outdoor fitness class you can join that allows for proper social distancing or find a quiet, safe place where you can practice yoga stretches.
Recognize When You’re Talking to Your Higher Power
When you feel like you may be talking to yourself, it might really be that you’re talking to your Higher Power, a guardian angel, or maybe a loved one who passed. I don’t think you are really alone if you believe that. Deep down you know that someone who cares about you is listening. Be comforted by that when you are feeling lonely.
It Takes Time to Get Used to Being with Yourself
It can take months or years before you finally become comfortable with just being alone with yourself, whether it’s at home cooking, going to an outdoor restaurant by yourself for a special meal, or just going for a walk on the beach. But there’s a good chance that you might learn to like it: the peace of not having to entertain other people’s personalities or proclivities and just do whatever YOU want.
Sometimes when I am with others, I look forward to getting back to my solitude, peace, and calm. I love myself, I like myself, and I enjoy spending time alone. But that took time.
Despite a number of personal tragedies that were out of my control, I am still optimistic that things can get better. You may be able to relate. This “epidemic of loneliness” does not have to become our new normal. I believe that we can return to having stronger connections with others while also being safe and responsible. We take things day by day, step by step, show genuine care for ourselves and our loved ones, and focus on positive thoughts for the future.
Lynn Gilliard is the author of a popular relationship guide entitled Let Him Chase YOU. Her latest book Sing While You're Single offers advice to women who want to remain single for the time being while still maintaining their belief in the power and possibility of love.