We all get lonely from time to time, for many different reasons – and we all experience loneliness differently. You might be someone that retreats, or you might seek out all social interaction. It’s understandable to fall into these habits, but there are some more effective ways to manage loneliness.
Here are four great coping strategies to try out.
1. Be present in the world
Experiencing the world around you can help you feel less lonely. If you have trouble with your vision or hearing, you might not experience the world as vividly as others. This can make it hard to connect with others.
If you’re visually impaired you might have had to re-learn how to do everyday activities like cooking, cleaning and walking. This can have a negative impact on your mental health.
For those with hearing loss, having meaningful conversation with people can be extremely challenging. Even if you can lipread, the use of masks has made communication even more difficult.
If you’re a lipreader and feeling lonely, you could ask your household to get hold of a transparent mask to make communicating a bit easier.
2. Find a new hobby
Lots of time at home can mean lots of time to follow your passions. Cross stitch, DIY, baking, pottery, running – the list is endless.
You could try out a hobby targeted specifically at improving mental health like meditation, colouring in (it’s not just for children), or bullet journaling.
A hobby can provide a welcome distraction, improve your concentration, and even connect you with new people when lockdown ends.
Hobbies even provide eustress (the opposite of distress) – the fun type of stress that creates feelings of exhilaration, accomplishments and adrenaline.
3. Set small milestones
It's easier to get through difficult periods if you keep yourself motivated along the way. Set yourself small milestones that you can achieve independently.
This could be anything – it might be doing 10,000 steps every day for a week, reading a book a week for 4 weeks, or learning how to have a basic conversation in Spanish.
Go for small, manageable tasks that’ll help you feel a sense of achievement. The boost in your self-esteem could help ease any feelings of loneliness, and increase your confidence – as well as providing a welcome distraction.
With the dark and cold days over the last few months, you might have spent less time connecting with nature. But the days get warmer and longer as we get into March, and the environment changes. Birds, bees, blossom and flowers all become more present. How you connect with nature might feel different to gloomy November days.
Spending time in nature can help you be present in the moment, and put any overwhelming feelings into perspective. You can try out new activities in nature too – like foraging for herbs and leaves to use in the kitchen, hiking or bird watching.