The pain of loneliness has been a part of the human journey since the first primordial man walked out of the muck. There have also been viruses and bugs that we have had to adapt to as we developed into the current model of human being that exists today. And every season there is something new that we have to develop an immunity against for future generations. Throughout history, epidemics and pandemics have driven people into their homes to quarantine themselves to be safe. What’s different about this? Two things. It’s our turn and we are more interconnected at this time than any other point in history and we can more easily share what we’re going through.
while being so interconnected has many benefits, it does make it more difficult to find time, space, or even the desire to disconnect from each other. We all carry devices that make it possible for anyone to reach us any time and any place. Spending time disconnected is the luxury that we all believe we cannot afford as doing so would cause untold calamity in our lives. If we’re honest, I’ll bet many of us thought first about how we were going to stay connected to work before thinking about how we were going to stay connected to our family.
In a recent study of 20,000 people conducted by Cigna, 47% of respondents reported feeling alone or left out. 13% reported feeling that there was no one, 0%, who knew them well. This pain of loneliness has now followed them into the quarantine and it is where many of us have been introduced to it in a sustained way for perhaps the first time in our lives.
But what is loneliness actually?
My favorite source, dictionary.com, defines loneliness as sadness because one has no friends or company. This definition seems to minimize the actual pain of loneliness doesn’t it? Defining loneliness from a psychological perspective, however, the pain one experiences is included and loneliness is defined as the distress that you can experience when you don’t think you have the quantity or quality of social relationships that you desire.
From a psychological perspective then, you aren’t lonely because you have few friends and supports, you experience the pain of loneliness when you don’t have as many friends as you would like or those friendships don’t feel authentic and supportive. Loneliness depends entirely on how you feel about the quality of your relationships and whether you feel socially and/or emotionally connected to the people in your life.
Loneliness has also been linked to physical and mental health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, anxiety, and depression. Some physical symptoms of loneliness are brain fog, muscle tension, digestive issues, decreased sex drive, weaker immune system. Headaches, and sleep disturbances (https://www.bustle.com/p/8-unexpected-physical-symptoms-of-loneliness-8750984).
Loneliness is something that we feel in a real and profound way and can have huge influence on how we are experiencing life during the current pandemic. But what can we do? The quarantine is still necessary, and we can’t continue to feel like this.
Here are 8 strategies that might help you when you are feeling the pain of loneliness during this quarantine
So, while you may be feeling the pain of loneliness during this time of self-quarantine, you can break free of it. Try some of the strategies discussed above and see if it relieves some of your sadness. It can get better, but you must try something different to make it better. And here’s one more idea. Go outside today. You aren’t going out to meet anyone, but you are going out to let Mother Nature take care of you a bit. Put on your mask and let her.
Are you feeling the pain of loneliness and can’t seem to find any relief? Schedule a free 20-minute consultation call with me, Melissa Watson-Clark, by filling out this form.
Melissa Watson-Clark has been practicing as a psychotherapist since 2010. Working primarily with clients suffering with anxiety and depression she focuses on the power of nature to bring healing and restoration to her clients.