One of the major ramifications of COVID has been feelings of isolation and loneliness…

For many of us isolating for several months meant living alone or in our own bubbles with our close knit of people. Some of us may have felt lonely or continue to but, because of the stigma loneliness carries, we might not want to admit it or in some cases we might not even be able to recognize it. Below are three different types of loneliness that exist. Identifying what type of connection you may be longing for may help you figure out what you need.

Identify your type of loneliness:

Intimate Loneliness 

longing for close intimate relationships. This can be romantic interests, best friends or close relationships with family members.

Relational Loneliness

Longing for relationships that have commonalities. This includes general friendships, relations with co- workers, and school mates.

Communal Loneliness

Longing for a sense of belonging within a larger community that gives you a sense of purpose. This can include social clubs, hobbies, social causes, etc.

You may be feeling one or more of these types of loneliness.

Loneliness shows up for many people and a lot of us may not be immune to it. It alters the way we perceive the world and our relationship with ourselves and others. This is because the sense of isolation can feel like a social threat that can look like:

  • Feeling that others don’t like you
  • Assuming that people are judging you
  • Fear of people rejecting you

The conflicting aspect of loneliness comes from the dual desire to connect with people and at the same time the need to retreat from people. This makes it difficult to manage loneliness. Some ways to navigate those complex emotions include:

Practicing acts of solitude…

Figure out what you want to do with your alone time. Turn it into time of leisure or for some type of purpose, whether that’s watching a favorite show or working on a personal project. This allows you to have more control of your free time.

Speak to the loneliness within you…

Talk in third person to yourself about what you’re feeling. Saying the statement out loud such as “Name is feeling lonely…” is a form of practicing mindfulness and separating ourselves from our emotional state. This may feel a bit bizarre at first, but neurologically, it allows you to watch the cloud of loneliness in your brain (you might even want to imagine a cloud of loneliness passing by in your mind). Instead of the threat overtaking you, you are now in the position to watch the threat that might be happening inside of your body, separate yourself from it, and feel less triggered by it. Take some of the power from the emotion to allow yourself to think about ways to feel less lonely.

Rekindle/Reach out to your connections…

When we’re feeling lonely this can be the toughest thing to do! However, it is also what you might be looking for. For anyone that may be feeling like they don’t have anyone to reach out too, think about friends that you may have lost contact with and work on rekindling those relationships.

Be your authentic self…

Feeling like you must hide parts of yourself to fit in or even feeling misunderstood is a form of loneliness. This can bring up the phenomenon of  “feeling lonely in a crowded room.”  So, it’s best to always try to be yourself, your authentic self!

Get out into the community…

Put yourself out there! This can be hard when we feel socially threatened however, volunteering or becoming a part of a groups/activity that we enjoy can help us find our tribe of people. It can also help us feel good to give back to the community and focus on others.

This is a big difference between being alone vs. loneliness. This is all about the emotional experience of the two. Check in with yourself, are you having a good time being alone or are you having a bad time which can indicate loneliness. Be curious…What is it about the alone time that you dislike and what are some things you would want to add into your life?

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