Overcome Your Loneliness
Many women experienced true loneliness during Covid due to social distancing. And some still do not have close contact with family and friends. So some feel alone. Let’s talk about some ways to overcome your loneliness.
Table of Contents
- Alone Time
- Socializing (or lack thereof) During the Time of COVID
- Effects of Loneliness
- Overcome Your Loneliness
- >>ACCESS TO THE DREAM LIFE TOOLKIT<<
I grew up with six siblings in a three-bedroom farmhouse – two brothers and four sisters. Alone time was not something that existed in our home.
In my own home, now that all of the kids are out of the house, I have space and time to be alone. I relish it and use it to craft, write, volunteer (and sometimes do some chores).
Socializing (or lack thereof) During the Time of COVID
But I also like to spend time with family and friends.
During the pandemic, socialization had been limited, particularly time with friends.
Many times socialization was kept to only those living in the same household.
Some of my friends, due to age and/or underlying health issues, had chosen to isolate themselves until the worse of the effects of COVID passed.
And because of their social distancing, loneliness has become a health concern on its own and is leading to additional mental health issues.
Effects of Loneliness
While loneliness can be felt even when one is in the company of others, we usually think of its effects when we are lacking the presence of others.
And while there are always a certain number of people who perpetually suffer from loneliness, there has been a spike in those numbers since the COVID Pandemic.
The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) reports that 40 % of adults are struggling with anxiety and depression, trauma/stress-related symptoms, an increase or restart of alcohol and/or substance use, and an uptick in seriously considering suicide, all symptoms of loneliness, during the past year or so.
Because of the impact on mental health, loneliness can have long-lasting effects on individuals.
In addition to the mental health issues, loneliness can actually increase heart problems and create risks for strokes.
Continued anti-social existence can alter brain functions, diminish memory, and possibly increase the effects of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Overcome Your Loneliness
Here are some ideas for you to try to overcome your loneliness.
1. Express Gratitude
Studies show that when expressing thankfulness, our brain releases dopamine and serotonin, which are neurotransmitters that make us naturally happier.
I’ve talked before about the benefits that one experiences from being grateful.
And there are so many ways that you can express gratitude.
- Tell a family member that you appreciate what they do for you;
- Hug a friend and thank them for spending time with you;
- Thank the server at the restaurant where you had breakfast (and leave a nice tip to show your appreciation);
- Send a thank you note to your aging aunt for the time she spent with you while growing up;
- Thank your child’s favorite teacher for making a difference in her/his life.
Pick out a time of day, first thing in the morning, immediately after dinner, or right before bedtime, get out your journal, and start writing about those people and things that you are grateful for.
Think about your family, the beauty of nature, and experience – new or old, that makes you smile, and write about it.
Writing about your gratitude can bring a sense of joy and help to dissipate your loneliness.
2. Be a Pen Pal
Did you ever have a pen pal? Perhaps you are too young to know what that is!
Before social media, we wrote letters and snail-mailed them, usually to people that we know, but sometimes to someone we never met. And we became friends by sharing our life via letter-writing.
So why not resurrect writing to a pen pal?
Your pen pal could be an old high school friend, a childhood neighbor, or a home-bound fellow church member. Not only will it give you a boost, but imagine the joy it will bring the other person to hear from you!
Or, contact your local assisted-living facility for some ideas on how to brighten a resident’s day by sending a thinking-of-you card. Or purchase an inexpensive box of cards, write a cheery note in each, and drop them at the assisted living home for distribution to all residents!
Search online for some ideas on how to adopt a soldier or become a pen pal to someone serving abroad. There are Facebook groups and various online sites that can get you started. Make sure that you thoroughly vet these sites before jumping in.
3. Volunteering can help to overcome your loneliness
Why do I always suggest volunteerism as a way to break out of a funk?
Because it is proven that we are happier when we help others and expect nothing in return.
There are so many ways that you can help. All you have to do is open your eyes and “see” what needs your community has.
Does your elderly neighbor have weeds in their flower bed? Go out first thing in the morning, before the heat of the day, and get to work.
Your community food bank always needs canned goods, cereal, and personal care items. Next time you go to a grocery shop, purchase an extra item and drop it off. If you can’t drop it off, call them. I’m sure someone will be happy to swing by your door and pick it up!
Contact your place of worship. There is always a to-do list. Maybe you could help to write the weekly newsletter, update the directory, or do some outside clean-up project.
There is always someone who could use help. Just look around for opportunities.
4. Read a Book
Get lost in an adventure, a love story, or a good spy novel. Enjoying your favorite literary genre is a great escape.
Access to a good book has never been easier. Yes, you can even order an e-book on your Kindle!
But if you’re the kind of gal who loves to turn real pages, stop by your library for a book.
Many public libraries now offer a contact-free pick-up service. Just phone your order in, or do it online. They’ll grab your books off the shelves and have them ready for you at a pre-planned time.
While reading a novel may allow you to escape reality for a while, make sure that you do get out and mingle. Closing yourself off with only books is not always healthy.
5. Join a Community of Like-minded People
Get involved with those who enjoy and share the same hobbies as you.
Do you love to crochet? Discuss books. Are you a Mom looking for a place to vent about “the terrible twos”? Or do you want to swap stories about vintage cars?
Look around your community. Scour your local paper for events at the library, parks, and churches. When you find something that you’d like to try, put it on your calendar and attend the function. It’ll be fun to share your common experiences.
It’s also a great way to meet new friends!
If you are still mindful of social distancing, you can find groups of people discussing all types of topics on Facebook. Whatever your hobby or issue is, there is a group that will welcome you.
But, make sure that you are limiting your time online. It can become addictive and too much virtual time can have negative effects. Find a good balance.
6. Spend Time with Others
Recently, I was feeling a little isolated. So, I scheduled a girls’ night. I invited my daughters and a friend with her daughters for a fondue and sangria night. Everyone brought something to share. It was a hit! We had so much fun that we’ll be continuing girls. night.
Reach out to family and friends to see if they are open to visiting.
Invite them over to a morning coffee, a charcuterie board lunch (here’s a good recipe for one), or potluck dinner.
Or, bake some cookies and take them over to your neighbor. What an awesome surprise for them and a great time to catch up.
Maybe you’re not doing in-person visiting, but you can still spend time with loved ones through virtual video technology.
Text your child and arrange a Facetime visit. Or Zoom with your parents.
But if the use of video technology isn’t available, the next best thing is a telephone conversation.
During Covid, one of my friends was really feeling the effects of social distancing. While she did not go out to socialize, she sent out some porch-sitting invites.
She scheduled friends, one at a time, to bring their preference of wine (or coffee/tea), and sit on her outside porch – at an acceptable distance – to just talk. She said that spending an hour or two with someone made her feel so much better.
So go ahead. Reach out to someone that you haven’t talked to in a while and break the ice. It’s a great first step to overcoming your loneliness.
7. Intentional Movement
Your body and mind need physical movement – exercise.
I will always advocate for walking outdoors. You do not have to walk miles or even around the block when you’re just starting. Walk to the mailbox and back. And gradually increase the length and time of each walk. Baby-steps.
But as you’re walking, learn to become intentional – notice what’s going on around you.
- Monitor your breathing. Take some deep breaths – fill your lungs slowly and exhale slowly.
- Take note of the aromas in the air. Can you smell flowers? Approaching rain? Or the dry leaves as Fall sets in.
- Listen to the sounds of the outdoors. Birds chirping, children laughing, or perhaps a train whistle, blowing in the distance.
- Feel the breeze on your face. Notice the humidity.
- See the color of the leaves, the fluffiness of the clouds, or the butterflies flitting from flower to flower
Now bring yourself back to your walk. Are you strolling? Have you picked up your pace? How far did you go?
And don’t forget, ask a friend to walk with you, making this exercise much more fun!
Other Types of Movement
If you can’t walk, you can always move other ways while indoors.
Check out some online yoga or Pilates instruction. Or dance to your favorite tunes.
But if this is too strenuous, make sure that you get up periodically and move. Set an alarm to go off every hour during the day. When it rings, get up and stretch, get a glass of water, or just walk from the sofa to the bed and back.
Some kind of movement is better than not moving at all.
Intentional movement will help to release endorphins and dopamine, which are “happy chemicals”, and in turn, can make you feel happier. And being happy can put you in a better frame of mind, helping to overcome your loneliness.
If lingering loneliness is causing you or a loved one concerns, please seek help from a professional health care provider
>>ACCESS TO THE DREAM LIFE TOOLKIT<<
Don’t forget to sign up for the Dream Life Toolkit. This is where you will find FREE workbooks, guides, journal pages and prompts, and so much more.
You will receive an email with the password to access the toolbox. Once there, make sure to download the Overcome Your Loneliness guide for use with this post.