In the last year, most of us experienced loneliness in a way that we perhaps never had before. For some, living alone was terrible and frightening, for others being quarantined with their children and partners brought to the surface cracks, strains and disconnections in those relationships.
So what is loneliness? The UCLA Loneliness Scale looks at factors like feeling a lack of companionship, feeling left out, a feeling of being out of step or not in tune with the people around you, feeling shy and if there are people that you can turn to. The scale acknowledges that there is a quality to connection(s) that contributes to a feeling of loneliness, not necessarily a quantity.
Having to lean heavily on online sources for connection caused depression and anxiety to increase exponentially during COVID and introverts and extroverts alike where cut off or restricted from their typical sources of connection.
We have faced loneliness at work, at home with friends and families. FOMO (fear of missing out) seemed to take on a new quality as people were worried about gathering but equally feared the possibility of being left behind in their relationships.
What seemed most noticeable was the inability to ignore things that had long been avoided like addictions, trauma and real fissures in relationships. It seemed as our distractions and rush to be as busy as humanly possible was stripped away, our ability to outrun our shadows got a lot harder.
What’s the cure?
With an understanding that you can’t change what you don’t acknowledge…. Admitting that you’re lonely seems like the first logical step. After that, things seem to get a bit more complicated. It isn’t possible for one relationship to meet all of our needs, that can’t be our expectation. And we don’t want to give up on relationships prematurely.
Here are some questions worth asking:
- When is the last time I reached out to someone, even just to hangout? Though this can be difficult for the shy and introverted, it is important to remember that people cannot read you mind and it is unfair to expect them to. If you are lonely, reach out to people you want to connect with.
- When I’m spending time with the people closet to me, do I feel heard and accepted? For many people who are in relationships but still feeling lonely, this is an important missing piece. Too often we don’t address things in our close relationships and that can leave us feeling lonely.
- What does my selfcare look like? Getting off screens, going outside, moving your body, eating healthy food all contribute to wellbeing. If you can’t remember the last time you went an hour without a screen, make today that day.
As always, I’m here. If you are ready to work on having the life you want, call me and let’s get started!