Good connections and social support are vital to our wellbeing, but with COVID19 causing a disturbance to the way we socialise, people now more than ever are feeling the brunt of loneliness.
2020 was a tough year, and 2021 will be a challenge.
Lockdown without family and boarders being shut down last year prevented people from spending quality time with their loved ones.
The Australian Psychological Society defines loneliness as ‘a feeling of distress people experience when their social relations are not the way they would like. It is a personal feeling of social isolation.’
It is important to recognise the toll loneliness can take on our mental, physical and emotional health. Here are a few tips for helping you to get through this tough time. For further help or assistance please contact Life Line Australia.
Ditch the FOMO
Are you caught in the FOMO cycle? Endlessly scrolling your socials and seeking out the carefully curated images that make up your feed is bound to trigger FOMO big time.
You are not alone, with studies showing nearly three-quarters of young adults reporting they experienced the phenomenon. Putting down the phone and taking the time to feel gratitude has been shown to reduce feelings of loneliness and have an overall positive effect on health and wellbeing.
Try writing down three things you are grateful for in a notebook daily.
Messaging or calling a friend or family member can help to ease feelings of loneliness. Alternatively, writing a letter to a friend can sometimes help to communicate how you have been feeling, what you have been up to and what you are looking forward to- it’s time to bring back the old-school pen pal.
In 2018, the Harvard Medical School published an article on ‘Writing as an antidote to loneliness’, detailing how writing provides a rewarding means of exploring and expressing feelings, which can lead to a clearer mind and happier life.
If you don’t want to share your feelings with a friend, pen pal or family member, journaling can be a great way to write out your feelings without fear of judgement. You may prefer to free write for 5-10 minutes and just see what comes up, or use a journaling prompt to steer your entry in a certain direction.
One Eighty is a registered charity founded in 2017 which holds bi-weekly online discussion spaces, where participants can chat and connect with other young people, sharing their experience. You can join a Monday or Wednesday Open Up session, held over Zoom by registering here.
This free local peer support program was developed after the group identified a gap in the mental health care sector. Seeing this gap they created a time and space for young people to practice skills of sharing, listening, connecting with others, and asking for help.
Health psychologist Dr. Kelly McGonigal explains exercise makes us happier by lowering stress levels, reducing feelings of loneliness and isolation, and helping people relieve anxiety and depression, among other benefits.
This exercise-induced “endorphin rush,” can help nip loneliness in the bud by fostering feelings of positivity and motivation. Online or in-person group classes are a great way to connect and work out at the same time.
It’s normal to feel loneliness from time to time. Dr. Karyn Hall writes “Many lonely people believe they are unique in their situation and that it’s not normal to feel as lonely as they do. Yet everyone feels lonely at times.”
Accepting loneliness as part of the human condition may be the first step towards connecting.
Hall writes “there is no one idea or one path to move from loneliness to contentment, but there are general ideas that seem to work. A first step seems to be acceptance without judgment.”