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How to handle feelings of loneliness when social distancing

Here are some steps you can take to tackle loneliness during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in news


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Loneliness is about feeling separate from others. It might include a feeling of being abandoned or ignored, or a sense of being alone in the world. While we are all social distancing during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, feelings of loneliness may come up.

However, there are steps you can take to counter feelings of loneliness.

Why do I have to practice social distancing?

The Government has asked us to help slow the spread of COVID-19/Coronavirus by limiting contact between people. It’s important for everyone to practice social distancing, not just high risk people (the elderly and people with underlying health conditions) or people who are seriously ill, as people can carry the virus without showing symptoms. You can help your friends, family and community through social distancing.

Read our article on how social distancing saves lives to learn more.

Feeling alone when self distancing 

In our current situation, where we are choosing not to make unnecessary contact with others, it is normal to experience feelings of loneliness, especially when your daily routine has been completely changed and you may not be going to school, college or work.

You may currently be living at home with your parents or living with your partner, friends or roommates. You may be living in a full house but are separated from those you normally confide in, the people who make you laugh or the people who you feel most comfortable to be yourself around. It is normal to feel lonely even when surrounded by others, even though those that you are with might find that difficult to understand.

If you are lonely, you might:

  • Feel sad
  • Feel that you miss those who you are closest to in life
  • Feel that no one understands why you feel lonely at home
  • Feel lonely even when you are surrounded by other people

How to manage feeling lonely while social distancing?

The situation that we are in now is completely new to all of us and it will take time for us to figure out how to make our living arrangements work best for us. Finding ways to overcome loneliness can include things you do yourself, and finding things to do with other people, even if that may be via the internet.

Here are some things to try if you are feeling lonely.

Relaxation

Relaxation techniques such as writing in a journal or diary, listening to music, yoga or meditation can help you learn to relax when alone. Take a bath, or a long shower and try to appreciate the free time that you now have to focus on self-care.

Exercise

Exercise not only benefits your physical and mental health, but it also improves your overall mood and happiness.There are plenty of exercises you can do at home, like yoga, pilates or weight training (if you have weights at home). There are videos on YouTube which can show you how to get started with these exercises.

Some people are now live streaming yoga classes, pilates classes, home workouts, meditations and more on social media. You can watch the live stream and follow along at home. This is a nice way to get exercise, while also feeling part of a wider community and connected with others logging in.

Reach out to others

Currently, all of us are in the same situation where we cannot spend time with people outside of our households. Although we cannot physically hang out with other people, we are lucky to have access to the internet and to be able to message and video call people whenever we want.

If you are working from home try chatting to your colleagues as you would do normally in the office. All your conversations do not have to be work related and it can make a difference to other people’s days by asking them how they are and how they are finding the current situation.

Get involved online

Many organisations and businesses are starting to move their work online to give people the opportunity to get involved and stay involved. If you find an organisation or group you’re interested in getting involved with, drop them an email or call them and see if they have online opportunities. Volunteer Ireland has information about volunteering opportunities across Ireland.

SpunOut.ie’s volunteering opportunities are all possible to do from home. We’re always interested in articles from young people across Ireland as well as your thoughts on the content we create for the site. Find out more about getting involved or check out some of our recent content call outs. Share your story on:

Support your family

This can be a difficult time for many people, so it’s important to check in with your family and see if there is any way you can support each other. Take some time to talk to each other throughout the day, help with tasks around the house, and arrange some fun or relaxing things you can do together in the house, or online if you’re not living together. Parents and guardians may be worrying about the situation and how it affects their families, so check in with them and see if there is anything you can do to support them.

Reach out to friends

Instead of waiting for people to contact you, reach out to friends or people you know and ask if they'd like to have a video call to catch up. Try your best to stay in touch and check in with them regularly. With social distancing, people are trying new ways to stay in touch with each other, so now is a great time to link in with the people in your life. There are loads of games and apps online that you can play with friends without having to be with each other, look around and find the one that work best for you.

Spending time with your partner

Many young people are in the situation where they live at home with their parents, which means they are social distancing from their boyfriend or girlfriend. During this time you may be unable to see your partner and miss them a lot. This is completely normal, as being separated from the people you care about is hard but there are little things you can do with your partner to help feel close while spending time apart. Calling and video calling is a great way to stay connected, as is choosing to do activities together. Reading the same book or watching the same movie can give you things to discuss together and help you to feel closer during this time.

If you are separated from your boyfriend or girlfriend during this time and would like to give advice to other young people on how to handle the situation, get in touch and write for us.

Spend time doing things that interest you

As you may have more free time now, it’s a chance to check in with yourself and start focusing on things that interest you. You may want to start a new hobby or reconnect with an old one you used to enjoy. Whether it be painting, drawing, reading, learning a language, baking, knitting or anything else, spending time on this a hobby can be a great way to keep your mind and body active. It’s also great for passing the time if you’re finding the days long.

Talk to someone

If you are finding it difficult to deal with the social distancing, the uncertainty of the COVID-19/Coronavirus pandemic, or your feelings of loneliness, don’t be afraid to seek out help and support for it. Read our article on the mental health supports available at this time. 

Talk to someone you trust about how you feel. Sharing your feelings and worries with others can help lessen the loneliness or feeling of isolation you are going through.

If you feel overwhelmed by the current situation and need someone to talk to, our anonymous, 24 hour text line is always open. You're worth talking about and we're here to listen and support you. Text SPUNOUT to 50808. Standard SMS rates may apply.

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Published March 23rd2020
Last updated Sep­tem­ber 18th2020
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.
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