The COVID-19 pandemic really made us realize that without our family, friends, and normal routine in general, we can become prone to extreme loneliness and even depression. Many of us were unable to see our families for special occasions, or even at all, depending on the situation; everybody’s lives were uprooted in one way or another. For myself, I was no longer able to enjoy live music, see my family on the holidays, or really live my life how I wanted to. Thankfully, where I live, the restrictions now dictate that I will be able to see my family for the holidays as close contacts, plus live music is starting back up, and I get to see my friends again. However, the feeling of loneliness and isolation aren’t entirely gone for everyone, I myself can feel the claws of loneliness resound through my body some days. So, today we will discuss 5 ways to combat loneliness so that you can banish loneliness, embrace growth, become your best self, and ultimately live your best life.
Sometimes we get so caught up in going through the daily movements that we don’t truly take a moment to identify our feelings and what they mean. In the fight against loneliness, you have to be willing to take a moment to understand how your emotions are working. Are you stressed from taking on more responsibilities at your job? Worried about how you’re going to make it to the grocery store and soccer on time? Or maybe the pandemic is having a larger impact on you than you thought? Either way, once you pause and allow yourself to work through your emotions, you can realize that it’s not work stress or it’s not about worrying about errands; you’re experiencing true feelings of isolation and loneliness. The pandemic has only exacerbated these feelings for many of us, myself included, and it can be challenging to know what to do. However, once you identify your loneliness, you can begin to take steps towards combating it so that you may fire your old self to make way for your new, best self.
One of the best things to do when you’re feeling lonely is to reach out to your family and friends who support you. I know it can be challenging, especially if you feel ashamed for being lonely (like I have), but you will almost always feel better once you talk with someone who cares. Obviously, you don’t even have to tell the person on the other end how you’re feeling, but it is good to have someone you can confide in. I know whenever I have admitted to a family or friend that I was feeling lonely, they always say something that reassures me and puts me in a better mindset. Furthermore, it’s great to reconnect with those you love. Whether it’s a zoom call, FaceTime date, or regular old phone call; reaching out to loved ones is like chicken soup for the lonely soul. Plus, with today’s technology, it is easier than ever to talk with your loved ones in real-time while getting to see their face, expressions, and reactions. Carving out time for positive interactions like this, especially during unprecedented times such as a global pandemic, means that you can combat loneliness and work towards molding your best life.
Another way to get yourself into a fresh mindset and combat feelings of isolation and loneliness is to get your body moving! Being active and moving your body gets the feel-good endorphins flowing and can increase your physical and mental well-being. You can also add a social element to your physical activity, whether that’s meeting a friend for a walk or joining a new gym with scheduled classes. For me, I try to walk my dogs 4-5 times a week, work out 2-3 times a week, and rollerblade at least once a week in the summertime. Even though sometimes I don’t necessarily feel like working out at first, it does help me reconnect and re-align myself with my goals while giving me a dedicated time for ‘me.’ Another thing that I (somewhat) like to do to get the blood pumping is go run stairs with my best friend, depending on the weather. I’ll bring my dogs, and when I’m getting tired, I’ll tell her to go run some more while I get my dogs some water (LOL). Ultimately, finding a way to enjoy being active is essential, and if you can integrate it with social time all the better so that you can avoid loneliness and love the life you live.
I’m pretty sure all lists of how to battle loneliness will include the suggestion of getting a companion pet. Probably because pets really do wonders to combat loneliness and bring us a sense of fulfillment, love, and comfort. In fact, my dogs are lying beside me as I write these words. More to the point, they are there for me furever (yikes, see what I did there), through the good or bad. For example, the other day, my dog was licking my tears while I was having a bit of a cry. It was so sweet; he was like, “I know you’re feeling bad, but maybe my stinky kisses can help??” By the way, they did help; in fact, they made me laugh. On another note, getting a pet can give you a renewed sense of purpose – there is something that solely relies on you for its quality of life. You are in charge of making sure it’s fed, exercised, properly trained, bathed… loved – many things. Not to mention, you guys get to be new best friends for life, which is probably the best part, in my opinion. I think getting a pet is on every list because it is an excellent way to combat loneliness, renew your sense of purpose in life, and begin to grow towards truly embracing your best self.
If you’re not sure that the commitment of a pet is right for you, then try new things to step out of your comfort zone instead. Right now, more than ever, virtual clubs and groups are thriving. If you already have a hobby that you enjoy, perhaps see if there is an online forum or club where you can discuss all of your favorite things among your new friends. Or, you could take up a completely new hobby and see where that takes you. I understand that joining a new club or group can be scary, but the uncomfortable parts of life are where all the growth happens. When you start a positive movement, like putting yourself out there in a new club, you open yourself up to positive return; maybe you meet a new friend for life or a romantic partner at this activity. Or, perhaps you just have so much darn fun that you no longer feel as lonely as before because you look forward to your specific social time – whether it’s face-to-face or virtual. I would never say go crazy when trying to leave your comfort zone; start small and work your way up. For example, you could invite a new neighbor over for a tea and get to know them better. For some, that would be stepping way outside their comfort zone, while for others, that’s a regular Tuesday afternoon. Whatever leaving your comfort zone looks like to you, it’s crucial to try and step outside of your box and stay open to growth while molding your new, best self.
No one wants to feel lonely or even depressed, so let’s take action to combat these emotions so that we can live our best lives. While the pandemic has made things challenging, we have time to identify our feelings properly, and it has become increasingly easy to connect with loved ones virtually when we need to. Our pets are also big factors in helping our mental health and keeping us company when we feel lonely. Furthermore, adding things into your routine, such as taking up a new hobby or moving your body, can be instrumental in banishing loneliness and replacing it with a positive mindset. Ultimately, integrating these techniques to combat loneliness is crucial so that we may “Fire” our “Old Self” to create “Our NEW SELF” while remembering Life’s Short, Love the Life You Live!