Feeling isolated? How to tackle loneliness.
Staying connected with the wider world, and avoiding feelings of stress, isolation, and loneliness can be a challenge at the best of times, but – for many of us – trying to navigate our way through the Covid-19 pandemic has really taken things next-level.
There’s no easy answers, but here’s some tips that we’ve been trying in an effort to hold it all together.
Use the technology
Your phone unlocks a world of communication and interaction.
Even if you don’t have friends or family close-by or in the same time-zone, online communication can help you to stay connected and in touch with the people you care about and your wider support network.
Even if you can’t meet in person, or your local queer spaces aren’t available, you can still chat with guys, have a few virtual dates, or join in online chatrooms to keep yourself entertained.
An online dating app such as Gaydar is free to join and provides lots of social opportunities beyond hook-ups and dating.
Don’t beat yourself up about being by yourself or isolated
Whatever is going on in the world, there’s lots of things that are beyond our control.
It’s okay to feel angry, upset, and frustrated but try and channel that into something productive.
Where possible, stay calm and focus on the facts.
If you feel your anxiety rising, try and identify and articulate those emotions. Take a break from what you’re doing, go for a shower, do some sit-ups, masturbate – something to take your mind off the frustrations of being isolated.
When it feels like the world is spinning out of control, it can be tempting to go on a bit of a bender, but that can go badly wrong if you’re by yourself and not in the best head-space.
If you feel yourself heading to a bit of a low-point, drugs or alcohol aren’t going to make you feel better – they’ll only accelerate you spiralling out of control.
Be proactive – remove the temptations and activate your support networks to help get you back on track.
Staying in is the new going out
What will you post on Instagram if you’re not going out and living it large? Set yourself some challenges to entertain yourself and your followers.
Maybe it’s a make-up look that you’ve been wanting to try? Why not run an online poll about some of your more controversial wardrobe choices? Maybe this is the time to start a fan-subscription channel and unleash your inner-exhibitionist?
Think about what’s making you lonely
It’s important to distinguish being by yourself as opposed to feeling alone or lonely. Some people are really happy with their own company, and enjoy a bit of space from the rest of the world, while for others that might leave them feeling isolated and vulnerable.
Try and articulate your emotions and try to pinpoint what might be triggering them. Are you feeling lonely because you don’t see or talk to other people enough? Or are you feeling lonely because you feel that the people around you don’t understand you?
Make new connections
Whatever might be triggering your feelings of loneliness, one of the best ways to tackle it is to take some action. Find ways to interact with people, or find ways to connect with people who might understand you a bit better.
This could be joining a community group, taking a class, volunteering with a charity, or joining a sports club.
If you’re not feeling confident about meeting people face-to-face, there’s lots of online options – such as Gaydar.
One of the weird things about loneliness is that even if you’re surrounded by people, you might still feel lonely. You might be spending time with your family, but if you feel that your family don’t really know you, or don’t really understand what you’re going through or experiencing, then this can feel very isolating.
The best remedy is to try and find a way to express your feelings. If you can’t connect with anyone in your family, reach out to friends, or online contacts. If that’s not possible, try writing about your emotions, or finding another creative outlet so that you’re not bottling everything up inside.
Take it slow
Don’t expect instant miraculous change. If you’re feeling lonely, it can take a while to work through that – it can take a while for you to build connections with others.
Make small steps. Set yourself small goals to accomplish each day. If you join a chatroom and don’t immediately find someone to talk to, don’t be discouraged – try a different one tomorrow.
Keep trying new things until you find what works for you.
Be careful when comparing yourself to others
Social media platforms – such as Instagram – can be a great way to keep in touch with your friends and to follow other people’s aspirational adventures. It’s important that you’re not comparing yourself to anyone else – especially people on the internet who you’ve never met.
The thing about social media is that most people are presenting the absolute best version of themselves, or the person that they’d like to be. It’s not necessarily what they’re really doing – they don’t always look so glamorous, they don’t always feel so great. Everyone has their highs and lows.
Check how you are feeling
When you’re feeling lonely, or at an emotional low, things can quickly spiral out of perspective.
Try and check-in with yourself. Make notes to try and understand what might be influencing or triggering how you’re feeling. Did you sleep well? Have you eaten? Have you had some exercise? Have you reached out to speak with someone?
Give yourself a checklist of things to do to keep your day on track.
Get some help
Don’t let your isolation become a barrier that prevents you from asking for help.
If you’re feeling vulnerable, or if you just need some advice or guidance, there’s lots of organisations and helplines out there who you can access by telephone or online.
Just talking to a friend or someone you know can be a big help in staying focused on moving forward and staying connected with the world around you.
Read others’ stories
It can be really helpful to realise that you’re not the only person who struggles with feeling alone or lonely.
There’s lots of blogs and books and podcasts from people talking about their personal experiences, their highs and lows, and how they’ve tried to manage their struggles.
Hearing how other people have tackled things can help to give you confidence that you’re on the right track.
People aren’t mind readers
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
If you’re looking at your phone and wondering why you’re not being flooded with messages, why not take the first step and reach out to the people that you know?
Is there some way that you can help your friends and family?
Feeling a bit isolated doesn’t have to make us victims, but it does mean we’ve got to be a bit proactive and a bit innovative.