Dubai: The feeling of loneliness is frequently associated with a lack of purpose in life. The University Of California San Diego School Of Medicine discovered that fact while they were observing adults living in senior living or retirement communities.
But it’s not just senior citizens who feel alone. Loneliness hits you when you’re young and successful. When you have lots of friends and a poppin’ Instagram. It can creep up on you.
And now to make things worse, we are living in a pandemic and have no choice but to be home, alone sometimes. And now we all share the same dreadful possibility of not just a weekend alone, but weeks and maybe even months at home.
The good news is, literally almost everyone on earth is going through the same thing. We are all home, if we are lucky enough to have a home, and we are dealing with being away from friends, school, work and our favourite hobbies, activities and rituals.
So how should you deal with loneliness at home during quarantine?
Step 1: Before anything else, adjust your mindset
Loneliness is a feeling, not a fact. The feeling of loneliness is mainly in your mind. If you are someone who knows how to be content and enjoy your own company without others around, then you are off to a great start. You should definitely allow yourself to feel the emotions when they hit you, but it is best not to dwell on the negative, because then you go from simply feeling something, to torturing yourself by heightening those bad feelings and dwelling on them for longer than you should.
Have you ever been in a really sad mood, then listened to super sad music, so you can wallow even longer. Well, according to Jennifer L. Taitz, a Clinical Psychologist, it is better not to do that. Don’t torture yourself, because all that does is waste your time and bring you down.
Step 2: Find “meaning” in your quarantine life
Most people who feel lonely, usually don’t feel like they have a purpose in life, whether that’s a career they love, a spouse they can cherish or a pet that they feel responsible for. Chances are, even without quarantine, you might have still gone through the “What do I want to do with my life?” “What am I passionate about?” etc. So right now, if you’re missing a “real” thing to live for, then try and live for yourself. Make YOU the purpose of this quarantine. Find three to four habits that you want to form or things that you wish to change about yourself and start implementing them. For fear of sounding like your mother, you need to start implementing healthy and happy habits like daily exercises (I started doing one hour of yoga every day and it has changed me) , self-care like taking care of your skin, hair, nails, and using this time to completely organize your space.
Make it a goal to come out of this quarantine as a better and healthier version of yourself.
Step 3: Connect with as many people as you can
Remember that famous Harvard study that documented the lives of 268 students for over 80 years to find out how to live a happy life? Well the answer to who was happiest and lived the longest was “Human Connection.” Embracing your community, sitting with your family, talking to your friends and having a good relationship with your romantic partner were all very powerful factors in being happy, healthy and living a long life. The people who were the most satisfied in their relationships at age 50 were the healthiest at age 80.
And since we can’t exactly connect physically with people, host parties or go out to dinner, then we have to make an extra effort to connect with others. Call them, text them, video chat them. Ask about people you’ve not heard from in years and reach out to your elderly, if you know or have any grandparents. Now is the time when people are craving human connection the most. Don’t disconnect.
Step 4: But don’t use people as your loneliness “treatment”
Ironically, if you only try to cure loneliness by constantly being around other people, this strategy will not work out in the long run, because in this case you are depending on others to take your loneliness away. What you need to do instead is to create a list of activities that you can do alone. Learn to enjoy yourself without having to depend on others for your happiness. Great things to do alone and in the comfort of your own home can include: Making a puzzle, playing games on your phone, knitting, painting, writing and so much more. The goal is to distract from the loneliness in a healthy way, rather than a co-dependent way.
Step 5: Focus on the wonders of your body and less on your lonely thoughts
I can spend all day thinking about myself and my loneliness and the hopelessness of it all. Or I can wake up and feel thankful that I am not sick. That I am breathing properly and that I have energy to get out of bed, eat well and move without any pain. That is more fun, even if you sometimes have to remind yourself, it’s important not to take things for granted.
I know it’s hard to control your thoughts. If we were able to do that perfectly, we’d all excel in life and be super rich at some point. But we are human, and we let emptions get in the way of us living our lives. The more you can control your thoughts and emotion, the better off you are directing your energy on more productive and useful things. When you notice your thoughts drifting towards your loneliness, actively push them away and put your focus on literally anything else.
Step 6: Get into reading or audiobooking
The phrase: “use it or lose it” actually applies to the brain. When you use your brain to actively read, rather than passively watching a show, it helps keep your brain sharp. Reading also opens the doors to a new world. You get to live in a different world temporarily and put yourself in the shoes of different characters. It also keeps your thoughts from wandering. Reading every day should be one of these habits that you form during this self-isolation period and bring with you into normal life.
Step 7: If all else fails, talk to a professional
Well, due to the fact that most people are stuck at home during this pandemic time, some Psychologists are offering their services for free. You can now seek free-of-charge mental health consultation online, particularly with UAE-based VPS Healthcare in collaboration with India’s psycho-social rehabilitation centre, Cadambam. They have started a 24/7 online mental health consultation service for all UAE expatriates.
The online service will have experienced pyschologists who handle cases related to medicine addiction, child and adoloscent psychiatry, geriatric and adult psychiatry help UAE residents deal with the stress they may be currently undergoing.
Additionally, the Hundred Wellness Centre in the UAE have now launched virtual homeopathic therapy sessions lead by Dr. Sean and Dr. Ryan Penny, online psychotherapy treatment with Asmaa Kadry, and psychologist Devika Mankani, as well as the centre’s signature Pilates classes. The online appointments are now offered at a discounted rate, to ensure that everyone has access to help when they need it.