People are social and desire to make connections and be with other people. So, with new waves of lockdowns, mandates, and isolation coming up, how do we get used to feeling comfortable being alone without being lonely?
This even extends to people who are working from home, the interaction around the office water cooler is gone.
Even the most introverted people are feeling a bit lonely. But, a few practices can help you be more comfortable being alone without feeling lonely.
Moving your body and building muscle is a fabulous way to keep your body and mind healthy. One of the first recommendations for depression and anxiety is to get more exercise. Research found mild exercise can help reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety as much if not more than medication.
Exercise can be as simple as going for a walk, getting outside, and breathing the fresh air. And as long as the gyms stay open, finding a structured exercise class can put you in touch with other people, giving you a sense of community and belonging while helping your mind and body be strong.
Spend Time In Nature
Building off that exercise, getting out and walking around in nature helps achieve the same goal. The feel of grass, the rustling of leaves, and sunshine all positively impact your mood and hormone levels.
Being in nature also inspires a sense of connection to something greater, helping fulfill the need to be with others without actually having someone else around. The connection can delve into the metaphysical world, but a simpler explanation is we become happier being outside.
Learn A New Skill & Communicate Online
Many people had the goal of learning a new language or skill during the lockdowns. Classes for new skills and educational experiences abound, many of them free. Learning a new skill can help alleviate boredom and anxiety by focusing your attention on something constructive.
Additionally, forums, social media, and community boards can give you a sense of connection to other people learning the same skill. The mentorship and fellowship can give you the interaction to help you feel less lonely. Simply knowing you are not alone in learning a new skill is a big help.
The practice of gratitude emerged in all cultures, giving thanks for what you have. Amazingly simple to do, the simple words 'thank you' when somebody does something for you can create a huge connection.
Regular practice of reflecting on what you have and are grateful for can help alleviate stress and anxiety over what you don't have. Some people write it out in a journal; others mentally recite what is positive and good for the day.
It's also backed by science that it can help alleviate depression and isolation. In addition, some studies show gratitude practice can resolve mild forms of depression and change your mental outlook.
Get Off Social Media & The News
Social media and following news stories contribute to depression, anxiety, and isolation despite its intention of bringing people together.
Social media is a distilled look at people's lives in their most perfect state. Comparing yourself to the stories and images online can make you feel like your life isn't as good. Watching as others go out and socialize while you are at home can make you feel more isolated.
But, research has shown that people generally put only the best information online. They will hide small failures, their own feelings of isolation, and the imperfect pictures. For social media, the image of being perfect is more important than the reality of being human.
The news, whether connected to social media or not, focuses on shock value. It will inflate stories to help create fear and isolation.
Both social media and the news rely on the continued shock to create an addiction. As people watch exciting news stories or get likes and follows on social media, the brain releases a small amount of dopamine. You become addicted to this and want more and more.
Breaking away from social media and the news can help re-establish your normal dopamine levels and help put your life back into proper perspective. You can talk with other people and learn their stories naturally, rather than the glamorized social media way.
This isn't easy, but for people with feelings of isolation, mild depression, or anxiety, it can be one of the most significant steps you take to help get your life back under control naturally.
You don't have to try all of these steps at once. Doing one at a time can help reduce your feelings of isolation and loneliness. Using your alone time to learn about yourself can be the biggest way to overcome your anxieties over being alone.