Do you feel alone or lonely these days?
Well, for many people we are going either into Day 1, Week 1, Week 4 or more under a “Shelter in Place” order by our Governors across the United States and for many abroad where the entire countries in Europe and beyond are also indoors — staying put to slow down a virus and save lives. For now, we are all in this together — but on our own. Meaning, you are basically with who you live with — no more, no less.
This may mean a houseful of people, a couple and a child, a couple, or one person on her own. Regardless of who you are at home with these days, it can be difficult. Even if you are an introvert, it may be easier to be home in isolation with yourself or others, but when it is not a choice it can be difficult for you as well.
Thus begs the question in these days whether we feel alone or lonely. Sometimes we can feel both.
To be alone is not necessarily a bad state to be in. How often do we yearn for time to be alone with our thoughts or to spend time exactly as we want to spend it without concern for others. Being alone opens a gateway to engaging with one’s self without any distractions. To be alone can be wonderful.
To be lonely is an entirely different matter. Loneliness can make one feel empty and unwanted and may also lead to depression. Being alone is not a time to recharge, but rather time to move into a low place of feeling about one’s self. In these times of “sheltering in place” many people are not only alone, but are also feeling lonely. And even if you are not alone as you are living with your family, you can feel utterly lonely.
Normally one of the antidotes to loneliness is to reach out and be with others. However, in our current circumstances that is near impossible. So, how do we combat loneliness during these extraordinary times?
- Pose the question to yourself — are you alone, lonely or both?
- If you are alone, but not feeling lonely, relish this time. Follow your bliss at home and enjoy the time to recharge alone and/or with your family.
- If you are feeling lonely, whether alone or living with others, this is a natural feeling when so much of life has changed and there is forced time to be at home. Ask yourself if you are feeling empty and unwanted? What is this time bringing up for you? Use the feeling of loneliness to learn more about yourself.
- From there, think about what you can do to bring yourself out of your lonely state. Although we are in our homes, we are encouraged to go outside and take walks in nature which may help you place yourself in the larger world. Indulge in taking care of yourself at a very high level indulging in things that make you feel good, perhaps a salt bath or a vigorous workout, a favorite show or book to tune into, or a favorite song that will move you to dance.
- Of course, connection is key as we are humans and desire to connect with one another. If you are feeling lonely, even as you are living with your family, make time to connect with them in meaningful ways. If you are alone, make video call dates with family and friends. I have also heard of on-line classes taking place where people are making things together or working out together. You may want to look into activities that can be done together on-line. Make sure to keep connecting each day.
To be alone is not synonymous with feeling lonely. During this time of “shelter in place” check in with yourself often to see how you are feeling and make sure to move to take care of yourself during this time. You may be alone or feel alone, but you can combat the feeling of loneliness if you continue to check in and ask yourself what you need in the here and now moment.
My hope is each of us will use this time to nurture ourselves — learning about how we react to such times internally and what we move to do externally to care well for ourselves.