All around the world, there is uncertainty in relation to the restrictions different countries may impose in relation to COVID-19. In some countries, restrictions have been reintroduced, for example Israel entered their second lockdown and England has introduced "local lockdowns" across the nation.

Regardless of where you are, you may be experiencing anxiety about COVID-19 and potentially feeling lonely. I understand that, on the face of it, it seems difficult to combat loneliness in such a situation. However, understanding the following points may help you to cope better with the loneliness you are experiencing as a result of COVID-19:

  • What Is Loneliness
  • The Six Types Of Loneliness
  • Loneliness vs Solitude
  • Strategies: What To Do If You Feel Lonely

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What Is Loneliness

Loneliness is a universal human experience that has existed since the dawn of time, yet it is unique for every individual. It has been difficult for research to define, with many different definitions offered.  For example, in 1988 it was defined as an emotional state in which an individual is aware of the feeling of being apart from another or others, along with the experience of a vague need for individuals, but back in 1976 it was also defined as an unwelcome feeling of lack of companionship and a wish for interaction different from that being experienced.

The 6 Types Of Loneliness

Loneliness may be divided into 6 different types. It has been suggested that not all six must occur, but when two or three occur then people experience "loneliness".

Interpersonal Loneliness

  • This is when a person is socially isolated, or perceives themselves as "cut off" from loved ones. This is probably the most common kind of loneliness.

Social Loneliness

  • This is when a person is excluded, rejected or perceives themselves to be. There is a feeling of disconnection from a group or a community.

Cultural Loneliness

  • Usually when a person feels disconnected from their own culture and therefore feels like they don't belong wherever they are. This can happen when you move to a new country.

Intellectual Loneliness

  • This is when you feel a difference or a lack of connection, on an intellectual level, with others or a group. Usually marked by a sense of missing stimulation. Psychological loneliness

Psychological Loneliness

  • This may occur as a result of trauma or significantly distressing experience, disrupting a person's sense of connection and belongingness.  

Existential/Cosmic Loneliness

  • This is usually in relation to a broader separation to the nature of life, of existing and often, a lack of meaning in life.  This can occur when someone is facing mortality.

Loneliness vs Solitude

It is useful to distinguish between loneliness and solitude as they are not the same thing. Solitude occurs when we welcome being alone, because we have chosen to do it. For example, it may be in order to reflect, plan, or go for a walk. Solitude is refreshing, providing us a respite from our fast-paced and demanding world, and is always welcomed by those who experience it.

Strategies: What To Do If You Feel Lonely

There is no direct replacement for being with your loved ones. However, there are still strategies you can try if you feel lonely:

  1. Communicate with people. Texts, calls, video calls are all great ways to stay in touch. Consider creative ways such as sending postcards and letters, or organizing a quiz.
  2. Get active. In one of our earlier blog posts we discussed the benefits of being physically active. These benefits include improvements in mood and release of endorphins.
  3. Managing challenging emotions. One way to reduce feelings of loneliness, is to practice acceptance and meditation. There are various ways to do this, such as mindfulness, loving-kindness meditation and mantra meditation.
  4. Nature. If it's permitted within your area, you can spend time in and engage with the outdoors, increasing your nature connectedness. Nature connectedness has been shown to alleviate cognitive fatigue, and increase feelings of vitality.
  5. Regular routines. Of course there is no pressure, but creating a routine can help to limit the impact of loneliness. Just like brushing your teeth every night, regularly exercising, staying in touch and meditating can all have benefits.
  6. Volunteering. This may not be an option for everyone, but volunteering during this time may give you a purpose and connect you with people virtually.

These tips are aimed at helping you know what to do if you are lonely. If you would like to further your mental health education, feel free to check out the Pocketcoach app.


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