Isolation and loneliness

Isolation and loneliness

In The History of Loneliness, The New Yorkers’ Jill Lepore likens the modern loneliness epidemic to the obesity epidemic: It’s a symptom of our modern lifestyles, it’s having a negative effect on our health and it’s becoming more prevalent.

What is it to be lonely?

It’s not about being alone. One can be surrounded by others and still feel utterly isolated. It’s about not feeling at home even when you’re at your house. It’s feeling like nobody understands or sees you.

It can also differ according to your circumstances. Psychology Today has identified no less than seven types of loneliness.

We were already pretty lonely before the pandemic struck. Social distancing, isolation and quarantines are adding fuel to this gloomy wild fire.

Oh the shame

The feeling of loneliness is often paired with a sense of shame. As if admitting we’re lonely would be admitting we’re unlovable. This makes it so much harder to reach out to others, the thing we’re craving most.

Add to the mix social media that gives us a connection quick-fix without really providing the deep and meaningful connection we crave.

Reach out and touch faith

I went through a seriously lonely period last year and didn’t even identify it as such. The only things I found helpful was journaling every thought and feeling and telling every caring person I know that I wasn’t okay. The first helped me to see and understand myself. The latter opened the door for the people who I love to show up for me. I could never have anticipated how much they would show up for me and I’m so unbelievably grateful for it.

If you’re feeling it right now I encourage you to call someone. Not text or email, but call. Or schedule a zoom meeting. With a family member, friend or therapist.

Thriving in isolation

Different personality types have taken on isolation in different ways. Some are thriving while others want to have a nap until they can go outside again (I’m one today and the other tomorrow).

The tips from Astronaut Scott Kelly on how he survived a year in space are a great help:

  • Follow a schedule – Set up a structure for yourself and plan your days so you know when you’re working and when you’re relaxing
  • Pace yourself – Don’t be too hard on yourself and schedule in time for fun and relaxation. A consistent bedtime will do wonders (if you can’t sleep try counting to 60 seven times)
  • Go outside / look out the window – These astronauts were playing bird and mosquito sounds to themselves to remind them of home. Luckily you have real birds and mosquitos to listen to. Remember to look at the sky at least three times a day
  • You need a hobby – A recreational activity that doesn’t involve maintaining your environment (so washing the dishes doesn’t count? Damn)
  • Keep a journal – All the days are melting into one. Write down your thoughts, feelings and activities so you can look back at this time and potentially write a best-selling memoir
  • Take time to connect – Talking to at least one other person every day needs to be as important as eating and exercising. Make time for a video call or phone call (conversations with cashiers don’t count unless you can tell them your dreams and fears)
  • Listen to experts – We need to trust and rely on the experts right now. Don’t trust everything you see on Whatsapp without checking up on it first
  • We are all connected – This is a global crisis and we’re not alone. People all over the world are hunkered down in their homes right this second. There is some comfort in that.

Read the whole piece here: I Spent a Year in Space, and I Have Tips on Isolation to Share

I’ve found great solace in creative projects like mood boards, making tik toks and this self-portrait shoot I did over the weekend. I’d highly recommend sticking flowers on your face with Vaseline if you need a pick-me-up 😉

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