One of the concerns many people have about the current pandemic is the increase in loneliness as a result of self-isolation or lockdown.
We’re social creatures that rely on one another not just practically and physically, but also emotionally and psychologically. You may currently be experiencing your own feelings of disconnect and isolation and wonder how you can manage over the coming weeks and months. Keep reading to learn how you can alleviate the effects of loneliness.
Strategies often suggested
- Make and keep to a schedule
- Our physical and mental health are intertwined. Make time to exercise, get regular sleep, and eat well
- Schedule regular virtual catch-ups with friends and family
- It's also OK to have less contact/interaction on some days
- If you’re open to chatting with someone completely new, register for Quarantine Chat
- Join a facebook group, a forum or an online class
- Try some comforting self-care practices
- Practice being kind to yourself, living in a pandemic is hard!
- While you can’t replace physical contact, you can explore touching your body in non-sexual, or sexual, ways!
- Reduce anxiety by playing some music, the TV or use a white noise app
- Make plans for what you can look forward to when the self-isolation period is over
Below you will find three common blocks (barriers and misconceptions) that can prevent us from feeling connected during this time of physical distancing.
I don’t have anyone to talk to at home
Self-isolation is hard for anyone, but it can be especially difficult if you’re already feeling lonely and disconnected. We understand that being in isolation can intensify feelings of loneliness. It can also lead us to feel more cut off from people, sometimes more than the actual reality. It can be helpful to identify the people in your life with whom you can reach out and reconnect.
I want to stop feeling lonely
It can be a useful first step to separate being alone and feeling lonely. If you recognise you’re in the process of adjusting to more alone time, you might take a moment to reflect on how you want to use this time. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to be productive though! It’s ok if you want to take the time to just enjoy the slower pace of life.
As human beings we’re social creatures and we benefit on some levels from being with one another. As we practice our physical distancing, it is an uncomfortable but also normal experience to feel lonelier and more removed from your friends, university and broader community. You are not alone in feeling lonely.
My home is not somewhere I feel safe or comfortable
Hopefully for most of us, we live in a home and with people with whom we feel comfortable and safe. For some of us though, being at home with family members, partners, or housemates, can place us at greater risk of physical, emotional or psychological harm. A time such as now, where we are in a period of acute stress and prolonged uncertainty, can increase the risk of harm. Limited options to leave the home and an intensification of feelings such as irritability, anxiety and frustration can leave some people in a vulnerable position. Services working in this support space are well aware of the difficulties and continue to provide services. If your concern relates to a university staff member or peer, you can contact Safer Campus Community. Please refer to the 'Need more info' section for community service contact details.
Below are three things you can do to boost success.
Set up and connect with your social network
Remind yourself life won’t be like this forever
When we’re having a difficult time, it can feel like things won’t get better. It can be helpful to remind yourself that the isolated state we are currently in, while challenging, is temporary. There are a range of strategies you can try to help ease your feelings of loneliness:
- Talk to someone in your social support network
- Practice some self-care in whatever form this looks like for you. Some ideas include, gentle stretching, going for a walk, baking, watching your favourite TV show
- If it helps, try writing down your thoughts and feelings. Some people find this useful to help them to process their experience, while also helping to clear their mind
Maintain connection, self-care and reach out for support
Despite the current level of physical distancing, maintain contact with people in your personal and professional support network in whatever way you can. Continue to take care of yourself both physically and mentally (e.g. regular meals and sleep, follow a routine, do things that help you to feel calm). If needed, contact a professional support service. There are a number of services that are available 24 hours a day.
- If you are in immediate danger, call 000
- Contact 1800RESPECT who offer phone (1800 737 732) and web chat services for anyone experiencing sexual assault, family or domestic violence
- Save the numbers of trusted friends and support services in your phone
- Download Daisy - this is a free app that has information about support services in your local area
- Males who wish to access a specific male service can contact a counsellor at Mensline (1300 789 978)
Need more info?
- 8 free apps to stay connected
- How to beat loneliness
- COVID-19 is coinciding with a loneliness epidemic
Safety at home
- Contact 1800RESPECT who offer phone (1800 737 732) and web chat services for anyone experiencing sexual assault, family or domestic violence.
- Download Daisy - this is a free app that has information about support services in your local area.
- Self-isolation and covid-19 - a resource for those who may be in abusive living arrangements.
- Males who wish to access a specific male service can contact a counsellor at Mensline (1300 789 978).
- Don't forget to look at our pages on Relationships.