Loneliness as a subject in counselling sessions has long been a recurring topic, but never more so than now. My online counselling work during lockdown has seen a huge surge in specific work around lockdown living and coping with isolation and resultant loneliness.
Social distancing and self-isolation have resulted in an increased number of people feeling lonely. And it seems it has reinforced the sense of loneliness people have been struggling to deal with whilst also social distancing. Perhaps it is not surprising that people have reported having nightmares, disorientation and sleep issues during this time.
People depend on a routine for good mental health and, when this is disrupted, there is a real chance of mental health issues becoming embedded. Now that the world is showing signs of lifting restrictions, there is a worry there will be large numbers of people with mental health issues as this crisis impacts on their ability to cope with the uncertainty of the world they are re-entering.
There are ways to strengthen our inner selves, to tune in and ask ourselves what we want in these times of unprecedented change. If we listen to our intuition, we can take a different approach – one which is based on information we have gathered by using our awareness.
We can become resourceful and trust in our inner selves, and we can keep our minds free to cope at times of crisis.
Do you talk yourself into loneliness?
In a world which promotes socialising and being ‘present’ and getting noticed on social media, we may have an uncomfortable feeling that we don’t quite measure up. Perhaps we are exhausted from trying to have a happier, better life. Press the pause button and listen to what you say to yourself. Chances are it’s negative. Consciously remind yourself that you ARE ok and doing well, and that you are not alone in what has been an exceptional world event that has changed how we live.
Reframe how you see yourself
Sometimes the way we see ourselves can be traced back to our upbringing or our early childhood. However, if we can become curious about our perception of ourselves and identify the patterns, we can help ourselves to gain some understanding and some control over our lives.
It can be good to have our thinking challenged by someone before our negative thoughts become embedded and all the harder to dislodge. Talking to a good friend or counsellor who is trained to actively listen can help put things in perspective.
Taking one day at a time can make things more manageable. You have had a bad day; look closely as there are likely to be some good things which have taken place. We just have to search and be aware. Tune in and turn up the volume on the positive in your day.
Consider people you know who think highly of you, what is it that they see that you are not noticing in yourself? Ask yourself if your view of yourself a negative one. I often say to my clients “Doing changes the Thinking” – if you DO things the thinking becomes that you CAN continue to do.
Challenge your negative self-talk
When we are aware of our own thoughts, we can challenge them. So, instead of giving in to negative speak, reframe and reinforce your strengths, refuse to allow negativity to live in your head, do your best and feel good that you are not giving in to the uncertainty and impact of these difficult times. Remember, this too shall pass.