There is no doubt that this year of isolation during the pandemic has had a toll on young and old alike—universally, we all feel a bit lonely. Unfortunately, this doesn’t just affect our mood—we now know from studying the elder population that loneliness and isolation also have a negative effect on our health and longevity. Research has shown that people who feel lonely or isolated are at increased risk for developing coronary artery disease, stroke, depression, high blood pressure, declining thinking skills, an inability to perform daily living tasks, depression, and an early death. Feeling lonely doesn’t have to be your path forward.
First, we need to understand the difference between “feeling lonely” and “feeling alone”. The difference is a mix of attitude, lifestyle habits, and life context. Inevitably, we are all alone. We are alone with our thoughts, feelings, body sensations, and experiences. What we do with our aloneness is what creates feelings of loneliness or self-comfort.
However you get to a state of feeling lonely, we are here to help. Here is a collection of 7 suggestions to consider that directly affect your health and happiness day to day as well as your lifespan and healthspan.
1. Connect Meaningfully
Connect with family, friends, and even strangers. Taking the courage to reach out, keeps us moving towards others rather than shying away. Whether by phone, via video chat, or even by talking with your neighbors across the fence or a stranger in a park, know that doing so builds confidence and a sense of deservedness to belong to all of humanity.
2. Be Thankful
Loneliness can lead us to focus on ourselves and our hardships. Aim to express appreciation toward friends, family, strangers, and personally through ‘gratitude practices’.
3. Focus on what you can change
Spending time dwelling on our or the world’s current struggles can perpetuate helplessness which leads to disempowerment and loneliness. Consider focusing your attention on something that is within your sphere of influence, or taking a small step towards making a change to empower yourself.
4. Enjoy “being” while “doing”
Whether completing a chore, doing something creative, or going for a walk, savor your experience in order to live it fully. When we do the world feels fuller and we feel more connected to it.
5. Remove negativity
Consider taking a break from the news, or at least limiting your consumption.
6. Be kind, understanding, and patient
Work on treating yourself and others with compassion. Did you know the act of smiling can actually make you feel better?
Develop a routine that provides balance: Create a daily plan that includes physical activity (ideally out of doors whenever possible), time for connecting with loved ones, a creative pursuit, and something pleasurably relaxing (warm bath with essential oils, candlelight yoga, reading something inspiring).
7. Seek help
We may live alone and feel like we need to talk deeply with someone who can help us if we are in a place of confusion or uncertainty. Counseling Therapists and Life Coaches are available to support us even online.
We live in a very fast-paced world with lots of stressors and distractions. It’s hard for us to believe we can enjoy being alone, as we’ve wired our brain, nervous system, and hormonal balance for constant stimulation. Whether we live alone or in a busy household, taking time daily to be with ourselves is critical for balanced mental and emotional health. It allows us to slow down enough to notice how we are feeling, and what kinds of thoughts we are generating or obsessing about. We only truly get to know who we are and what our deepest needs are when we stop, breathe, and become curious. The more we practice this noticing or mindfulness, the more comfortable we can be in our own skin whether we live alone or with others.
What is Mountain Trek?
Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning hiking-based health program, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress, anxiety, and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out below: