Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Ease Loneliness During the Pandemic
Across the world, most countries are battling COVID-19 in part through social distancing. While many health experts advise that this approach helps shield us from contracting this illness, it has led many of us to either develop loneliness or experience a worsened sense of loneliness than before this all began.
Studies have demonstrated that when we use mindfulness skills such as acceptance and improved awareness of our thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and experiences, we are more likely to enhance social connection and positive feelings we have towards ourselves, and thereby diminish loneliness. Here are some practical ways to use mindfulness to decrease your experience of loneliness:
1. Be as Present as Possible in Social Interactions
The quality of your social interactions are paramount to how good you feel. When you are only partly focused and engaged in a social endeavor, the person/people with whom you are connecting can often notice it, and on some level, you notice it too.
Focus your attention, then, on being as consistently present and engaged in your interpersonal endeavors, as this will reduce your feeling of loneliness and improve your sense of connection, love, and support.
2. Be Understanding to Your Feelings of Loneliness
I’m working with many people who feel tremendous shame for not having more meaningful connections in their lives, now that they all could greatly benefit from such connections.
This kind of shame and self-blame is profoundly limiting, though; it only serves to cause us more pain and the experience of being stuck at a time when we could all use more happiness and improvement.
So, try to notice any such limiting shame and self-blame, and then let it go. You could do this by acknowledging that everyone gets lonely, and many -- if not most -- people are currently feeling lonely. Once you’ve better recognized and embraced your loneliness, it’s much easier to then combat other difficult and limiting aspects of your loneliness.
3. Recognize the Truth About Your Thoughts
It’s easy for us to feel an intense emotion, such as loneliness, and believe this emotion defines us, and that we’ll feel it forever. You want to acknowledge, though, that these beliefs aren’t true.
Specifically, our thoughts aren’t always factual and we are defined by so much more than our current thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and experiences.
When you’re mindful, you bring attention to your current thoughts and feelings. You’re curious about them. You start to distinguish between evidence-based facts and untrue statements your mind is trying to convince you to believe.
When you notice your negative thinking state early on, it’s much easier to dispute it, and replace it with healthier thoughts and beliefs, and therefore similarly desirable emotions.
4. Hold Yourself Accountable for Your Own Joy and Social Satisfaction
There’s so much that’s out of our control at a time like this. One of the best things you can do is try to accept that, as well as to better recognize and engage in endeavors that you can control that make you feel less lonely, happier, and more socially connected to others.
I recommend motivating yourself to find even small, and meaningful, ways to have fulfilling, satisfying social interactions, and then notice how good it feels each time you do so.
I can help you significantly reduce your feelings of loneliness, and replace it with feelings of satisfaction, joy, and happiness through a telehealth session through a HIPAA compliant video or phone session.
Give me a call and we'll discuss how I can help. Jordan Zipkin, LMFT, at 954-391-5305