Like many people, I live alone. Before the pandemic, I rarely felt lonely as I got together with family and friends quite often. All of that changed in March 2020 when lockdowns and general fear of the virus forced many of us to cocoon. This presented unique challenges, particularly for singles like me who live alone and were suddenly both single and socially distanced in a covid world.
Emotional Effects of Spending More Time Socially Distanced
At first it really wasn’t a big deal. I already worked from home, so that kept me busy along with projects and lots and lots of Netflix. I also have two dogs, which forces me to get outside several times a day. But after about the first month, I craved human interaction and my regular Zoom friend meet-ups weren’t cutting it. At first, I didn’t realize it was affecting me so much.
Then, I started noticing I could become very emotional at the drop of a hat. The looks on the dogs’ faces after I had a good cry was all I needed to see to know I saw suffering.
I decided to ramp-up my mindfulness exercises. Here are some of the steps I took that anyone can try:
Making Time for Regular Self Inquiry Practice
Along with focusing on my breathing and taking more moments for long, deep breaths, I also did more self-inquiry. When things are okay, I tend to get lazy and not practice self-inquiry on a regular basis (which as any facilitator will tell you, is not the way to practice awareness). I was still doing it, but just not enough to help keep me as present as I’d like.
In a world where we face extended durations of social distancing, staying present becomes particularly important!
So I devoted a few moments every day to stop doing whatever I was doing and focus on words and images that were coming up.
I looked at the words “lonely”,
and let my mind bring-up all of the feelings, emotions and energy associated with them.
Getting into the Body
Instead of focusing on the words and images, I focused on those feelings and energy associated with them and allowed my body to feel them instead of think them. It’s amazing how that release can feel. Instead of allowing my mind to continue on the runaway thoughts of loneliness, I ran right into the energy that those words and images provoked and felt into them.
Spend Socially Distanced Time In Nature
Another big suggestion – one you’ve likely heard before, is to get outside. Take a walk or a run. It’s still safe to do that away from the crowds. This will also help you get into the moment as the brisk air hits your cheeks or the sound of leaves rustle in the trees.
Using What’s in Your Toolbox
Mindfulness and presence work isn’t as mystical as it might sound. It’s basically getting out of your head where the words and images continue to feed loneliness, fear, anxiety, etc… and feeling from your body. This doesn’t mean I don’t experience strong emotions, but I have the tools to keep those thoughts from taking over my life.
Using the tools and support we have, we can still find and create meaningful connection when we are single and socially distanced.
By Chad Sewich
The Kiloby Center for Recovery is the first mindfulness addiction treatment center in the country. We treat addiction, anxiety, depression and a host of other mental illness issues through our groundbreaking mindfulness inquiries. Call 833-474-4064 for more information.