Since the rise of Covid-19, social distancing has displaced most to the confines of their home. I for one, am an extrovert. I thrive when I’m in the company of others, so suffice to say, finishing the rest of the semester online is not my cup of tea. I know there are quite a few who can relate. However, I soberly realize that sacrifices must be made for the greater good. To flatten the curve, we all have to stay away from each other, as terrible as that sounds. It’s an understatement to say that this situation is less than ideal.
The ongoing reality we are facing can be very challenging, especially mentally. Not everyone is cut out to live in isolation. For many, a sense of stability is found in socializing, whether it be at college, at a weekly church fellowship, or with a group of friends. For these individuals, the Genesis declaration that “it is not good man should be alone” can now be felt more profoundly than ever. The loss of a social life hurts deeply. For these people, I have no doubt that this quarantine has resulted in much loneliness. Perhaps this is you?
I believe the issue of loneliness is not to be taken lightly. From experience, I know that it can have grave mental and spiritual effects if not adequately addressed. Loneliness, depending on the severity, can breed many things, such as self-pity, idleness, despair, or apathy about life. Having been there before, my heart goes out to anyone who is struggling with it now in the midst of this trying time.
My purpose here is to discuss the question: how do you deal with loneliness during quarantine?
There are two types of loneliness I’d like to address. The first is loneliness as the result of a lack of people in one’s life, whether it be friends, a college community, or just human beings in general. Loneliness in this regard is more situational and can often occur during sickness, like for example, the Covid-19 pandemic. There are many practical and mental steps one can take to alleviate this “people void” when face to face interaction is impossible.
The second type is an emotional void that occurs as the result of either failing relationships, the absence of strong friendships, or relational disconnects. The kind of feeling that follows any one of these problems is far more severe to one’s mental and spiritual health than the first kind of loneliness. Though the remedy is far harder to come by, as someone who has experienced it myself, but I know for a fact something can be done about it. I know there is hope.
PRACTICAL STEPS TO DEAL WITH LONELINESS
If the loneliness you experience is because of an absence of people in your life, there are many things you can do to connect with others. Even if you don’t have a lot of friends, these tips could still help:
- Analyze Your Situation: Before you try to fill the “people void,” first take time to think about your situation. Consider who God has placed in your life right now. Who can you reach out too? Is there anyone who could perhaps be lonely too? Think about life in your house. If you have siblings, this is the perfect time to strengthen your relationship with them. What do you like to do together? These questions are but a sample of what you could be asking, don’t limit yourself.
- Take Advantage of Technology: We live in the most technologically connected age in history, yet at the same time, it’s so easy to be disconnected. Don’t let that be you. Text your friends daily. Video call them. That video game you play? Maybe there is someone who can join you? There are hundreds of online games. Be intentional in using technology to connect.
- Think of Creative Ways to Interact: Don’t be afraid to venture outside the box. Though you might not think it’s possible, there are so many things you can do with others right now. Collab with someone on a short story. Invite some friends to have a Bible study. Film a goofy movie with your siblings. Try a roleplaying game. Do schoolwork with someone via FaceTime. Challenge a friend to read a book with you and periodically talk about it. Are these the best ideas you can come up with? Perhaps not! Every situation is unique, but the point is, don’t limit the possibilities. Being inventive may be challenging and uncomfortable, but you must remember, it’s up to you to make your social life happen.
- Avoid Idleness: Loneliness can often result in an idleness borne from a sense of self-pity and boredom. It’s easy to get caught up in how terrible everything is and waste time when there is nothing immediate to do. To solve this problem, think of activities you can do by yourself. Write a poem. Read a book. Spend some time outside. Start a workout routine. Whatever it may be, avoid idleness. Idleness feeds loneliness, and considering how you’re probably trapped in your house right now, its best to be constantly aware of this danger.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help: If your loneliness feels crippling and is emotionally draining, reach out to someone. Consider the people in your life, whether that be a close friend, your Pastor, a wise adult, a professor, or perhaps even the counselling services at Gordon. Spend time in a quiet place and pray. Ask God for help. Realizing that you can’t struggle through this alone is a mark of humility. The humble will be heard. As Psalm 51 says, “[t]he sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” Through everything we face, especially loneliness, this promise of peace always stands.
3 MENTAL STEPS YOU CAN TAKE
Though practical steps can be helpful, without a strong motivator behind them they will be nothing more than a few unfruitful suggestions. It’s important to develop a mindset that can both pursue friendship and handle the disappointment that comes when things get rough. The following are some mental steps that can help in this regard:
- Adopt an Intentional Mindset: It’s crucial that you are purposeful in your pursuit of friendship. You can’t sulk expecting that everyone will meet your needs. You need to take initiative. If you’re lonely, be the friend to others that you wish they would be to you. Relationships are what you make of it, either you can plant one seed or you can plant many. Though they might not all grow, you won’t be disappointed by the effort you’ve put in when one does. Neither will you regret planting any at all.
- Don’t Get Caught Up in the Moment: It’s quite easy when you’re lonely to be so consumed by what’s wrong now that you quickly fall into self-pity. This danger poses itself even greater when this loneliness is the second type. Though right now it might be comfortable to despair, this kind of mindset only feeds the problem. Dwell on what the future holds. Today’s quarantine will eventually end. Your social life will improve. Best of all, whatever tears we cry today will be wiped away for eternity when Christ returns. Loneliness will not last forever.
- Realize That Only God Can Satisfy: It may be that the lonely feelings you are experiencing is not the result of an absence of people or even the lack of a good friend. Instead, you may be lonely because you are trying to find emotional satisfaction in something other than God. For those dealing with the second type of loneliness, this might be especially true. Even if this isn’t you, it’s still important to realize: we don’t need people in our lives to be happy. Emotional security can be found by finding satisfaction in Christ. He is our greatest friend, and that’s a fact we can have joy believing in through this trying time.
It’s not every year you are stuck in the house all day for weeks on end. If you remember anything after reading this article, let it be this: you don’t have to be lonely. There is hope. There is hope because God is your truest friend in this situation. He will provide you with what you need. There is hope because quarantine will not last forever, in a month’s time, the Covid-19 crisis could be radically different. God is in control over what happens. You will make it.