With the current pandemic, many are advised to stay at home for safety reasons and to reduce the number of people who are infected. While some found the silver lining in this (taking a much-needed break from school and work), many begin to feel the effects of loneliness as a result of measures such as social distancing, self-isolation and quarantine.

Being alone at home (or with family/friends) for long periods of time is something new that we are experiencing and to have our familiar routine and lives disrupted all of a sudden is definitely jarring.

Loneliness has also been on the rise ever since the pandemic started and is still rising. Coupled with uncertainty and anxiety over the future, loneliness has taken a toll on the mental wellbeing of many around the world.

As such, here are a few tips for managing and overcoming loneliness during the pandemic to help improve your mental and emotional wellbeing.

1. Rethinking how you spend your spare time

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Since we are stuck at home, there’s so much more free time that we have as compared to before where we only have pockets of spare time.

However, what have you been doing during your spare time?

While it is fine to just lay in bed and catch up on the latest season of your favourite series, it might perpetuate the feeling of loneliness instead.

Rethink how you can spend your free time.

Pick up new hobbies, return to your interests!

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Take some time to think and come up with activities that you can do at home that you (and your house mates) might enjoy. Maybe even set some challenges and goals to achieve such as learning how to crochet or finish reading 5 books.

This sense of achievement will improve your mental wellbeing and make you feel proud and happy with yourself.

Of course, you do not have to always be using your time productively, but you can insert some activities in your day to boost yourself and your state of mind.

2. Talking to people

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This might seem like a no-brainer but often, many of us tend to withdraw and self-isolate when we feel lonely. This could be out of fear of bothering people or simply wanting to be alone with our own thoughts.

However, take this opportunity to seek out people and connect with them. Safely, of course.

Call your friend over facetime to talk about your day, plan a skype session or zoom call with different friend groups and have activities such as game nights!

That’s a good way to bond with people who might be feeling lonely as well. Remember to check in with your family and friends during this pandemic.

3. Stopping your negative thought cycle

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Now, this is not easy to do.

Our negative thoughts tend to creep up on us and stay in our mind for the entire day, eating away at us as we go about our day.

Instead of giving in to these thoughts and allowing them to bring us down, we should identify them then reason with ourselves about why we are thinking in such a manner.

By doing so, we are acknowledging that while they exist, we are still the ones in control.

You can also write all of the pent-up negativity down on a piece of paper and destroy it afterwards. It’s a symbolic and physical representation of removing your negative thoughts.

It’s important to identify and acknowledge that these thoughts exist, and instead of letting them run freely, you should make an effort to curb them.

4. Joining an online group of like-minded people

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What better way to feel less lonely than to connect and interact with people that have similar interests?

Identify the group of people you’d like to connect with and from there, you can search up groups and servers online. There are many that cater to different groups of people with various interests and hobbies. They range from sports, to games, to baking or fashion and more.

Find one that suits you and join the group! Talk and discuss about your interests, befriend and bond with people in your community or from all around the world.

5. Practicing self-kindness

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It is easy to beat ourselves up for doing something that we shouldn’t have (such as indulging in our favourite snack at midnight or not going for a run), and we tend to be harsh with ourselves pretty often.

Such behaviour could become even more prevalent during this difficult time as we have the impression that we should be very productive while stuck at home.

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However, take a step back and remind yourself that you are experiencing a global pandemic, and that being productive is not supposed to be that high on your list anyway. Staying safe and well, physically, mentally and emotionally is important.

That can take the form of spending the entire day watching your favourite movies, reading a book or journaling.

Remember to be kind to yourself and if you fall short of your own expectations, forgive yourself and treat yourself just like how you would treat your friend!

5. Being nice to yourself

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Being nice to yourself can be done by having self-compassion. It is a little similar to the earlier point, but you can go about being nice to yourself in different ways.

For instance, writing down what you’ve managed to achieve and accomplish for the day. It could be as something as simple as washing the dishes that have been piling up or finishing a personal project.

By writing down what you are grateful for, you are focusing on what is good and not what is bad, and at the same time, you’re reaffirming yourself, thereby improving your wellbeing.

You can also set boundaries, which includes saying “no”.

It is important to put your needs first and if you are feeling burnt out, it is perfectly fine to politely say no to an invitation for a zoom hangout with a large group of friends, for instance.

There are plenty of ways where you can be nice and kind to yourself, search them up online and remember to take care of your own wellbeing first!

Loneliness hits differently for different people, and what you are feeling is valid. Remember that you don’t have to go through it alone and to reach out to others as well as resources available during this pandemic.

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