It’s a Saturday. And as promised, here I am. To be with all of you, to speak to you and listen to you.
Covid19 pandemic is still living with us. The new normal has pushed us to be in difficult situations, making each day seem like a test for most. Some areas are still under lockdown and some people are living in self-imposed lockdown because they don’t know how it is going to turn next.
The best strategy for now continues to be – Using mask in public places, washing hands, sanitizing, and social distancing for a few months more.
While we keep talking about the physical health, we shouldn’t neglect the toll this phase is taking on the mental health of a big group of people.
Times are unprecedented. Covid19 pandemic has physically and socially distanced all of us from our friends and loved ones. For people, naturally attuned to living alone peacefully, it didn’t prove to be a big deal. But it is definitely challenging for all those, who are not naturally solo-dwellers.
A lot of extroverts and ambiverts are having a tough time coping with the reduced personal interaction with their group of friends and colleagues. Same goes for children who are unable to attend their school, enjoy in the park, or playground, or go to birthday parties like they used to, in pre-pandemic times.
Worse is the situation for people suffering from the infection, asked to stay in quarantine, maintaining a distance from everyone else. The long duration of isolation can easily challenge a person’s state of mind if his coping mechanism is not supportive enough.
Today, I wanted to talk about this stress of isolation, distancing, and loneliness. Specifically, to highlight that ‘being alone’ doesn’t have to mean ‘being lonely.’ We can all be by ourselves, stay alone, and still be happy. Only if we know how to do it.
If you feel that being alone makes you alienated, lost and sad, and you want to learn how to be happy while being alone, please read on. If not, you are doing well. Kudos!!
Everyday, I read on social media and news portals, how loneliness has affected someone’s psyche and thought process. How they became a nervous wreck because they were not surrounded by loved ones. A lot of people write to me to help them deal with it. They ask me to write about how to effectively stay alone, without feeling lonely, and how to remain happy and positive while doing so.
Living alone, and being happy is an art. Trick is to not let solitude affect you. Good news is that like every other art, it can be learnt and implemented effortlessly.
Here, I am writing down a few steps that helped me overcome the constant need to be around other people and taught me to be peaceful when I am with myself.
STEP #1 – Affirm the will to stay happy alone. If you ‘decide’ that you will try to learn and will stay happy and positive, whatever be the situation in your life, a lot of things become easier.
You need to tell yourself, at all times, that you will be fine. And that, you are good enough. You don’t need others to entertain you as you are self sufficient for yourself.
If you can’t be happy with yourself, then why will others be happy with you? Similarly, isn’t it better to be in your own company than being with someone who drains you emotionally and wastes your precious time. Even when you have fruitful relationships, you can’t expect people to drop everything in their life and be with you. It’s always a big achievement when you are living with yourself and learn to be excited about it.
Step #2 – Stop mindless consumption right away. It’s a bitter truth that mindless consumption and gobbling up of anything is detrimental to your physical and mental health. Episodes of your favourite shows on Netflix, or youtube, watching movies all day, all night, eating food more than you should, indulging in non-stop blaring dissection of the news on different news portals making you feel guilty at the end, making you feel like a couch potato, are all signs of escapism. It is not going to make you feel better. The moment the show ends, you will not know what to do with your life anymore. If that is the case, stop this toxic behaviour right away.
Entertainment in the right amount, at the right time, that makes you feel good is justified. But anything that distracts from reality, mindlessly, is not healthy entertainment. It is escapism.
The same goes for social media. If you find yourself addicted to social media in an unhealthy manner, you will know it as the moment you log out, you start feeling lonely, helpless, and clueless.
The trick is to detox, deactivate, and walk away from it for a few days. Take out a week for yourself – No TV, no internet, no social media, no shows, no dependence on anyone to make you happy. You will discover better ways to keep yourself occupied.
Step #3 – For that one week of detox, find an activity that keeps you physically busy but mentally free. Like washing utensils, cleaning the home, gardening, weaving, walking, exercising, yoga, painting, sketching, cooking… anything that you love to do but doesn’t require your brain to be absorbed in it. That makes you busy physically but your mind is free to wander away. Let the mind think whatever it wants and allow your deepest thoughts to connect with you.
Observe your thoughts and hold on to them.
Are they negative thoughts? Or positive?
Step #4: Make a journal. Write down all your feelings in that journal. Even if you are feeling lost and helpless without your family, friends, social media… write everything. Even if you can’t write much. Jot down the points and see how you talk to yourself.
Try to add to them, some thoughts filled with gratitude. Thank God for everything that you have. Feel grateful for your parents, the home, food on the table, health, air that we breathe in, education, job, ability to pay the bills, friends, knowledge, the privileges you have always had, the blessings in your life, every single thing that you can think of.
Step #5: Declutter your room, your home, your mind – Clean your space. Rearrange your living space and make it more beautiful, peaceful, the way you have always wanted it to be. Add nature – plants, stones, etc. Add lights. Shut out all the sources of negativity and clutter is one of them.
Shut out all the negative thoughts from your mind. Allow only positive thoughts to enter the sacred space of your brain.
Treat yourself kindly. You cannot keep criticizing yourself and putting yourself down. Let the world do that job and prepare yourself enough to stand up for yourself.
Step #6: Practice Self love and self care: Take a relaxing bath. Pamper your soul with calm music. Make a routine and promise good health to yourself. The 4 pillars of good health are –
A peaceful sleep for 7-8 hours every night
A healthy diet
Proper exercise schedule
Meditation & calming rituals
Treat yourself with a nice meal. Appreciate yourself every single day and work on aspects that you’ve always wanted to grow.
Step #7: Discover yourself. Slowly, your mind will start confiding in you. Find out what you love to do the most when you are all alone. You may like to write, or sing, or dance. You can learn new skills. Or rekindle new hobbies. Learn cooking, or a new language, or a musical instrument. Discover passions. Join a few courses and improve your profile.
You may want to read books. Or magazines.
Step #8: Make plans. Give yourself deadlines and try to meet them. The plans can be professional, personal, spiritual. Just write what you want to do and fix a time for that activity. If you can’t keep up, it’s okay. At least you are trying. A challenge will keep you going from one goal to another.
Step #9: Go back to regular routine – mindfully this time. Once you are comfortable with yourself, you can now go back to social media, TV, surf internet, chit chat with people, listening to news, but a little mindfully this time. Give everything a set time, within limits, and log out after you are done with the day’s quota of internet consumption.
Step #10: Define the purpose of your life. A life without purpose withers away but doesn’t make a mark for itself. Make yourself useful and you will never need people to make you happy.
Always remember – You are a wonderful person and you were created to add glory to this world.
Each one of us is a complete and whole unit. We were created by God as an individual. We add beauty and significance to each other and together we can create magic. But it doesn’t mean that alone, we are nothing. We are magic in ourselves.
Alone doesn’t have to mean lonely. No. We are capable of being happy and positive on our own. In fact, we can make this world a happier and positive place if we don’t pour our negativity into the Universe.
Try the above steps if you have been struggling with loneliness. I hope these suggestions help some of you. Do write to me about your views on isolation. And the problems you faced overcoming it. Does it bother you, or are you happy alone?
I look forward to hearing from you.
Stay safe. Stay blessed.
Lots and lots of love.