Alone Together: Embracing collective isolation

Four ways to embrace the collective experience to not only survive, but thrive in this bizzare "new normal".

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Image by silviarita from Pixabay
Image by silviarita from Pixabay

Like many people, my COVID19 experience has been compounded by a tough personal situation, which can make the lows even lower and the highs just slightly more out of reach – but also presented an opportunity. 

With everyone going through their own simultaneously similar and unique situations, it’s that much easier to reach out, build, and strengthen connections that I haven’t focused on for some time.

Collectively we have stepped back from the events, the commitments, the engagements, the busy-ness. When you pick up a phone now to video chat someone, 9 times out of 10 they’re on the other end ready for you. There is time.

However, many people (myself included) can look at the expanse of time stretched out empty in front of them with discomfort, dread, fear, or anxiety. Especially given the economic impacts of the virus.

This article is for you. 

What I’d like to offer is one way through the feeling, and that’s embracing this collective experience. Using the opportunity to deepen connections, with your friends, your family, your wider network, and especially with yourself.

1. Reframe loneliness: we are all in this together.
How you speak to yourself during this time is going to shape your experience. You’re allowed to be sad, you’re allowed to feel lonely, but the strange and wonderful thing about this time is that you’re not on your own. There are millions if not billions of people sharing your experience. Think about if a friend was going through what’s you’re going through, what would you say to them? Then say it to yourself, and while you’re at it pick up the phone and say it to someone else, they likely need to hear it.

2. Participate in community.
From house party happy hours to zoom family meetings to dance classes to live theatre, people can still come together and experience the support of community. What have you wanted to do for a while but have not had time for? I guarantee it’s available online in some shape or form. Challenge yourself, once, twice, three times a week to get out there and participate. By doing so, you’re lifting yourself, and you’re lifting those participating with you.

3. Be patient with people close to you.
For those lucky enough (yes, lucky enough) to be in isolation with another person, be patient with them. They’re going through something too. As much as you can, come together, be together, support each other, and allow each other some alone time. There are many out there who would be so grateful to have someone to share this experience with, someone to touch and someone to hold, please know how lucky you are and send some love to that person. Even if the sound of their chewing is sending you on your forth dog-walk of the day!

(Disclaimer – I know there’s people out there who are isolated in difficult or abusive relationships, if that is the case, please know you can get help, here is just one resource: https://www.thehotline.org/help/)

4. Do one thing to love on yourself every day.
Perhaps the most important relationship to nurture during this time is the one with yourself. Write down a list of things that make you feel nourished, joyful, cared for, pampered, and do one thing every single day. One of my team shared that she goes and puts a face mask on half way through the day if she’s getting down. I start my day with a short gentle yoga practice to breathe and feel out my body. Perhaps you have access to sit outside and feel the sun on your face. You could even just put your favorite outfit on, or some lipstick.

You may feel lonely, but you are not alone. We are all in this together, and we can help each other not only survive this time but thrive in it.

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