The Daunting Reality of Pandemic Loneliness: How to Mitigate it

Curbing loneliness is easier than you think- a warm conversation is just one upward swipe away.

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Cold, rainy, work-laden evenings seem to make everything seem lonelier. Even the best of us find ourselves turning to the social media- a superficial sanctuary, but a sanctuary nonetheless. We scroll aimlessly through our feeds that Instagram’s algorithm spits out based on what we have liked before, to see smiling face after smiling face. These faces melt past our eyes, and three hours later, we have accomplished nothing but convincing ourselves that we are the biggest loner on the planet. Although most do not realize it, the solutions to these oh-so-common feelings of dread and FOMO are right before our eyes. Here are 5 quarantine-friendly ways to feel truly connected to the people you are now connected to only through follows and likes:

#1: Comment on people’s posts

There is a reason I used the word “people’s,” as opposed to “friends’.” The word “people” encompasses acquaintances, friends, family members, and strangers that happen to be connected to you via social media. To comment on the post of someone who you would not immediately turn to like a friend is to step outside of your comfort zone. In an era blurred by days stuck at home, this is ideal: most of us have gotten a little too comfortable with what has become the state of our lives. Commenting is also a friendly way to foster interaction without confrontation, or the promise of a long conversation.

# 2: Take a walk outside- mask on, of course

At least for me, quarantine has given walks a vastly new definition than it held back in 2019: something that amps up the likelihood of seeing other human beings. A rare sighting of my neighbor- a friendly woman with two pre-elementary daughters- makes my day, as it reminds me that there are people outside my immediately family, too, suffering and surviving isolation. Even the exchange of a taxing “Hello! How have you been doing?” is a mood-booster.

# 3: Post about your current mood

The hesitation you likely feel before posting anything is more than justified. Any form of releasing personal information to a platform where others can view, process, and judge your content is intimidating, I admit. Doing so, however, is just another step to stepping out of your comfort zone. Not only will not bottling up your emotions feel like a release, but it will also increase the likelihood that someone will comment on what you post. Short, seemingly insignificant interactions are the key to remaining sane in a time defined by isolation.

# 4: Actually reach out to someone

If you’re anything like me, you hold yourself back from initiating conversation with the people you most want to talk to. The fear of appearing “clingy” or “overzealous” is to blame. Most people search for excuses to message someone that have to do with work, school, a mutual friend- anything but “I just wanted to talk to you”- before messaging someone. Just know that, chances are, the other person is probably facing the same dilemma. In being the one to start a conversation, you are being courageous- not clingy- and have taken away a task that put a bad taste in the mouth of your conversation partner.

# 5: Put your phone away- sometimes, alone time is what we need

Ironically, curbing loneliness does not simply involve interacting with people. What people need to understand is that it is not only okay, but also healthy to spend some time alone. Our phones are both are best friends and our worst enemies, in that they can make us feel overwhelmingly lonely if used incorrectly, but can also bring us feelings of warmth and community if used correctly. Place your phone in a place where you would have to walk to access it, sit down, relax, and indulge yourself in something that makes you feel like time has stopped.

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