11 Creative Ways to Beat Loneliness
First things first: You're not alone. During these exceedingly difficult times, try your best to find a sliver of comfort that you're feeling the same way millions are as we face the coronavirus pandemic across the country. Second, yes, streaming movies and TV shows are fun, but that will only get you so far. To feel less lonely, it's best to engage in activities that make you feel connected to others and/or make a positive impact on your own well-being and that of others.
Experts stress that the loneliness so many of us are struggling with now is perfectly normal. "During this unprecedented time of social distancing and working from home for millions of people during the coronavirus pandemic, loneliness can set in—now is the time to nurture yourself in a variety of ways to connect with others and yourself," says Jill E. Daino, LCSW-R, a therapist for Talkspace—a leading online therapy platform that does counseling via text, audio, and video. "Remember riding the waves of your feelings is normal and feeling lonely at times is to be expected."
Whether you're feeling lonely yourself or looking to support a loved one battling loneliness, read on for some of our favorite ideas on how to feel better. And remember during this difficult chapter of history that there are many people who live alone and may not have a robust support network. Whether you simply call someone you know that you haven't spoken to in a while who lives on their own or drop off essentials for a neighbor who lives alone, small gestures can make a big difference. Perhaps, even suggesting some of the following ideas can be the difference between a bad day and a soul-lifting smile. Some are general ideas from experts, others are specific activities you can do for a boost, and all are designed to make that soul-lifting smile a little less elusive. We've got you!
1. Take a MasterClass.
This online platform allows you to learn from leading luminaries across a variety of different fields. In light of the coronavirus pandemic, they've been offering free MasterClass Live sessions, like this makeup tutorial from Bobbi Brown. If you'd like to subscribe, MasterClass offers an All-Access Pass for $180 year ($15 a month is likely less than buying a few cups of coffee a month) that grants access to the 80+ classes on the platform. They’re currently running a “buy one, share one” program where two passes can be purchased for the price of one if you'd like to share the joy of learning with others and save on costs.
For Southerners, some of our favorite classes are Aaron Franklin (Texas BBQ), David Sedaris (storytelling and humor), and Kelly Wearstler (interior design). Learning something new is a great way to boost your mood, and since the MasterClass platform offers a discussion section along with the video lectures, it's also a great way to learn from and interact with others.
2. Volunteer online.
You can help with the coronavirus crisis with these virtual volunteering opportunities. Remember: Brightening others' days is an excellent way to brighten yours, too.
3. Make an extra effort to reach out to loved ones.
Consider starting your day by writing down a list of two or three people you want to reach out to and then making sure you've done so by nightfall. "While connecting through technology is something we're used to doing regularly, it is more important now to reach out to stay connected and check in with each other to provide extra support," says Daino. "We can be intentional about the way we schedule calls, texts and video chats with friends and family. It also gives us an opportunity to be a part of each other's lives in a day-to-day way even when we are physically separated."
4. Join an online dating site.
If you or a single friend has a limited social network or are looking to meet new people, consider signing up for a dating site—even if you're not meeting people in real life. Whether its SilverSingles, Match, JDate, or another platform, sending messages or hopping on a phone call and getting to know someone can be a wonderful bonding experience. And something to look forward to when life returns to normal and you can schedule those dates in person!
5. Or, if you're already on one, spend some time updating your profile.
Amie Leadingham, a Master Relationship Coach working with Spark Networks, which has several major dating sites in its portfolio ranging from JDate, JSwipe, and Christian Mingle to SilverSingles, Zoosk and EliteSingles, thinks now is the perfect time for a profile refresh. Why? Doing so can help put you in touch with focusing on your best traits and and honing in on what makes you unique.
Leadingham suggests uploading new pictures and profile text that “show prospective partners your playful side [to] give you and them a break from the constant barrage of doom and gloom that we hear each day.” Try using a photo showcasing the new hobby you’ve been working on during quarantine to pique interest from others or writing a list of all the things you will do after “your mandatory staycation." By making yourself and others laugh, you're taking a step towards building connection with others and staving off feelings of isolation. For more online dating advice, see Leadingham's helpful piece on safe and mindful dating during the Coronavirus pandemic.
6. Plan a fun virtual date.
Whether you schedule one with a virtual suitor or a romantic partner you're currently separated from, Leadingham is all about getting creative when it comes to scheduling dates. Some ideas from Spark Networks include talking while taking a virtual tour of the Louvre or touring the Great Barrier Reef together. Talk about a dream date without leaving home!
7. Join a virtual book club or another online group.
Love reading? Check out Time.com's rundown of 10 virtual book clubs you can join right now here. "There are also options to connect with new people around specific interests by searching for a virtual group, if you have an interest, it likely exists online," suggests Daino. Be right back as we search for an online knitting club.
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8. Offer some extra TLC to yourself.
It may sound a bit counterintuitive to beat loneliness, but providing yourself with an act of self-care can go a long way to raise your spirits. "Individual activities are also important, being lonely doesn't always mean you have to reach out to others, sometimes it is an opportunity to take a moment to take good care of yourself. While we hear a lot about self care that sounds simplistic, it is important to find ways to manage the waves of feelings at this time, including the loneliness," says Daino. "For some that means diving into a good book, doing a project around the home, crafting, meditation, exercise, baking, trying new recipes, writing/journaling, getting extra sleep, spending time with pets, but whatever it is, remember it is an opportunity for you to take care of yourself during this unprecedented time."
9. Attend a virtual concert.
Music is a research-backed avenue to enhancing your mood. A quick Google search for "virtual concerts" will give you a lengthy list of options. For daily listings, check out NPR's guide on where to stream live virtual concerts. We're also partial to Verizon's #PayItFowardLIVE concert series to support coronavirus relief for small businesses and has thus far featured the likes of Dave Matthews and Ryan Tedder from One Republic.
10. Try some acupressure techniques
Certain therapeutic massage methods can help target emotional difficulties you may be experiencing right now. As Jessica Klein, lead acupuncturist of Area 25 suggests, zoom in on the "large intestine 4" point found on your hand in the webbing between the thumb and index finger. "If you squeeze your thumb to your index finger, the point is found at the highest point of that muscle mound," she says.
"Apply deep, firm pressure with your thumb ([with your] index finger in [your] palm for support) and massage for 30 seconds, then switch to the other hand," she continues, noting that it's perfectly normal to feel some sensitivity here as its a powerful location on the body. "We often feel very stuck/stagnant in our minds, so this point will facilitate movement of energy in the head to promote the ability to move forward," she adds, a boon for those enduring feelings of loneliness. For more ideas, search for "acupressure" in YouTube for some simple video tutorials. All zenned out from your mini massage? Take a bath. You're a Southerner. You know this is like chicken soup for the minty-fresh soul. Grab a good book or magazine, a snack, and light a candle or two to make the experience more indulgent.
11. Try a yoga class.
New to the practice? Check out Yoga with Adriene on YouTube for approachable videos you can do with little or no equipment in your living room. You may find her 20-minute "Yoga for Loneliness" practice particularly enlightening. As my South Carolina-born yoga teacher at YoYoga! instructor said in a recent class I streamed (you can sign up here), "we may all be apart, but we're breathing together."