How to manage loneliness

By the Counselling Centre

“The greatest disease in the World today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is LOVE - Mother Theresa.

It is okay to experience loneliness, loneliness is a human experience, a consequence of being a social being in a complicated world. Naturally, humans are relational beings and they love the connection especially that of being around other people, feeling accepted, getting encouraged, having conversations etc. This is very normal, don’t be afraid to embrace the feeling.

If you are feeling lonely because of isolation due to COVID-19, understand that you are not alone in this situation. Several other people are holed up in family homes/rooms, hospital isolation rooms and/or other spaces they did not choose to be in. Some people have even found themselves in other countries, cities, towns and places they were only meant to be in temporarily. This awareness and understanding will help you to stop blaming themselves and take it as a health requirement which, however uncomfortable, is emphasized for a good reason. It is important to protect oneself and loved ones; and the community/country at large. Each person's actions make the difference. Loneliness should encourage solidarity, being kinder and being attuned to people and appreciative of what we have.

Loneliness does not always mean absence of a person or people; it means absence of connection. Some people are lonely because they have low self- esteem or poor social skills and have difficulties connecting with other people; or they feel their company is not valuable to others. Some people feel unwanted and unattractive or ‘boring' hence feelings may be heightened during this period. Whatever the cause, find some counsel online, use positive thought strategies, pray regardless of your faith or religion, do some positive self - talk, smile, dance, and be tenderer with yourself.

What you can do to manage loneliness

It is important to acknowledge that different activities work for different people hence it is important for you to identify what works for you.

Stay active by;

Staying connected with your family members and friends either virtually or physically. Ensure you observe government directives during physical meetings.

Doing something meaningful that will make you experience a form of satisfaction e.g. volunteer work.

Read on areas that interest you. You can also watch programs, TED talks, shows that excite you.

Online engagement in groups that discuss topics that are of interest to you e.g. DIYs, music

Listen and create music if you are a music lover.

You can practice artwork if you love art i.e. painting, crocheting, knitting drawing or origami.

Take up online classes to keep you busy on areas that interest you.

Engage in soothing activities like steamy shower, hot chocolate as they comfort from loneliness.

Engage in outdoor activities like going for nature walks, picnic, cycling, hikes among other fun outdoor activities. Ensure you observe government directives if going with friends.

Have a friend or family member you can confide in about how you feel. Having a strong support system comes handy while dealing with such.

Things to note

Use your time wisely during this period, as solitude enriches creative work. Many people, especially teenagers and adults, have not created or afforded such a “free" period of time for many years. One could feel uncomfortable and disoriented, but it’s best to use this time to plan, set goals, review goals and progress. So while it lasts, a lot of positive and productive stuff can come out of such a time which will lessen feelings of loneliness. One can literally take it as their reflection period or ‘quiet time’ and if used wisely, it can compensate for what has been lost in many years. If anyone is in isolation and feels lonely, take this time to plan to come out better, more organized and focused.

Find things to be grateful for. In this time of uncertainty, there are complaints and negative events around the world. Some people may have lost loved ones, lost jobs, forced to take salary cuts etc. For someone who is in isolation, it would reduce their feelings of loneliness if they proactively chose to be more grateful. Make gratitude your friend. Journal about the things you’re grateful for. Better still, one can speak them out. Be grateful for who you are. Grateful for your health. For your loved ones. Grateful that you are still employed. Grateful that your symptoms are manageable and there is hope. Grateful that this too shall pass. Grateful that you are alive!

Work with a structure. Periods of lack of activity can easily attract feelings of loneliness. One can make a plan for each day and ensure they have at least two or three goals to accomplish in any given day. For instance, wake up, pray, exercise, take a shower, video call family/friends, read up a favorite book/chapter, listen to a podcast etc. The structure can change each day but at least do something productive. Occupy the mind and body productively. Loneliness, if not well managed can lead to depression, a form of anxiety, alcohol and substance abuse, stress, powerlessness, physical illnesses due low immunity and suicidal behavior.

If you feel overwhelmed and need help, contact a counselor. You can call 0730116748/750 or email:

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