Disclaimer: I am not a licensed professional, just an individual sharing advice that helped me and resonated with others with whom I have interacted. If you feel you are experiencing mental health issues or distress, please seek out a professional if it is accessible to you.
Loneliness is a phenomenon with which millions of humans struggle. For example, 45% of adults in England have reported constantly suffering from loneliness.
As a nineteen-year-old, I can vouch for the fact that I have felt lonely on more than one occasion, the most recent being the day I moved into university accommodation in London.
I still felt alone in a city as busy as London, in a building full of people, with seven other flatmates and friends I’d already made. While that feeling was temporary, being a result of having said bye to my parents after moving in, I can recall longer and stronger bouts of loneliness.
Teenagers and young adults are heavily overlooked when it comes to experiencing loneliness. A study published in July 2021 found that twice as many adolescents experience loneliness today as they did ten years ago. This figure is higher in those that identify as female. Unless there remain underlying issues for loneliness, there are ways to cope with such emotions. Short-term tips include limiting or at least regulating social media exposure.
One of the most helpful lifestyle tips is learning to curate your social media feed. Algorithms of sites such as Instagram and Twitter calculate how much time you spend looking at individual posts, which is why they may push too many reels with the same sounds or put a lot of food posts on your explore page. Being aware of this is extremely helpful. I’ve managed to balance my feed with a mix of food recommendations, room aesthetic ideas, animal memes, and study inspiration posts, which is a good balance for me.
This balance was all achieved by liking specific posts for an amount of time, unfollowing many people or accounts that triggered me, and knowing when to stop scrolling. When it comes to loneliness, comparison and the fear of missing out will be your biggest enemies. At times like these, having a balanced social media feed or a second private account where you do not follow certain people can do wonders.
The second big tip for dealing with loneliness would be practice. There is a fine line between loneliness and learning how to enjoy your own company. Of course, there are points when many of you feel left out, but often I’ve found myself better suited alone with a book, taking a bath, or going on a walk. Practising being by yourself, saying no to plans, and learning how to fill your time with hobbies or activities is a lifesaver. If you are lucky, you’ll get to the point where you prefer your own company and space over others, which is never wrong. To surmise, being alone does not have to mean you are lonely.
Of course, being alone is very hard. If you are alone by default and not by choice, it can be difficult, and it is in these times you have to be compassionate to yourself. But on the other hand, if you seek company but are too nervous for physical interaction, there are always safe ways to make good, long-lasting friendships online. If not, joining societies or activity groups with people who share similar interests is always the eBay way to start. And if you are nervous, remember you are there to meet like-minded people just as they are.
Finally, I will say this. Learning to be alone (and okay with it) is very hard. It can be embarrassing, sad, and lonely at times, but it is always better to be alone rather than settle for company you dislike. If all else fails, there are always activities like journaling, meditation, and listening to music which I have found, helps a lot.
Once you learn to sit in the discomfort of your own company, the entire world feels much scarier and easier to tackle.
Edited by: Ayona Mitra
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