Are you feeling lonely?
I get a bit distant on social media, or lack the incentive to “show up” at times. Can you relate? Are you feeling lonely? I fall behind because I have a busy schedule, but also because I’m a bit of an introvert and I tend to keep to myself. In general, I enjoy my own company, and quiet time, but this Auckland lockdown has been a bit different. Now that we’re doing the long haul, I feel lonely.
Thinking back there are other times I have felt lonely – and one of those times was as a new Mum. Especially when I was housebound in winter and couldn’t take my premature son out. Or when my child started kindergarten and I found myself on the outer circle of the “Mum’s who already know each other” clique. I know it passes. But sometimes you have to help matters along.
Lockdowns remove socialisation. And as a new Mum in Auckland, lockdown will have stopped that one trip out a week to coffee group. But that one trip could have been what was keeping you sane. And if you have a child in the house who doesn’t sleep well, well, you’re simply too tired to go out and socialise and connect, even when you can. Even if times were “normal” and you could have a babysitter in, often you can’t because you know that baby won’t sleep without you feeding or nursing or holding them.
The most precious things are fragile
If you are a Mum, I know you are strong and resilient in so many ways (even if you don’t feel it), and yet, as humans, we can also be so, so fragile. The most precious things often are.
Loneliness happens when there is a lack of connection. You may be socially distanced, but you could also be too tired to connect to your partner or other children who are right in front of you too – even if they are in the same room as you. And that’s discounting the fact that if you’re not sleeping well, then your relationship could already be on the rocks.
Part of my loneliness at this time is due to having a teen and tween in the house – who are very much independent beings and have their own agendas (which does not include parents unless it’s on their terms). And my husband still gets to leave the house as an essential worker, and for him, it really is business as usual. Not a lot has changed. Not to mention I’m grieving for a few things we had planned (including some child-free nights which I literally haven’t had in years – FML).
My loneliness has stopped me showing up if I don’t have to, and for that I apologise (rest assured, my clients still hear from me, and honestly, the chats I have with them are keeping me somewhat sane). But now that I have labelled my feeling, I can address it and make a change. While loneliness is not a mental illness, it has been shown to be a precursor to depression and other physical and mental illnesses if it continues. So, I’m determined to beat this. Will you join me?
So how do you combat loneliness?
Like all things, there is no one-size fits all approach. But ultimately it is about having a happy balance in your life. Balancing alone time with connecting with others, balancing quiet times with noise (turn up the music if that raises your mood or hide out in the car with a book if you need some peace and quiet). Be supportive of others (look outwards, not always in), but balance this by acknowledging and talking about your feelings too.
- know you’re not alone. If you’re feeling it, you can bet your bottom dollar others are too. Pick up the phone and connect with someone you like who you haven’t talked to in a while.
- Tell someone. That’s always the first step to getting help. I told my husband, and he is making efforts to spend more time talking to me, which is a great start.
- If you’re “stuck” at home, develop a homebound routine. One that gives you a reason to get up and focus on something other than how you’re feeling (which may be nothing TBH). Or get back into routines that work for you.
- Look for the positives. Humans are hardwired to focus on the negatives (it keeps us safe) so we need to actively look for positives to overcome those negative tendencies. How many beautiful things can you see on your daily walk, whether that be safely around the neighbourhood – Auckland, or in your own garden or on the deck/patio. Feel the sun on your face when it’s there.
- Practice gratitude. Once you start seeing the positives, be thankful for them. Yes, there are plenty of lockdown positives to be grateful for (just one is working on sleeping better – you know I had to reference that here).
- Catch up on tasks you’ve never had time for. If you’re anything like me (or any mum I know) you have a huge list of “to dos” that have fallen by the wayside. Now is your opportunity to get your house in order, one cupboard at a time. Whether that be your linen cupboard, pantry, toy corner, wardrobe or junk drawer. Pick something small to start. Then celebrate the accomplishment as you finish each small task.
- Join my VIP sleep group if you love sleep, or you’d like tips on independent sleep – introduce yourself and meet a few more friends who also appreciate sleep.
As a start, feel free to connect below! Let me know that you see this post by offering an emoji at a minimum. There is a way to connect and overcome loneliness. There is even a website dedicated to it! Check out https://loneliness.org.nz/ for more tips and information.
And if you feel like it (and even if you don’t) feel free to follow me on Facebook or Instagram to see what happens when I do show up. If sleep is on your mind grab my free download to get your child sleeping through the night or book a free call to see how I can help you. I’m always happy to chat. Just like lockdown, this too shall pass.