With most of the world currently in quarantine or self-isolation, the coronavirus pandemic has placed huge pressure on our mental well-being and there seem to be people out there suffering from feelings of loneliness or a sense of being lost.
If you, or someone you know, is struggling with loneliness or their mental health during the coronavirus lockdown, then this article will help you to:
- re-connect with the experience in a different, more empowered way.
- re-balance your perspective on the loss of connection with others.
- re-energise through dissolving difficult emotions.
Most people who have experienced loneliness during complete isolation from others have said that it is one of the toughest things that they have ever had to go through. Periods of isolation are often associated with times of poor health, old-age, or when personal freedom is restricted. However, they are also time for transformation and renewal. A caterpillar cannot turn into a butterfly without a period of transformation in complete isolation.
Personally, I have experienced total isolation on a 10-day silent meditation retreat where I did not talk or make eye contact with anyone else during this entire period. Although the experience was challenging, when I look back now, I can see how valuable this time was for my personal growth and self-awareness.
In this article, I explore how you can change perspective on what it means to be physically isolated from others and encourage you to find ways of enjoying your own company. I also share more about one of our favourite methods at the retreat of managing our worries in times of distress – mindfulness.
The benefits of physical isolation
Most people seek out groups and rely on social contact for their security and well-being. However, there are plenty of examples in nature where isolation is utilised for positive purposes. In nature, isolation can naturally occur when times are tough and protection is needed (think of bears hibernating in the winter) or when a significant transformation occurs (think of a caterpillar transforming itself into a butterfly inside a cocoon).
Many of us find it easy to identify the downsides of loneliness – however, we can sometimes forget or become unappreciative of the upsides (like those for the bear or butterfly). Here are some of the possible benefits of being isolated and having time to enjoy your own company (consider which ones might currently apply to you!):
- You can become more resourceful and self-reliant
If you are the kind of person who relies a lot on the company of others for your well-being, there are some upsides to becoming more self-reliant. For example, when we are more self-reliant, we tend to blame others less for our problems and can have more self-belief that we can achieve what we want in our lives.
- You have time to figure out what you really want
When we feel indebted and/or obligated to others we can quickly lose sight of the things that make us fulfilled and happy. However, when we are isolated, we can release, for a time, these obligations and truly focus on ourselves, for example to figure out what we really want.
- It’s an opportunity to rest and recuperate
If we are working hard or going through a stressful time in our life, it’s wise to take the opportunity to rest and recuperate every so often to recharge our batteries.
- It’s an opportunity to reconnect with nature
It’s been well documented that time in nature can help us to destress. Why not try the following exercise. Have a look around your home right now and note any place that nature is currently thriving – take time to connect to any living creatures or plants you find! Gardens, window boxes and even potted plants are bursting full of life if we look closely and carefully.
- We have time to appreciate the simple things in life
Simplifying our lives can help us to quieten our minds and bring us more often to a state of appreciation. My mum often reminds me of the old adage “the best things in life are free!”.
- It’s an opportunity to educate yourself and learn
Although we can’t physically go into a classroom to learn, we are blessed with a huge array of subjects that can be studied online. Have a think right now – what subjects have always fascinated you, and you would love to learn more about? What qualifications could you get online? Maybe this is the opportunity you’ve always wanted to research and write your own book!
- It’s a time to transform and grow your self-awareness
Self-awareness grows by focusing on your inner world (connection with yourself is easier when you are isolated from others). Becoming more self-aware means we can dissolve our guilt, shame or resentments about ourselves or others.
- It’s a time to reconnect with yourself and what’s important to you
“If only I had time I would…” is a phrase I’ve been caught uttering many a time. Now is a great time to really examine what you do with your time. Ask yourself: are my actions aligned with what I value most? Do I spend time on doing the things I truly love?
Exercise: Isolation is an illusion
Here is an opportunity to explore a life changing concept deeply. Companionship or a sense of connection is never lost, it only changes form.
The following is a great exercise for those people who believe they have been isolated with recent events:
- list where in your life companionship has emerged since you’ve been isolated (where it was minimal or didn’t exist beforehand). Include any relationships that have developed or expanded since you have been isolated (including the relationship with yourself).
- list the benefits of companionship in the new form compared to companionship in the old form before isolation.
Grab a pen and paper, a cup of herbal tea and take 30 minutes to explore these questions.
The blessing of Mindfulness for overcoming loneliness
If you are able to ground yourself in the present moment, or ask yourself “what is the problem right now” you will quickly discover that your so called “problems” were just illusions or fantasies about what might happen in the future, or worries about things that have happened in the past! In other words, there are no problems in the present moment.
Mindfulness is a form of meditation which allows us to stay present. Anything that allows us to focus on the present moment and drop the chattering, (and sometimes worrying) mind will enhance our well-being.
At La Crisalida we teach mindfulness and meditation. If mindfulness is new to you, check out our beginners guide to mindfulness article here.
If you have lost a sense of connection with others, or are suffering from loneliness, now is a great opportunity to re-connect with yourself. Check out our blog article: meditation to reconnect with yourself.
Finally, mindfulness can help us to dissolve difficult emotions including helplessness or anxiety. If you are looking to balance, accept and release uncomfortable emotions, you can find a link to a mindfulness meditation on this article: mindfulness to balance and release emotions here.
Online retreat: Mindfulness Morning
If you would like to practice mindfulness with La Crisalida Retreats in your own home, then join us for a Mindfulness Morning. You can read more about these mornings here: online retreats.