“Loneliness is and always has been the central and inevitable experience of every man”.
Loneliness is a universal human experience that most individuals will go through at any given stage of life. Recently, it has been one of the glaring issues facing many of us during the Covid-19 epidemic, as we navigate the realms of quarantine, social and geographical distancing and stay-at-home orders. With the holiday season upon us, some of us may be feeling a sense of acute loneliness as we are limited in the ways that we can celebrate, whether that means not being able to be travel to be with our loved ones, or gather with all the people we would usually see.
One can feel lonely in spite of being among people, experience it in a marriage or a relationship, or be lonely due to lack of interaction with others. Many times, it is brought about as a result of changes in circumstances (such as physical isolation, separation, bereavement), aging, or lack of friends and community.
Ongoing and acute feelings of loneliness can impact physical as well as mental health. It can lead to alcoholism, depression, stress, anxiety, impaired cognitive functioning, or cardiovascular disease. So how can one address the intense, empty and (at times) overwhelming feeling of loneliness?
Feeling all alone in this vast universe is something we all experience, but it does not have to be a dark, bleak ordeal. As Hellen Keller once said, “Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it”. By taking small, gentle steps, with self-love and self-compassion, we can use it as an opportunity to connect with our deeper selves and discover our strengths.
Gayatri Singh, Associate Counsellor
Master of Counselling (Monash University, Australia)
Provisional Clinical Member, SAC
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