June 12, 2020

Two weeks ago, a close friend told me that she had reconnected with a guy she met on Tinder. Prior to that, they had gone out on two unremarkable dates. He looked nothing like his pictures, and after she refused to hold his sweaty palms, he became calculative (down to the last cent) when it was time to foot the bill. Despite the lack of chemistry and his arrogance, which was a turn-off, Sarah* has been chatting with him regularly on WhatsApp—admitting that staying at home has exacerbated feelings of loneliness.

I have known Sarah to be an introvert. A week into the circuit breaker, she gleefully told me she was loved curling up at home to watch Netflix by herself. But, what I’ve come to realise is that introverts like her, do get lonely, too. And extroverts like myself, are not the only ones suffering during this lockdown from the lack of human contact.

Regardless of personality, humans beings are social creatures and we thrive on meaningful connections. You can be in a relationship, yet still feel lonely, if you don’t feel heard or understood by your partner. You can walk on the streets of New York City and be in a crowd full of people, yet still feel lonely. Loneliness is more than just being physically apart from people; it can stem from being emotionally excluded by others as well. If you have been craving for companionship and emotional support over the past two months of sheltering in place, here are four ways to combat loneliness.

Participate in Online Group Classes

Try engaging in a group activity like a dance or fitness class, to stay connected with people who share common interests with you. Exercising together builds a sense of camaraderie and reminds us that we are all in the same boat. LA-based Ballerina Patricia Zhou started her own ballet classes on Instagram in early April to help dancers keep up with their practices regularly and to connect with the international ballet community. While American ballet brand Gaynor Minden has been inviting ballet artistes and personalities to conduct dance classes on Instagram Live. Even if you are too lazy to commit to a class, simply watching a video can spark an emotional connection (as long as you have a genuine interest in the content).

Create Something New

Have you ever been so immersed in your something that you lost the sense of time? Including your surroundings? That means you are “in the zone”—which is an almost meditative state where your mind is only focused on the task at hand and free from external distractions. Use this spare time to express yourself through drawing, writing, or painting, which can not only be cathartic but also empowering. Get creative and playful in the kitchen too—who knows, you might just inadvertently discover a new way of cooking eggs using your Philips air fryer. And besides, if literature’s most renowned castaway Robinson Crusoe could survive on his own for 28 years by growing crops and hunting for food, what is another month of staying at home?

Read a Good Book

A marvellous novel can whisk you away from the tedium of confinement to a dreamlike realm of wonders. Reading also enhances our ability to empathise with others and helps us to connect with our inner selves through characters that resonate with us. Check out Kevin Kwan’s latest novel, Sex and Vanity, a compelling modern romance that follows protagonist Lucie Churchill on her rip-roaring escapades, as she is torn between her family’s expectations and falling for the dashing George Zao. Or dive deep into Emma Donoghue’s Pull of the Stars, a gripping tale of survival and triumph over loss that offers readers a positive message of hope. The novel, set in Ireland, depicts a world ravaged by a pandemic and how three women who work in a quarantine ward inspire joy in times of darkness.

Practise Self-Love 

Before Covid-19 hit, everyone constantly had FOMO. But these days, people are embracing JOMO. And part of that is being good to ourselves like learning how to be in tune with our well-being and happiness. When we become our own best friend, we begin to attract positive relationships and reject toxic ones. Remove any negative self-talk and reframe narratives of doubt that may impede our joy by replacing them with positive ones. Finally, resist the urge to compare yourself with others and be forgiving to yourself when things don’t go as planned.