Pandemic burnout is a real thing. For The Wellness Edit series, we’ll be sharing articles that help readers deal with stress, cope with burnout by creating awareness and hopefully, inspiring others.
During the worst pandemic stages, when lockdowns were in force, everyone suddenly realised just how important friends, family and colleagues are. Then, when we couldn’t see anyone at all, many of us discovered loneliness for the first time.
But loneliness is something many of us experienced before and now after, the enforced isolation of the pandemic. People are social animals, and we need interaction with others to help us stay happy and healthy. According to a Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research report, “satisfying social relationships are essential for mental and physical well-being”.
“Since the time of dawn, loneliness is perceived as a global human phenomenon. Loneliness can lead to various psychiatric disorders like depression, alcohol abuse, child abuse, sleep problems, personality disorders and Alzheimer’s disease,” states the report.
“It also leads to various physical disorders like diabetes, autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and cardiovascular diseases like coronary heart disease, hypertension (HTN), obesity, physiological ageing, cancer, poor hearing and poor health.
“Left untended, loneliness can have serious consequences for the mental and physical health of people. Therefore it is important to intervene at the right time to prevent loneliness, so that physical and mental health of patients is maintained.”
Despite our busy lives, it can actually lead to loneliness. If every minute of your day is focused on work, you might be missing out on more intimate relationships, or restricting yourself to staying at home by yourself.
Tips for dealing with loneliness
But don’t panic; there are things you can do to help mitigate your loneliness. Maria Micha is a clinical mental health counsellor, hypnotherapist and corporate trainer with 24 years of clinical experience and has trained in the UK and the US. She has some useful tips for all of us to put into action to help deal with loneliness before it gets out of control.
“Try to find happiness within yourself. People who feel content and have a lot of hobbies, a happy list of things you would like to do - not the things that we’re all obliged to do. You will feel less lonely [if you have something to look forward to], says Ms Micha.
“If you disengage from the thought that you’re lonely and there is no one around at that particular moment, you may feel abandoned by your friends. [But] I can guarantee that your friends are feeling the same way.”
Ms Micha says just reach out and contact people you know, make the first move with a plan in mind. Even something as simple as meeting up for a walk or a meal can take the edge off your loneliness.
Another idea is to start planning: “Have a box of things that you would like to do. It could be projects, photos of places that you would like to go to, ideas for sewing… anything.”
You can also take the time out to learn something new, suggests Ms Micha. Picking up a new craft or hobby, joining a community group, volunteering for a charity group are all good ideas. Ms Micha also points out that many people took advantage of the recent lockdowns to start new side hustles or businesses or finally sign up to do their Masters degree.
“Most of us feel bored. We feel uninspired. We don’t get to see our friends. We can’t get to do all the things that we would do under normal circumstances. But if you use the extra time to recreate your life or to understand your true dreams, now you have the time to do all the things that you always wanted to do,” says Ms Micha.
“Loneliness is something that is unique to humans. And it’s a state of mind. So if you decide that you will no longer be lonely, your life will feel completely different.”
For more information about Maria Micha, go to mariamicha.com.sg. Maria Micha’s Counseling Center is located at 545 Orchard Road, Far East Shopping Center, 13-10 Singapore, Tel: 8189 6386.