Relationships Play A Vital Role in Disarming Loneliness
"The most terrible poverty is loneliness and the feeling of being unloved." Mother Teresa
Isolation and loneliness are detrimental to our well-being. We were not created to live in isolation. During this time of social isolation, many people are feeling it's harmful effects on their health. According to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), 20% of Americans feel socially isolated and lonely. The ensuing harm to one's health is the equivalent of smoking 15 cigarettes a day (HSRA, 2019). This research was compiled before the shock of the COVID-19 pandemic. One can only conjecture that these statistics will increase significantly through the remainder of the pandemic.
Community is one of the most powerful and effective ways to treat loneliness. This includes activities, such as regularly connecting with family and friends, group activities, playing with our pets, and peer support groups. Group activities can look like our small group Bible study, participating in group exercises, a painting class, or other special interests. We can make time to walk and talk with our friends in person, jog, run, or even cycle together.
Applying the appropriate skills-based tools can also be beneficial toward guiding us through times of isolation and loneliness. Mindfulness is a popular therapeutic technique that therapist and mental health professionals use to help their clients navigate stress, anxiety, and depression. Being purposeful in developing friendships, goal setting, and self-care can help us become more aware of our needs. Our relationships play a vital role in our long-term well-being.
A technique used in counseling is to reappraise and reassess one's circumstances. This technique does not dismiss or ignore the reality of one's situation, but if we process our circumstances through our faith and Who is in control, the harm is disarmed and we find peace through the power of the Holy Spirit. Practicing the presence of God may look like a prayerful conversation, contemplating on scriptures you find particularly meaningful, and asking God to deepen your growth and maturity in Christ.
We need to remember we are never alone. God is always with us. He is always present. He is our comfort in times of difficulty. He is the One we turn to in all circumstances. God reassures us in His Holy Word, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5, NIV). To respond in times of difficulty as Christians is to keep our eyes centered on God, engaging with our Heavenly Father through an intimate relationship.
Our identity is in Christ and through Him we find our purpose and hope. We can help others by being intentional in reaching out to them and seeing them through the eyes of Christ, with love, understanding, and kindness. All people want to be seen, loved, and valued.
Are you experiencing loneliness? Do you experience emotional withdrawal, burnout, or fatigue? Begin by assessing your level of loneliness: Level of Loneliness Test
Assess: Are there changes you can make in your environment to help cultivate connections?
1. Spend time with God every day
2. Create opportunities to build relationships
3. Establish a work-life-balance
4. Practice daily self-care
5. Acknowledge your feelings
6. Get out, stay active
7. Keep a gratitude journal
8. Learn a new hobby
9. Remember this season is temporary
What are the elements you are building into your life that are promoting your well-being and inviting opportunities for relationships? I am an extrovert and a social butterfly. I love people and hanging out with them. Connecting with family and friends on a daily basis is important to me. For me, every day begins in prayer. I enjoy preparing a healthy breakfast for my husband and myself. Together we walk our dog every morning. Although I am not always able to meet with my small group Bible study in-person due to the quarantine, I see them virtually every week and we also hang-out (social distancing) on coffee dates or walks. I just walked this morning with one of my friends and we got 8,000 steps in. Yay! I keep a schedule that is balanced and brings me happiness and peace. I take care of myself daily and get plenty of sleep. I read daily, develop my personal and professional growth, listen to music, and enjoy both outdoor activities and virtual events, as well. Most importantly, I stay positive and remind myself that this shelter-in-place is only temporary.
What social activities are you involved in and how are you being purposeful in building strong relationships?
What skills-based tools are you using to overcome isolation and loneliness?
How are you practicing the presence and power of God to lead you to deepen and grow your walk in Christ?
"Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7, NKJ
Jones, Ian. "Never Alone...An Audience Of One." Christian Counseling Today, Vol. 24 No. 3, 22-25