An Epidemic called 'Loneliness'

In ‘A Tale of Two Cities’, Charles Dickens wrote: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity; it was the season of light, it was the  season of darkness; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

Words written in 1859 and yet they sum up brilliantly the times we’re living in. If I could add anything to that classic quote to describe our current reality, it would be: “it was the age of camaraderie, it was the age of loneliness.’

Even as families learn to spend more time together…even as we reach out to lend a helping hand…even as we look inwards and re-connect with our true selves…In the midst of it all, a new epidemic is born. An epidemic of loneliness. An epidemic of emotional distancing.

So, how does one navigate this crushing loneliness? Below are three suggestions:

1) Build a Family Tree

If you’ve never been interested in genealogy (tracing your ancestors) before, now’s a good time to explore it. There are many genealogy websites where you can do just that. You are the legacy of a long line-up of hardy ancestors who lived through ‘the best of times, the worst of times’, who overcame unimaginable hardships and bravely faced harsh living conditions. You are here because of them. When you recognise that you’re part of a rich heritage of unsung warriors, you no longer feel alone.

2) Plan your next holiday

If you think that actually going on a holiday is the greatest fun, think again. Planning a holiday can easily rank higher on the fun barometer. While booking a vacation is impossible in these times, you can certainly start thinking about where you’d like to go when things go back to normal – physically, emotionally and financially. Read up on tourist attractions in the city you’d like to visit. Their most popular restaurants. Their tucked-away shopping paradise. Their museums and art galleries. Planning and researching will soothe your soul and reduce the sense of loneliness.

3) Understand the WHY

Emotional distancing can crush our mental well-being unless we allow ourselves to attribute a sense of meaning and purpose to our current reality. Every time you find yourself drowning in a spiral of loneliness, remind yourself of why you’re practising isolation. It is so that you can keep yourself and the people you love out of harm’s way. And in doing so, keeping the larger community safe.

While this may seem like ‘the winter of despair’ Dickens described more than a hundred years ago, remember that ‘the spring of hope’ is not too far away.