The worldwide spread of (COVID-19 and the resulting lockdown has affected the whole world. Social isolation has exacerbated feelings of loneliness in many people. Loneliness can negatively affect health and wellbeing. Self-compassion helps to fight loneliness because it provides a way to connect with oneself. Taking meaningful steps to practice self-compassion is more crucial now than ever before.
How are self-compassion and loneliness linked?
Studies of self-compassion and loneliness show an indirect link between the two. Loneliness is associated with higher rates of anxiety and depression, while self-compassion is associated with lower rates of anxiety and depression. Providing social support, coping mechanisms, and mental health services is essential post- pandemic to prevent extreme adverse effects on mental health.
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What causes loneliness?
Loneliness often results from feelings of being inadequate at making meaningful connections and forming relationships. Low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and dissatisfaction with one’s life are risk factors for developing loneliness.
Loneliness is different from solitude. Loneliness is typically a negative feeling, while experiencing solitude or being alone can be restorative and have a positive effect on wellbeing. People often purposefully seek out solitude, whereas loneliness is undesired.
A popular approach to addressing loneliness is psychosocial interventions. These often incorporate community-based treatment and peer support. This can be done online and face-to-face, in group settings or alone with a therapist. These interventions are often short-lived. Peer support programs also have an immediate effect, but the results are often not sustained over the long term.
General wellness techniques
General wellness interventions aim to improve overall well-being through changes in behavior, nutrition, physical activity, mindfulness and other health-related behavior. These techniques can have a considerable impact on loneliness.
Resilience is the ability to cope and recover from difficulties quickly and is pivotal for dealing with stress and uncertain situations. Resilience-based interventions often include cognitive skills, mindfulness, practicing gratitude and self-compassion skills.
What is self-compassion?
Self-compassion is treating oneself gently and with kindness. It means caring for oneself in the face of perceived difficulties, hardships, or failures. Self-kindness, common humanity and mindfulness are essential elements of self-compassion.
When you practice self-compassion, you have the ability to understand and forgive yourself. You realize that all people fail and have hardships as part of the human experience. Mindfulness is to be mindfully aware of your feelings without judging yourself for having them.
What can self-compassion do for you?
Self-compassion interventions can reduce anxiety and depression. They encourage positive thinking and coping mechanisms.
Self-compassion gives you more life satisfaction, social connections, happiness and lower levels of self-criticism, anxiety and depression. As it enhances your perception of social connections, it can help you to deal with loneliness. You feel closer and more connected to others when you practice self-compassion.
Techniques to stimulate self-compassion
In a self-compassion writing intervention, participants who wrote about a negative event and responded to themselves with self-compassion experienced reduced anxiety.
Meditation, self-talk, and journaling are other techniques to induce self-compassion. When you become aware of your thought patterns, self-talk can take you out of what may be a negative downward spiral. Writing interventions, in particular, seem to help you to judge yourself less in social situations and disengage from negative emotions quickly.
Doing activities that give you more of a sense of control and achievement can help to deal with loneliness and lead to more happiness. Focusing on caring for others is another way to cope with loneliness and give you a sense of purpose.