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As the weeks get colder, the days get darker and shorter and we start to spend more time indoors the creeping feeling of loneliness arises for many. In the past year this was exacerbated by global lockdowns and stay-at-home orders preventing many of us from seeing family and friends. But even now, with many of those restrictions lifted, loneliness persists. 

It may be the uninvited guest knocking on your window or lurking in the corners of your bedroom. It’s a haunting, almost omnipresent feeling and ironically, you are not alone in feeling it. I want to start by validating any feelings of loneliness you may have and reminding you it is not a sign of failure. Rather it’s a sign of being a human, wired for connection, in a world that sometimes impedes it. 

Social media is often touted as the “solution” to loneliness, allowing you to connect with people around the world. However, sometimes our social media driven society can leave you feeling empty and longing for genuine connection. A shoulder to cry on or arms to fall in to at the end of a long day. Especially with the “comparison trap” that social media encourages, you may find yourself thinking “I’m the only one who feels this way” while scrolling through other people’s highlight reels. 

The tricky thing about loneliness is there is not an easy fix. You can’t binge, restrict, purge or exercise away the feeling (or any negative emotions for that matter). The only through it is through it. And though that feels daunting and exhausting, you are stronger than you think and can come out the other end. Instead of turning toward body-punishing behavior or other harmful coping mechanisms, try sitting with the feeling – get still, breathe and listen to what loneliness may be trying to communicate to you.

While sitting with the feeling of loneliness it may help to try some of these journaling prompts:

  • Here is what is going on for me right now:
  • Here is where I’m feeling the loneliness in my body: 
  • The last time I felt this way:
  • The loneliness is showing me that this needs to change or shift: 
  • What I would like to try to accept about this loneliness is:
  • My inner critic is telling me that this loneliness means:
  • What I REALLY need to hear (or remind myself of) is: 

This type of reflection helps you to be more present in your mind and body, and recognize that while painful this feeling is not forever, so how can you nurture yourself throughout it? Don’t forget, we are alone, together. 

Also, as a note you may have seen a post related to this on @drcolleenreichmann’s Instagram this weekend. Just as a reminder, we’re beginning to transition to more communication via our re-launched monthly newsletter and weekly blogs to allow for more authentic connection (without social media algorithms getting in the way!) and to share longer-form resources and information. We’ll be launching an Emotion of the Month column in the newsletter where you’ll find more helpful insights, similar to this post on loneliness! If you’re interested in learning more, check out our blogs or subscribe to the newsletter

By: Maddy Weingast, Assistant for Therapy for Eating Disorder and Body Image