Lockdown. Quarantine. Stay-At-Home. Social-Distancing. Self-isolation.
Whatever you call it, we’ve now been doing it for a year. For some of us, the pandemic has provided time alone we didn’t realize we’d been craving. For others, it’s felt like a social prison sentence. Regardless of your introversion/extroversion levels, many have reported increased feelings of loneliness during the pandemic.
This sense of loneliness can be exacerbated by the feeling or thought that you have no friends. But what does “no friends” really mean? Maybe you had a solid friendship group before the pandemic and now you hardly ever talk to anyone in it. Perhaps you felt lonely even before the pandemic hit. Maybe you have a couple friends, but the pandemic has blocked you from from expanding your circle. Or perhaps it’s just you at the moment. It can look different for each person.
The “end” of the pandemic may be somewhere on the horizon, but it’s not over yet. If you’re feeling lonely and lacking in friends, this blog is for you. Read on for seven ways to cope when you have no friends in quarantine.
Limit Self-Blame: Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t have a ton of friends right now. We all go through seasons of life in which we feel lonely, and it isn’t a reflection on your worth or likability. When you start to notice self-criticism, blame, or other negative thought patterns, try interrupting the cycle by completing a thought record. And remember: “To everything, there is a season.” Accept if not embrace this season for what it is. It won’t last forever.
Join an Online Community: I know, I know, it’s on Zoom and you’re sick and tired of Zoom (or Skype, Facetime, Google Meet, etc.), but hear me out: Would engaging with others (albeit on a Zoom or phone call) for half an hour bring more to your life than spending two hours on TikTok (or whatever you currently do to pass the time)? If the answer is yes, consider switching up how you spend your time. Ask yourself what enriches you, and what is simply a distraction or habit?
For support and social interaction, consider joining an online group that meets on Zoom. Many support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), and Al-Anon have adjusted to holding meetings online. Or enroll in an online course at your local community college (choose a subject that will be fun and not more work/stress). Therapy clinics like Eddins Counseling Group offer a ton of great online therapy groups. Whether you you join a class, support group, or something else, you will learn something and meet other people who are likely searching for human connection, just like you.
Unplug from Social Media & Other Mental Energy Pits: Now more than ever we need to be mindful of how much screen time we’re ingesting. If you’re in school or work from home, chances are you are on your screen several hours a day (and likely suffering from Zoom burnout). Try to be intentional about how you use your screen time. Start by noticing how scrolling for a prolonged period of time makes you feel, during and afterwards. Remember: you only have so many hours in a day. Spend it doing something that makes you feel better, not worse.
Reach Out to People to Check In: People are feeling lonely, afraid, and the overall impact of living under a pandemic for a year. At the beginning of the pandemic, everyone was reaching out to each other, checking in to ask: “Hey, are you okay?” Just because it isn’t March 2020 anymore doesn’t meant people have fully adjusted to the new normal or are feeling great about it. Challenge yourself to reach out to someone once a week. This can be anybody: an old classmate, coworker, neighbor who moved away, teacher, cousin. You can say: “Hi (Their Name)! I was remembering (insert memory that involves them) and wondering how you are doing.” It may seem small, but you never know how a small exchange could impact another person…or you.
Become Your Own Best Friend: Sometimes when we’re alone, it’s an opportunity to learn to love and care for ourselves. Imagine a best friend. What would you want them to say to you if you told them you felt like you have no friends? Would they say “I’m coming right over!” and show up at your door a half hour later for a Johnny Depp movie marathon? Would they tell you to cry as much as you need to and listen with patience and compassion? Would they tell you to meet them for sushi at your favorite spot? Decide what a good friend would do in this situation and then…do it for yourself. Be your own good company. Sometimes you need to give yourself the thing you want so desperately for someone else to give you.
Do Some *Safe* Volunteer Work: The past year has been full of twists and turns. We can speculate, but the truth is we don’t know with 100 percent certainty what the next year will bring in terms of day-to-day life. Depending on how safe you feel (be honest with yourself about what your limitations are), consider taking on some volunteer or community service work (while using safety practices of course!). Maybe you want to volunteer at a vaccination site, talk to senior citizens, or care for animals at a shelter. Doing something for others has a way of getting you out of your own head and into the world around you. You might meet some cool people in the process. At the very least, it will get you out of the house for a good cause.
Talk to Someone Trained in Talking to People: Talking to someone about how you’re feeling can be healing. Check out some of the online therapy platforms like BetterHelp or TalkSpace. Open Path Collective can connect you with a therapist at a reduced rate ($30 per hour). There are also free peer support resources, like 7 cups. If you’re feeling suicidal or having thoughts of harming yourself, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. They’re available 24/7/365.
Whoever you are and whatever your situation, know that you are not the only person who feels lonely or that they aren’t exactly “killing it” in the friendship department at the moment. It’s okay to be where you are now. You are loveable. And you have the ability to be a great friend – to yourself and to others.
This site is for informational purposes only. It isn’t intended to diagnose or treat any mental health problems and is not intended as psychological advice.
© 2021 Gina Davis, PsyD. All rights reserved.