A Calmer You, by Sonal Kalra: Lonely, do you feel Mr or Ms Lonely sometimes? With no body, no more?
Things may seem hopeless right now, but you still always have the wisdom to understand that the cause of your loneliness need not be permanent. Why feel lonely, when the world has such magic to offer.Updated: Oct 24, 2020, 17:44 IST
Did you know that UK has an official Minister of Loneliness? I’m not kidding, you can check it out on the Internet. Considering that millions of people in Britain have reported feeling lonely and hence depressed, this is quite a leap in understanding the significance of mental health in their country. For us in India, digesting the creation of such a ministry can’t be easy, what with nosy neighbours and noisy relatives ensuring little loneliness in desi life.
Seriously though, it is a fact beyond argument that being lonely is among the saddest mental states to be in. I have a young man in my team whose otherwise amazing wit has been totally washed out with gloom after a recent break-up. Then, there is this aged lady in the neighbourhood. She lost her husband many years ago, and the only son lives elsewhere with his wife and kids. The woman is so full of life, running errands through the day, but every evening, I see a gloomy shadow of loneliness engulf her spirit. No matter what age or stage you are in, feeling lonely day after day is rather undesirable, but sometimes beyond our control. But you know what, whether the reason for your loneliness is simply moving out of a certain social circle due to compulsions like studies or job, or a more painful end of companionship due to a breakup, divorce or death, there are ways you can completely cope with it. Let us look at some simple, actionable steps:
1. New connections: No matter how hopeless things seem right now, you still always have the wisdom to understand that the cause of your loneliness need not be permanent. If you or your friends have stopped hanging out for any reason, there’s always scope to make new connections. But new connections need not be exact replacements for old associations. It won’t do you good to compare new friendships and relationships with those that have ended. Every new friend, every new partner is different, and deserves that you treat them that way. If you get the trick of looking at every new connection like a new opportunity and a new beginning, you are not likely to stay lonely for long.
2. Join a group: A conventional club or an online forum, a group of morning walkers in the park to a singles night at the bar — this world is full of places to join a bunch of like-minded people. All you need to do is choose them according to your interest areas. And honestly, from joining a photography course to a Zumba class, book club or a music group — there is nothing that’s now not easily accessible, in the biggest of cities and the smallest of towns. Specific to your ability, location and interest, these groups are aplenty and within easy reach through social media. A single, new-to-the-city friend of mine recently attended a baking session for a day, and her partner was an 89-year-old former Army man. They also had a set of seven-year-old twins attending the session, having as much fun. Where’s the time to sit and cry lonely, she asks.
3. Value animals… And sunshine: Sounds a bit disjointed, but there’s immense possibility in having these two things in your life. Pets provide unconditional affection, and there’s no better remedy for loneliness than instant and consistent love. Keep one at home if you can, or else, visit animal shelters to volunteer or just watch. It takes away tonnes of stress from life. Talking of stress, staying indoors and lying down on your bed cursing life will not help things. There is scientific evidence that catching a bit of sunlight everyday works like magic on your physical and mental health. Open those windows, natural light and air heal way better than the best pills in the world.
I could go on about things like music and other therapeutic stuff, but you got the drift. This is stuff you already know about. But what matters here is realising, more than merely acknowledging their power to make things better. The biggest hurdle, to my mind, is the thought that any of the above are things we can’t do, for whatever reason. If you make up your mind, you can chase away loneliness whether you are 20, 50 or 90 years old, whether you are male, female, transgender, whether you are an extrovert or shy, straight or gay, rich or broke. Start today.
Sonal Kalra told Chaddha ji about the Ministry of Loneliness and he thought it’s the name of an escort service. He is the Prime Minister of Stupidity.