Lonely in the city: Will you keep a pet stone for company? - Hindustan Times
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Lonely in the city: Will you keep a pet stone for company?

By Ismat Tahseen
Apr 24, 2024 05:27 PM IST

A large number of South Koreans are taking to adopting pet stones — but here’s how you can find the right kind of ‘rock’ to lean on.

The best cities in the world may be thriving with busy roads, bustling malls, blinking hoardings and swarms of people, but all that crowd, lights and buzz is also a hotbed for loneliness. Isolation is rising in top metropolises, and it’s getting folks to lean on the most banal things for company. Take South Korea for instance, where a recent report unveiled how South Korean millennials are keeping a pet rock as company to combat burnout and pangs of loneliness. It’s a telling tale of how urban isolation and sadness is rampant everywhere, including back home.

In an offbeat trend, South Korean millennials are keeping pet rocks to help them deal with loneliness (For representational purposes only)(Adobe Stock )
In an offbeat trend, South Korean millennials are keeping pet rocks to help them deal with loneliness (For representational purposes only)(Adobe Stock )

Loss of authentic communication, a culprit

Seema Hingorrany, Clinical Psychologist and Trauma Expert, says, “In fast-paced metropolises we are seeing loneliness becoming a huge problem. Most people who complain of symptoms of depression and anxiety is because they are lonely. There are not many people around to co-regulate which is very important for our nervous system. When people realise that everybody is busy, you resort something which can be therapeutic, like having plants or stones around."

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Having a stone for company can help people ground themselves when they are lonely, says Seema Hingorrany, Clinical Psychologist and Trauma Expert(Shutterstock)
Having a stone for company can help people ground themselves when they are lonely, says Seema Hingorrany, Clinical Psychologist and Trauma Expert(Shutterstock)



Adds Dr Seema, "The psyche is, ‘I need something to ground myself when I am lonely’. So, this is a grounding technique, but it cannot be a replacement to co-regulation with humans. It’s okay to have a stone, which is calming for the nervous system, and which stops you from being scattered.”

 

She adds, “What has also led to this the loss of authentic connections. For instance, people will want to party with you and join you for drinks and dinner, but to talk about problems, nobody has time.”

Ways to deal with it

Feeling socially isolated can have a negative impact on health. Dr Sneha Sharma, Consultant-Psychiatrist, Aakash Healthcare, New Delhi, says, “Loneliness is becoming an epidemic and its consequences are far reaching. As individuals and societies continue to struggle with this crisis, there are some measures at an individual level to address feelings of loneliness.” She shares a 10-point plan:

1. Start doing chores that involve getting out of the house.

2. People believe that social interactions have to be always meaningful and deep to help combat loneliness. However, this isn’t entirely true. We are social animals and any verbal and non-verbal communications with other people help us in feeling connected and create sense of belonging. So, stepping out to get groceries/ dairy products/ fresh fruits and vegetables is important even if you are in a neighbourhood that’s new to you.

3. Identify people who are important and meaningful emotionally for you and invest time in a week to stay connected either via digital means or if possible, meet in person.

4. Convert loneliness into solitude. The difference in the two is that loneliness is often a negative experience while a person experiencing solitude enjoys their own company. Find things that you enjoy doing in your everyday life and start taking out time for those. For example, if you enjoy listening to podcasts, do that.

5. Invest in your health and wellness. Fill your day with some activities which are important for your mental and physical health. It leads to a sense of accomplishment and wellness.

6. Look at options of adopting pets, depending on your resources and situation. Pets can offer company and comfort and reduce feelings of isolation.

7. Develop a garden or get plants. By taking out time to care for something other than yourself, it will give joy and satisfaction.

8. Be out and about in nature/ outdoors whenever possible.

9. Try and volunteer for something locally, which will help you come across like-minded individuals.

10. Look for book clubs running clubs/art clubs and similar places that offer a chance to socialise in your locality.

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