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Photo by Joshua Newton on Unsplash

This year has been tough for everyone — I know I’m certainly feeling it. Take a minute to check in with yourself. How are you feeling? Is there a chance you’re feeling more lonely? For some people, the answer to this question is obvious. Of course I feel lonely! your internal voice might be crying out. We’re in a pandemic! 

But for many of you, the temptation may be to ignore your feelings, especially as they grow more uncomfortable. We want to ‘put on a happy face’ and make the best of things. You haven’t gotten sick, you think to yourself. You haven’t lost your job — you like your home, and you even like working from home. You tell yourself you should be grateful! 

But you still can’t shake that feeling — something making you feel blue when you keep telling yourself you “should” feel fine.

Something I like to tell my clients (and often need to tell myself): Stop ‘shoulding’ on yourself! (Say it out loud 😉 ). There’s no ‘should’ when it comes to emotions. And when it comes to this moment in history we’re all living through? There’s no precedent! No matter how many ‘silver linings’ you find, remember that you probably haven’t seen friends or family nearly as often as you’re used to. Even introverts need companionship; we all need community. But in this pandemic, in our isolation, we’ve had to go through holidays, birthdays, special moments — all over Zoom calls!

Or…we’ve had to skip them altogether. 

We are social animals and this major change in our social circles has serious consequences, especially to our self-esteem. Interacting with your social circle is a major part of how you understand who you are. Without that important feedback, we feel less ourselves. It’s natural to feel lonely, confused, unsure, or just sad. Have grace with yourself if you find you’re feeling more melancholy or stressed.

Remember, the whole world has been affected by this pandemic. That means everyone in your social circle has seen less of their friends and family. They’ve certainly seen less of you! They miss you just like you miss them. Are there any friends or family you haven’t reached out to since everything closed down? Maybe it’s time to make a connection.

You owe it to yourself to have some extra patience as you go through this difficult time. Do what’s safe and healthy for you to maintain your social network for your own mental health, not to mention the health of your friends and family. Take care of yourself, be tender with your emotions, and find a way to express love to those you care about — even if it doesn’t come as naturally these days. Don’t give up on texts, calls, video chats, or Marco Polo, even if you don’t always feel like it — we all need connection, even now.

Especially now.