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HomeHealth NewsExercises for fostering connection when one is alone.

Exercises for fostering connection when one is alone.

When we feel alone, our natural inclination is to withdraw. Dr. Alison Mahoney, a psychologist at Sydney’s St. Vincent’s hospital, explains, “Loneliness is associated with shame, so we tend to hide and avoid it.” “Which simply breeds loneliness… you get more disconnected.

“There is a misconception that feeling lonely is necessarily weak, but in reality, it is universal.”

Exercises for fostering connection when one is alone.

Loneliness occurs when the quantity and quality of social contacts fall short of our requirements; you might feel lonely while you are not alone, but you can also be alone without feeling lonely. The organizational network Ending Loneliness Australia, which aims to encourage social ties, says that one in four Australian adults are lonely.

Mahoney states that it is not a weakness. “We get hungry, we need food. Loneliness informs us of our need for connection.

Exercises for fostering connection when one is alone.
Senior vietnamese man sitting on sofa and reading new on his tablet computer

When feelings of loneliness develop, planning a quality catch-up on short notice is not always possible, but it is not the only answer.

Developing a flow

Sharon Westin, a resident of Melbourne, split from her husband during the pandemic. Now, her adolescent sons spend every other fortnight with her. During the periods without her children, she frequently feels lonely.

“I can go days without speaking to anyone because the majority of my daily job is completed via email. Now I am single, while the majority of my friends are in relationships or have families to manage. I also feel somewhat on the outside in this regard.”

The graphic designer finds her art activity to be therapeutic during such times. “Like meditation, painting induces a sensation of flow,” explains Westin. The act itself alleviates any feelings of loneliness I may have.

Studies conducted with international students and residents of elderly homes in Taiwan during the epidemic revealed that activities that allow people to have a sense of mastery and autonomy – i.e. flow – are connected with lower feelings of loneliness.

In a state of flow, people lose track of time because they are so engrossed in an activity. Ideally, a flow state requires work that is just difficult enough and that provides clear goals and feedback.

In addition to providing temporary respite, enjoying enjoyable solo activities might serve a greater purpose. “Reflective time alone – pursuing your hobbies, passions, and ideals – can help you connect with yourself,” adds Mahoney. When you know who you are, it is simpler to connect with others authentically.

Keeping the company of nature

Dr. Adrian Allen, a psychologist at the Healthy Mind Clinic in Sydney, states that activities such as walking and hiking are proven to have positive effects on mental health and may help divert “focus away from internal sentiments and thoughts of loneliness.”

A study published in Nature in 2021 indicated that people are more likely to feel lonely in densely populated locations, but a connection with nature can help alleviate these feelings.

This is something with which Hayley Iluka can identify. Iluka, a teacher, was previously an active surfer until her forties when she stopped.

Multiple bouts with cancer and other horrific occurrences throughout her youth left her with PTSD, despair, and anxiety. Every time she faced the sea, her PTSD told her that everything would kill her.


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