In the Spotlight: How to Navigate Feelings of Loneliness and Connection This Quarter
Discovering and working to meet our social needs is an integral part of well-being, though it feels like we’re a bit out of practice, no? I know I want to connect with people, but I think I forgot how to do this, is that possible?! Yes, it’s totally possible, and it’s what many of us feel at this point in time!
We’re starved for community, and two plus years of pandemic living have trained our weariness of people gathering in large groups. We’re looking to connect deeply, be truly seen by another, but our capacity to enter these spaces of vulnerability is a bit diminished. What can we do?
Recognize that there are healthy and unhealthy experiences of both connectedness and isolation. There is not a singular way of experiencing any of these. Your identities, cultural background, and personal history will influence how you think about connectedness and isolation. Consider both your cultural/family lens and your individual boundaries so that you find your sense of belonging.
If you find yourself experiencing feelings of loneliness…
Accept yourself and what is happening for you.
Whether you experience social anxiety, miss your family/friends back home, or are hesitant to attend social events, know these feelings are normal. You may feel lonely and isolated right now, but these feelings are temporary. Others are feeling the same thing, and they also long for connection.
Move towards connection.
Break the cycle. What can you do to move away from toxic loneliness? Reach out to a couple of people you trust and let them know a little bit about what you’re feeling. Take the risk of stepping into vulnerability and find that even those who seem like they have it all together are struggling and in need of connection.
Assess your particular needs for connection.
Us humans are hardwired for connection, but that doesn’t mean we all define it in the same way, or have the same needs when it comes to managing loneliness. Try not to pathologize yourself or your experiences, and focus on what feels right for you in the moment. Consider these reflections as you assess your specific needs:
- For me, what kind of togetherness creates feelings of connection?
- Am I feeling overwhelmed by recent social situations, cooped up with family/friends, and needing some time alone to recharge?
- How do feelings of loneliness arise in me, what shape do they take, and at what point do the feelings start to feel unhealthy?
Written by: Colin Campbell, ‘11, Well-Being at Stanford
- Community Centers Seven community and cultural centers are available on campus and grounded in values of justice, equity, and belonging to empower you to be a bold collaborator and innovative leader with the most vulnerable in mind.
- Office for Religious and Spiritual Life This office seeks to guide, nurture, and enhance spiritual and religious life by fostering space where all feel welcome, included, and represented. Spiritual counseling, including one-on-one support, is available.
- Office of Student Engagement This office houses and manages all the student organizations on campus: there are over 600. Joining an organization helps form a sense of community and belonging.
- Weiland Health Initiative Seeks to promote mental health and wellness across the spectrum of gender identities and sexual orientations through education, training, and clinical services at Stanford and beyond.
- How to Create Meaningful Connection with Almost Anyone Medium (8 minutes)
- 4 Ways to Soften Loneliness The Calm App (2 minutes)