Feeling Lonely this Summer? You Are Not Alone
After two years of coronavirus isolation and loss, we suddenly see the arrival of summer and hopefully look forward to a return to normalcy. Businesses and restaurants are reopening, vacations are being planned, family reunions are in full swing, kids are away enjoying camp, and life is resuming to pre-pandemic routines.
But this summer of 2022, reality is hitting us as we are trying to move forward. Our desire for a full return to “business as usual” has been tampered by the realization that the pandemic has changed our lives and there is no clear blueprint on how to feel comfortable especially with Covid lingering.
Summer has always been a season of high expectations; end of school, beginning of travel season, warm weather, beaches, and pools reopening, less structure, kids and friends away, longer days, balmy nights, more free time… But those high expectations often can put a lot of unnecessary social pressure and result in feelings of loneliness when goals are not met. In addition, coupled with the reality of the current “post” pandemic environment, it can somehow be even harder to manage. When reality hits with its daily dose of news that produces constant anxiety and stress that includes a new Omicron variant, war in Ukraine, guns and violence, abortion ban, world hunger, political polarization, climate change, inflation and on and on…
Therefore, in a summer like no other, we must develop and sharpen multifaceted coping skills. We must first find the one thing that matters most, that brings us joy, the one thing that we are grateful for, even small experiences such as going to the beach, swimming, gardening, meditating, and taking walks in nature, listening to birds chirping, taking in the beauty of summer colors and nature around us. Then we can slowly build on this with additional things that matter to us. Be mindful and pay attention to prioritizing what truly matters most and what brings the most joy.
Surely, these activities can be done alone or in the company of friends or family. Either way, due to lack of structure, they can also increase a feeling of summer loneliness. You can be alone and lonely, or you may also be surrounded by people and still be unable to reach out and connect with them, and experience internal despair regardless of the shining summer sun. Summer loneliness is a very common recurring feeling, but it can also be a great self-reflective and constructive moment. Loneliness can teach you about yourself, about the kind of relationships you want, and the friendships that serve or complement your needs. Do you want and truly enjoy constant social events and multiple friends, or do you prefer having a dinner tray alone in front of the TV or dinner with just one person that you truly respect?
It is important to remember that you are not alone in your feelings. Summer is often an adjustment for many others too. Opening up and communicating your feelings to those who make you feel safe and cared for can help normalize your feelings. Is there anyone that you would feel comfortable connecting with and opening up to about your thoughts and emotions? Family? Friends? Clergy? A therapist? One or more of these options are hopefully available to you.
August has traditionally been known as the month that therapists leave town to recharge. Sometimes it serves the patient as a month of independent growth, or, on the other hand, if the need arises, it is possible to reach a therapist at the Midtown Practice for additional support. Covid that has taught us to offer supportive professional therapy and connection remotely.
But in any case, try to enjoy the beautiful long summer days, the delights of the season and try to de-stress, relax, and go with the flow because the rigor of the fall calendar will soon be upon us.