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on March 31, 2019 on 3/31/19 from

Coping with Feelings of Loneliness

While abroad or not, even when you are constantly surrounded by your friends and peers, we know it is common to feel periods of loneliness. Even when we know that we’re enjoying ourselves, there are periods where you feel totally alone, or that you may not want to be alone. I’d like to dive into this topic for this week’s post, as I have been working around this challenge for the past couple of weeks. If you have been caught up in my posts, you may have already realize that I dive into a similar topic, but this post will focus more on my recent situation and what I have done to work around it.

I would say that the most obvious sign of my loneliness is often feeling disconnected with my peers, as though a string connecting us had been cut. I know this is due to my recent feelings because I did not feel this way a month ago. I’m also unable to pinpoint a specific instance when this feeling started, and I cannot give a reason why I’m feeling this way. Despite this, I try my best to avoid isolation. After classes would end, I’d still go with my classmates to our usual lounge area to hang out. I’d still have conversations with others. In all honesty, I’d still be enjoying myself. But I know that isolation remains.

 

Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto prefecture. To combat with my feelings, I ended up going to the shrine alone, but being surrounded by so many others enjoying the shrine had kept my mood at a fairly stable balance.

The isolation felt between me and my closest friends, I think, has been the most challenging aspect of this, and I assume that others have often felt the same emotion. With a mixture of us all having busy schedules to time zone differences, I haven’t been able to contact my close friends (and my family as well) very often. Not being able to talk the people you’re close to as much as you’d like is definitely one of the hardest things I’ve had to get used to while abroad. However, I know they feel the same way. Earlier this week, I was in a slump, constantly thinking about how my friends back home didn’t care for me as much as they used to and didn’t want to hear anything I had to say. Soon after, I realized that what I was thinking was ridiculous! Why would me being abroad change the way those closest to me think about me? There’s no way that would happen! Even if I didn’t believe it at the moment, after reminding myself this for the past week, my mood has begun to improve.

I guess I would say to those who are struggling with loneliness right now, abroad or not, is to stay close to the people you enjoy being around. Even if you don’t want to speak at all, or really engage in some sort of activity, I find that simply being around others you like has a better effect than staying alone. Telling yourself, too, to look at the positives is also a good strategy to use. Even “lying” to yourself can improve your mood. I have done this with the example of my close friends. In the moment, even if I don’t believe it to really be true at all, I still tell myself that my friends do want to hear from me. Inviting positive thoughts and calling out the negative ones is a fairly new coping mechanism for me, but I find it to be working. I hope others, too, may try this method and see how it works for them.