Corona and Single: The fear of chronic loneliness

Corona and single
The fear of chronic loneliness

© evrymmnt / Shutterstock

Loneliness can affect anyone. Singles are particularly at risk in the corona pandemic, because: Social distancing, home office and lockdown – for months – bring this feeling to a completely new level.

Loneliness is a signal from the body like hunger. This is what the US loneliness researcher John Cacioppo assumes. The feeling tells you that you need to take care of your social contacts. They are important for your well-being and protect you.

But how should that work in the corona pandemic? At a time when social distancing, home office and lockdown weeks make social contacts – especially for singles – almost impossible? And suddenly she knocks on the door: the fear of loneliness.

Corona: More and more singles feel lonely

It is not an insignificant number of single households that are particularly troubled by loneliness during the corona crisis. According to the "Federal Statistical Office", around 17.6 million people lived alone in 2019 – and the trend is rising.

Despite digital networking and population growth in cities: The feeling of loneliness is growing. According to "ARD-DeutschlandTrend", more than half of the German population saw loneliness as a major problem as early as 2018. According to a study by the online dating agency "Parship", every third single is said to have suffered from loneliness in the corona crisis in spring 2020.

One can only guess what percentage of the singles it is in January 2021. What can be observed, however, is that more and more people are expressing themselves on Instagram – and many people in their private lives certainly know at least one person who is affected by loneliness. But what does that do to you?

Alone becomes lonely: Singles and the need for closeness

Thousands of years ago, community meant survival, while being alone meant death. Of course it's not that bad anymore. But life has been upside down for almost a year: Singles live in social isolation. Home office? For many everyday. Physical contact with friends and family? In short supply. Appointment on a date? Difficult. At the moment there are hardly any opportunities to meet, get to know or date others. People depend on relationships.

The basic biological need for human closeness cannot be met. The feeling of voluntary loneliness can quickly develop into a feeling of involuntary loneliness. Alone and loneliness are not the same. You can be happy alone, but feel lonely around many people. Loneliness is a subjective negative feeling.

Chronic loneliness: what exactly is it?

If people feel lonely, they withdraw more and more. Calls, messages, and meetings are decreasing and their social contacts are dwindling as a result. The loneliness spreads further and further in life. The corona measures also exacerbate the feeling. In addition, there are disgruntled thoughts like: "The others don't want anything from me anyway". This can lead to a permanent feeling of loneliness that can become harmful.

Important note for those affected:
Do you suffer from depression, have thoughts of suicide or do you know someone who has voiced them before? The telephone counseling offers help. It is anonymous, free and available around the clock at 0800/1110111 and 0800/1110222.
A list of nationwide aid agencies can be found on the website of the German Society for Suicide Prevention.

Corona lockdown guide for singles

But it doesn't have to come to that. There are many measures that singles can take to counteract the risk of chronic loneliness during the corona lockdown.

  • Pay attention to basic needs: Whether single or not: So that you have enough energy for everyday life, you should sleep, eat, drink enough, look after yourself and maintain your social contacts.
  • Structure everyday life: You can do the above better if you structure every day and write yourself a to-do list for it.
  • Maintain contacts:Even if you find it difficult: Maintain regular contact with your loved ones. Call them, arrange to go for walks or a digital meeting via a video platform.
  • Create self-care routines: Regularly transform your bathroom into a wellness oasis, watch your favorite series the whole evening or really spend your time jogging. Do everything that is good for you.
  • Control news consumption: Only consume trusted messages for up to 15 minutes a day, nothing more.
  • Check vitamin D.: Many suffer from a deficiency that can lead to depressive moods, especially in winter when there is little sunlight.
  • Allow yourself to be weak: Do you feel drained, less productive and tired? That's OK! Don't be too strict with yourself, but also take care not to work too much, for example.
  • If all of the above doesn't help: Get professional help in the form of therapy or if it is acute, dial the free, anonymous number of Telephone counseling: 0800/1110111 and 0800/1110222.

Sources used:Things explained – in short: loneliness, online Stangl lexicon: loneliness, Tagesschau, Welt, Parship press release, Federal Statistical Office