How to overcome isolation and loneliness as a remote worker

Three strategies for dealing with isolation and loneliness

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Photo credit: Kevin Delvecchio

Working remotely gives us the flexibility to choose when and where we work. So, why is it that some remote professionals struggle with isolation and loneliness, while others don’t?

One thing that we all have in common is a desire to connect with others.

As Brené Brown, shares in her book Daring Greatly:

“Connection is why we’re here. We are hardwired to connect with others, it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives, and without it there is suffering.”

The difference is how we gain our energy and understanding your energy can help you reduce feelings of loneliness while working remotely.

Here are three techniques to overcome the lack of social interaction and feeling isolated if you work remotely.

1. Ask yourself “how do I gain my energy?”

Your energy is how much power you have to get things done and how you feel during the day.

Think of energy like the battery bar at the top of your mobile phone’s screen. As you use your phone during the day and into the night, then the battery drains and eventually, you need to plug in your phone to charge it up.

Imagine this scenario: it’s a Wednesday afternoon, and you’ve just wrapped up a 1-hour video call with a group of team members.

How do you feel at that moment?

If you gravitate towards being an introvert, then you may feel drained and need to recharge. And if you are more of an extrovert, then you may feel full of energy.

It matters to know how you gain your energy so you can spend time taking part in activities that lift your energy.

2. Join and engage in a few online communities for people just like you

An online community is a great way to engage with like-minded people regardless of where you are located in the world. When you’ve found a community for you, then you’ll find yourself saying something like this: “these people really get me!”

In Chip and Dan Heath’s book Switch they talk about how interest affects us:

“The positive emotion of interest broadens what we want to investigate. When we’re interested, we want to get involved, to learn new things, to tackle new experiences. We become more open to new ideas.”

If you are wondering where to begin, then an excellent place to start is to think about 3 of your favorite hobbies and run a Google search for online communities around those topics. Then take 15 minutes to explore them and get involved by engaging in some current discussions.

And if you aren’t excited or too fond of your hobbies, then take one minute to think about this question:

What is something that I could get completely absorbed in, so focused…that I lose myself and the sense of time?

Then explore some of those communities and see how you feel about them. Positive emotions like curiosity and happiness mean that you are onto something good.

3. Plan social events early in the week

When you work remotely, you could find yourself not leaving your home for days at a time.

To prevent that from happening too often, plan events with family and friends early in the week — keeping in mind how you gain your energy. That way, you can stay in touch with people that you care about even if you are a busy professional.

Daniel Kahneman describes how interactions with people that we care about can affect our happiness in his book Thinking, Fast and Slow:

“Not surprisingly, a headache will make a person miserable, and the second best predictor of the feelings of the day is whether a person did or did not have contacts with friends or relatives. It is only a slight exaggeration to say that happiness is the experience of spending time with people you love and who love you.”

Meetup.com is a great place to meet new people. And dropping in at a nearby coffee shop, cafe, or coworking center can also help since you’ll be around people.

Three keys for dealing with isolation and loneliness as someone that works remotely are:

  1. Ask yourself “how do I gain my energy?”
  2. Join and engage in a few online communities for people just like you
  3. Plan social events early in the week

Whether you work from home or remotely from another location, remember that being connected to others is essential — it’s part of human nature to share in experiences.

You can connect with people through an online community around one of your favorite interests or even catch up with friends for dinner and in doing so reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness as a remote worker.

When you think about isolation and loneliness, how does that make you feel?

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