By Colleen Qvist, Moderator and Master Coach
Boredom, loneliness, and depression aren't part of the picture when we think of our ideal life. But many people end up finding themselves in that position at one time or another. For some, it's due to a mental health diagnosis. Others face difficult life situations that leave them feeling burnt out and depressed. And if you've managed to make it through life without either of those, you've now lived through a global pandemic that turned life as we knew it upside down. Our Dealing with Depression, Boredom and Loneliness peer support group was formed to help, whether you're struggling with difficult life challenges or simply want to make sure you keep feeling your best.
A little about my story
While I currently work as a credentialed master coach, my career began in the medical field. I spent 20+ years working in medical device sales which made healthcare feel like home. Medical professionals can become sleep-deprived, disillusioned, socially alienated, disconnected, and disengaged. That's why I now work to help doctors and other medical professionals practice self-care, improve their relationships, manage stress, and enjoy their lives.
But I also know that it's not just medical professionals who are struggling in these areas. I see it everywhere.
It's the stay-at-home parent of young children who feels lonely and disconnected from the outside world. It's the CEO of the large corporation who has run themselves into the ground and no longer enjoys their life or work. Mental health plays a vital role in all of our lives, whether you have mild feelings of loneliness or have dealt with lifelong struggles with depression.
I care about people and, more importantly, helping people feel their best. That's why I joined Pay What You Can Peer Support. I want to help create a non-judgmental space for you to be vulnerable as you manage stress, find connection in life, achieve goals, and discover meaning in your life.
Who is the "Dealing with Depression, Boredom and Loneliness" Support Group For?
Our group "Dealing with Depression, Boredom and Loneliness" is for anyone who feels that those words fit their life. Before joining our group, you don't have to be diagnosed with a depressive disorder or hit a particularly low point in life. Instead, I am here to meet you where you are and help you identify the small steps and actions you can take each day to keep moving toward feeling mentally well.
This group is for you if you're looking for hope and want to know that you are not alone in your struggle. This group is also for you if you're feeling good and want to do the work necessary to make sure you keep feeling that way.
Understanding the mental health continuum
The term "mental health" has been getting much attention since the pandemic began. Everyone worldwide was forced to live through a situation we had no experience with and no example to follow. This led to many different anxiety levels, loneliness, boredom, and depression for people. But these aren't only things that we struggle with when hit with a worldwide pandemic. They are things that every person needs to be aware of.
When it comes to depression, our mental health should be viewed as a continuum. We have things like burnout, anxiety, and depression on one end. On the other end, we have mental wellness, where we are happy, safe, and feeling our best.
We are not assigned a spot on the continuum where we stay for the rest of our life. Instead, we are constantly moving back and forth due to internal and external factors.
Today you may feel at your best. However, tomorrow, it may be a gray, rainy day, and you struggle in a relationship, and things don't feel as good as they did today. When tough or trying times happen, we have a choice to make. We can allow ourselves to move further down the continuum toward depression or choose to do the things that help us feel the best we can.
Am I struggling with depression?
Most people tend to think of sadness when they hear the word depression, but feeling depressed can be so much more. Depression symptoms can impact your mental, emotional, and physical health. There are several different types of diagnosable depressive disorders. However, we tend to be most familiar with major depressive disorder, seasonal affective disorder (AKA seasonal depression), and postpartum depression. While the exact symptoms you experience may differ, there tend to be some commonalities between the types.
Here are some red flags to watch for in your life:
Feeling sad or hopeless
Feeling empty or emotionless
Increased anger or irritability
Changes in your sleep patterns
Worried or anxious
Changes in your appetite
Lack of energy or fatigue
Difficulty thinking or making decisions
Chronic pain such as headache, stomach or muscle fatigue
Feeling worthless, guilty, or ashamed
Not enjoying things you used to enjoy
Thoughts of self-harm
This is not an all-inclusive list of symptoms. If you believe you may be struggling with depression, I encourage you to contact a mental health professional or physician to explore your full treatment options. Therapy and/or medication may help you feel your best.
In addition, I invite you to join the Peer Support Group to find support and learn about suggestions and tools to overcome your symptoms and thrive.
Why do I feel bored?
The pandemic changed things for many people. Most of the activities we were engaged in came to a screeching halt, and we were left with not much to do. We cleaned closets, baked sourdough bread, and tried out TikTok, but those things could only carry us so far. Things didn't go back to "normal" for everyone as life restarted. Many people struggle with rediscovering hobbies, activities, and passion for working toward goals. If you're struggling, you're not alone.
Psychology Today shares that a growing number of scientists are beginning to study boredom. Some find that feeling bored is a signal that it's time for a change. Some of the causes they share for boredom include:
Having mental energy and wanting to engage in an activity
Struggling to focus on a task
Being in an environment where you can't choose what to focus your attention on
You likely understand feeling bored when stuck at home for months. But what do you do during those times when life seems like it should be good, but you still feel bored? In the peer support group for depression, boredom, and loneliness, we discuss things like identifying when you're bored, what makes you not feel bored, and strategies you can use to make meaningful changes.
How do I stop feeling lonely?
You don't need to be alone to feel lonely. You can be in the center of a crowded room of people you love and care about and still feel alone. Loneliness can impact people at any age.
One report found that one-third of adults over 45 and over feel lonely. In addition, older adults are at higher risk for loneliness due to losing loved ones, illness, difficulty hearing, and living alone. However, loneliness is also impacting the younger generations in a big way.
Healthline shared results from a study that found loneliness hits a high for many young adults when they leave college. This is a transitional time in life when young adults continue to discover who they are and what path their lives are headed. It's also a time when significant life transitions are taking place. Friends are starting to enter different stages of life as some stay in college to work on an advanced degree while others are finding jobs, getting married, and settling down. It can be hard to find "your" people during these transitions.
You may think you shouldn't feel lonely because you have hundreds of "friends" on social media, but these relationships don't carry the same level of connection as in-person relationships. Social media can also leave you more withdrawn as you struggle with feeling like you aren't "good enough" due to the perfectly posed pictures you see as you scroll.
Loneliness can bring with it a dangerous cycle. When you feel lonely, it can lead to depression. When you feel depressed, you may not want to make the same effort to go out or speak with others, which leads to increased loneliness. Therefore, it's essential to learn how to break the cycle, which we can help with through peer support.
How peer support helps people struggling with depression, boredom, or loneliness
Our online peer support groups for depression are not about receiving a diagnosis. There are no requirements that you have to meet to show up, benefit from, and contribute to the group. This group is for you if you are living with a depression diagnosis. It's also for you if you are feeling mildly depressed, bored or lonely for what seems to be no reason at all.
As mentioned above, you can join at any point in time. We are all constantly moving back and forth on the mental health continuum. Peer support can help you be proactive in working toward and continuing to feel your best.
During our sessions, we take inventory to find what place everyone currently finds themselves in. It doesn't help you hear all about going after your big life dreams and goals if you're struggling to motivate yourself to get dressed each morning. So, we meet you right where you are with no judgment.
Some of the ways that our peer support group for depression, boredom, and loneliness can help include:
Identify what activities help you feel connected with others
Learning to recognize the successes in your life
Getting familiar with how depression feels so you can recognize it
Choosing achievable goals to work toward
Creating daily habits that help you feel your best
Showing you that you're not alone in how you feel
It's not about focusing on how you got to where you are; it's about learning how to move out of your current state and make progress. We also focus on identifying specific actions you can take to continue forward movement. This helps stop you from sliding back into depression, boredom, or loneliness.
One step to move you closer to living your best life
The little actions we take in life can make a big difference. Let's use the example of losing weight. You don't gain a lot of weight all at once. It shows up as a little bit here and a little there. It's easy to miss it while it's happening. If you don't pay attention, it can feel like you wake up one morning and have gained 40 lbs. And no matter how much you want to lose it all at once, it doesn't work like that. It comes off the same way it came on—a little at a time.
Improving and maintaining your mental health is the same way. If you ignore it for too long, you may find yourself bored, lonely, or depressed. But you don't have to stay there. You can begin to learn strategies you can use daily to improve your mental and emotional health.
Joining our peer support group is one step you can take forward to live your best life. I excitedly look forward to you joining the group. Why? Because you matter, and I love to support people in moving forward and bringing joy back into their lives.