Q&A: tackling loneliness on the mine site
By psychologist Angie Willcocks
Q: Hi Angie. I feel lonely when I'm working onsite. Any ideas on how I can deal with it?
A: Hi, I’m sorry to hear that you feel lonely. Loneliness is an uncomfortable feeling. Like all feelings, however, it doesn't tend to hang around for too long unless it is 'hung onto' with thinking. In my experience, people who talk about feeling lonely very often think lonely as well and this makes the feeling much more difficult to bear.
Here's an example: Let’s imagine that someone notices that they are feeling lonely (usually a sensation of 'emptiness' in the chest or stomach). This person then thinks something like "I’m so lonely" and may start thinking about the causes of this loneliness (such as "my family is far away", "I'm here all alone") and this then increases the feeling and makes it much more difficult to bear.
The technique that I suggest for managing uncomfortable feelings like loneliness is just to notice that the feeling is there in the body ("I feel lonely") and then watch the thoughts to make sure they don't 'grow' the feeling. I'm not talking about pop psychology 'positive thinking', I am just talking about noticing the feeling and choosing not to go down the path of thinking lonely as well.
The next step after noticing the feeling is to take some positive action. Listen to music, read a book, call a friend, play a computer game to take your mind off the feeling.
If you are interested in trying out this technique further you could buy a CD called Mindfulness Skills by Russ Harris (you can buy it online). Russ Harris has also written a book called The Happiness Trap that talks more about managing thoughts and feelings in this way.
I hope this helps!
To read other columns written by Angie Willcocks during her six years with Mining Family Matters, please click here. And remember that we offer a free email Q&A service with our psychologists, so just click here to ask a question about relationships, parenting or your career. All advice on Mining Family Matters is for general information only and should never be regarded as a substitute for professional health services or crisis services. To talk with a trained volunteer telephone counsellor at any time of the day or night, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. To contact the info line at beyondblue: national depression initiative, phone 1300 22 4636.