Feeling lonely? Consider surrounding yourself with the natural world

Richard Chen/Staff

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I don’t know about the rest of you, but over the course of my time at UC Berkeley, I have had a number of conversations with people who have expressed feelings of loneliness. Loneliness connotes an essence of sadness or depression, which are often other feelings associated with loneliness. And with loneliness may come the desire to have fulfilling company or real companionship in one’s surroundings. The feeling of loneliness may seem counterintuitive at a place such as UC Berkeley, considering that there are so many people on this campus. Some people I have spoken with, however, in many cases do not feel connected with one another and the space they are occupying, which can lead to feelings of loneliness. One thing is for sure —these people are not alone in feeling lonely. 

There are many ways and resources to combat the feeling of loneliness. If you are struggling with loneliness, consider reaching out to the Tang Center for therapy, visiting the Berkeley Mental Health Clinic, seeking advice from professors in the psychology department on campus, looking for DeCals that discuss healthy habits or researching ways to combat feelings of loneliness. Loneliness is a feeling that can be addressed and relieved with the right actions.

A really simple and easy resource that people may tend to overlook when countering feelings of loneliness, however, is the natural, physical world around us. Mhm, I am talking about the trees and plants that surround us on campus and the beautiful world that lies just behind us in the hills of Berkeley. If you are feeling lonely, go spend some time with the natural entities that have always been and, hopefully, will always be here with us. Surrounding yourself with nature can be known to do wonders for feelings of loneliness and mental health issues. Being intentional in the time one spends with nature is a mindful and sobering practice; it can help put one’s feelings or emotions into perspective if you allow it to.

The natural world is here to be with you and here to support you. The trees are grounded and ready to hear you out. The fields of grass are ready to catch you and your body after a long day. The sun wants to warm you. The breeze of the wind wants to give you sweet whispers to remind you that you are a part of something big and beautiful. The natural world does everything to let you know that you are not alone. We just have to remember that we are connected to this land and to each other at all times. We may want to consider it our responsibility to remember this and to hold on to it in the times that some of us are feeling lonely. 

So, next time some of you are caught in a bout of loneliness, go to a tree that you notice and give it a fat hug. Tell it about your day and move on. That tree is there for you as long as it lives. That tree is ready to listen and can probably hold on to a lot more than us humans. If you feel lonely, try connecting with your natural and physical surroundings!

Contact Gina Wright [email protected].