So, civilization is in shambles, anarchy is the order of the day, you’re fleeing whatever catastrophe zone you were in when disaster struck. You’ve survived off the land and have been making steady progress toward a safe place to survive. You haven’t seen a soul for weeks and the loneliness is starting to weigh down on you like a slab of marble on your chest. How do you cope with being alone for an indefinite period of time?
The reaction to loneliness is called a “coping strategy” and fits into one of four categories: active solitude, spending money, social contact, and sad passivity. Active solitude is where you stay active, perform tasks to keep yourself mentally and physically active. Spending money is more about getting out of your normal environment and acquiring new things and less about the actual act of spending money. Social contact is striving to talk to people and have social interactions with others. Sad passivity is when you sit around feeling sorry for yourself, partaking in activities that exacerbate the empty feeling of loneliness you have.
Most experts agree that keeping yourself mentally and physically fit is the best way to cope with loneliness. In a survival situation it’s important to conserve energy, but if food and water are plentiful it can’t hurt to do a few calisthenics first thing in the morning. If you are in a stable situation, you can go for a jog or a walk.
Mental activity is just as important as physical activity. Putting your thoughts to paper is probably the best thing you can do. It allows you to reflect on your day, what happened, what you were thinking, thoughts, hopes, fears, etc. It allows you to process any difficult things from the day. The problem is that you need paper to write on and a pen to write with. Even if you have these things, how long will they last? By no means am I saying you shouldn’t keep a journal, you just need to be aware of your supplies. Whether you brought one with you or you find it in an abandoned gas station on your way, reading a book can keep your mind active. Teach yourself a skill, or practice one you already know. Not only will this keep your mind active, but this skill may come in handy later on when re-establishing society.
You can befriend an animal, a domestic cat or dog is best, if you need that social contact. Wild animals can be dangerous to try this with, where domestic animals were born and raised around humans in a civilized environment. It may sound crazy, but if worse comes to worst, start talking to yourself. Its not a very good strategy, but tricking yourself into thinking you are interacting with others is better than nothing.
Prolonged periods of isolation can be incredibly dangerous. In prisons, it has been proven that solitary confinement has lead to suicide, depression, chronophobia and Ganser syndrome. If you want to survive Armageddon, you have to learn to cope with isolation.