We all have moments when we feel lonely.
It doesn’t matter if you are married, married with kids or single. We all have times when we have to deal with loneliness of some description.
Here are my tips for getting through those times.
Understand that being lonely and being alone are not the same thing
This is really important. We need to understand the distinction between being alone and being lonely.
Spending time on your own, does not necessarily mean you are lonely.
Don’t assume for instance that single people are lonely. I’ll use myself as an example here. I’m single (and I spend a lot of time on my own writing and reading) but I am rarely lonely. Don’t get me wrong I do get lonely occasionally but nowhere near as much as people might think. I also travel on my own and don’t get lonely.
As I mentioned in a recent post on taking back your ex, being in a relationship with the wrong person can be one of the loneliest experiences. Marrying the wrong person can be a total disaster. For many years my Mother was the loneliest women I knew and she was married!
You need to understand the difference between the two so that the minute you are on your own you don’t go into a loneliness spiral.
Know your level of alone time
Some people need to be around people more than others. It’s that whole introvert extrovert scenario.
Being an introvert myself, I can go for quite long periods of time by myself without feeling lonely. But even I have my limits. It’s important to know what your ‘limit’ is so that you can make plans to catch up people before you start to feel isolated.
Regardless of whether you are an introvert or extrovert, it’s important to know when you have had too much time on your own. It’s worth mentioning that extroverts need to work out when they need more time alone.
Reach out to your best friend
Feelings of loneliness are usually a trigger that we need to connect with people. They are often a sign that we are feeling isolated.
Often the best way to short-circuit feelings of loneliness is to connect with someone who we already have a strong emotional bond with.
You can’t go past your best friend when you are feeling a bit low. They know your history, personality and character traits and are the quickest way to feel a sense of connection and joy.
Many years ago I had just gotten back from an overseas trip. My long-term relationship and amazing holiday had both ended. I found myself at the World Expo in Brisbane one particular day surrounded by 100,000 people yet I felt incredibly lonely. I used a pay phone (this was long before mobiles) and called my best friend. Thankfully that best friend is still a big part of my life.
Reach out to people
Granted this sounds easy but it’s not when you feel lonely.
Often when we are stuck in a bout of loneliness we resist any thoughts of reaching out to people. We do the complete opposite of what we should be doing and hide in our cave.
Make the effort to reach out to people, I promise it will be worth it.
Don’t take someone being busy personally
Okay so you’re feeling a bit lonely and you reach out to someone to catch up – but they are busy or can’t make time for you just at the moment.
Accept this is part of life.
We love our friends, we love our families but we have to remember they have their own lives as well. Sometimes our friends simply aren’t available and that is okay. Book a catch up in your calendar to see them as soon as you can.
Don’t do the ‘I have no friends’ panic when your friends are busy.
Get off social media and meet people face to face
You would think with all the electronic connectivity we have in our modern world no one would ever be lonely because there are so many ways we can talk to people.
Sometimes I wonder if all of this connectivity has made a feel more alone than ever?
It’s important to get off social media and meet people face to face.
Sometimes what we need is a big old-fashioned hug or to laugh so much we cry, or to look someone in the eye as they are telling us something important.
Get on the phone
If you can’t meet up with someone in person, ring them and speak to them in person.
In person does not mean sending them a text message. I know text messages are brilliant for a whole range of things, but deeply connecting with someone – not so much.
Hearing the sound of someone’s voice can make all the difference. It can immediately put a smile on our face and make us feel connected and loved.
Connect with animals
I have mentioned this several times already on the blog. Pets are wonderful company and great companions.
They give you a sense of unconditional love and responsibility which help fight off feelings of loneliness.
The responsibility aspect of owning a pet makes you put their needs ahead of your own.
Connect with nature
Get out amongst nature. This doesn’t mean you have to go on some big road trip or fly to some exotic location.
It will most likely mean taking a trip to your city park or botanical garden.
Whatever connecting with nature means for you – get outside and feel the sun on your face and the wind in your hair. Lay on a patch of cool lush green grass and breathe deeply. Hell hug a tree if that helps!
Feeling lonely? Then it’s time to get that body moving. It’s time for a walk, jog, run, bike ride, swim or yoga session.
Whatever physical activity you like doing, it’s time to get off the couch and go do it. If you can get someone to go with you fabulous. If not, no problem head out by yourself.
Just get those natural feel good chemicals pumping!
Do activities that you love
I mentioned earlier about friends not always being available. It happens!
Different stages in life can make it harder for people to find time to connect. Young babies, elderly parents that need care, dealing with teenagers, starting a new relationship or our career all may need special attention from time to time.
Sometimes you will want to go to the movies or go out for lunch and people won’t be available.
Here’s an idea – Go by yourself!
Yep I know just reading that will have freaked some people out. Just because your family, friends or partner are not available does not mean that you have to sit around waiting for them to be available!
Get out there and do things you love. It will give you things to talk about when you catch up with the amazing people in your life.
Sometimes we need to realise just how lucky we are.
Helping people less fortunate than ourselves gives us a wake up call. Helping others requires us to make it about them and not all about us.
Get out of your own little world
We all have times where we get caught up in our own little world. Sometimes that world can be very small and limiting.
It might be about a dispute with our neighbour, something going on at work, or a fight we had with our other half.
Whatever it is, it takes over our hearts and mind. It’s all we talk about. We stress about it and we go over the same conversations over and over again in our heads.
This sort of thinking can lead to feelings of loneliness and ultimately depression because our world shrinks around our problems.
When you feel yourself stuck in your own little world, make a conscious effort to do something to snap yourself out of it. Getting out of the house and doing something completely different or unusual is the best place to start.
I know this bit can be hard. Over the years I have been the wallower. Whether it was over breakups with men or simply feeling lonely I wallowed. A lot.
From first hand experience, I can tell you wallowing sucks and it is a total waste of time.
Time you will never get back.
Sitting around thinking ‘poor me’ won’t help. Instead focus on what you need to do to feel better and get out in the world and start doing it.
Don’t be desperate
Let’s face it people can do stupid things when they are lonely.
Bad relationships spring to mind. Awful one night stands are up on the list. Drinking way too much. Ringing any bells? I am not being judgemental here – I have rung a few desperation bells over the years myself.
We all have our demons that surface when we feel lonely.
I can tell you from experience that desperation will only make you feel worse.
Actions that will sooth your lonely soul (like the positive ones on this list) are a much better option.
Understand moments of loneliness will pass
Feelings of loneliness will pass.
I know it might not feel like that when you are stuck in a bout of it, but it will.
Your attitude is a defining factor. Remember you do have control over how you feel.
You have control over picking up the phone and reaching out to someone.
Make peace with being alone
The easiest way to overcome bouts of loneliness is to make peace with being on your own.
Even if you have the busiest social life or are constantly talking on your mobile phone, there will still be times when you will on your own or alone with your thoughts.
If you can enjoy your own company you are less likely to feel lonely and more likely to truly appreciate when you spend time with other people.
Loving and accepting yourself for who you truly are is the key.
How do you cope with the occasional bout of loneliness? What methods do you use to get yourself back on track?
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