Escaping the mentally and emotionally draining trap.
Loneliness is a deeply personal, internal experience. This is why you can be in a room full of people or lying right next to someone and still feel lonely. It is an emptiness, a feeling of disconnect between you and well, everyone. It can engulf us, make us feel uncared for and misunderstood. This can lead to depression and disillusion, if we let it.
Though being alone is not synonymous with loneliness, it is much easier for some than others. That feeling of being lonely most often comes in solitude. Sometimes it’s because we are single, missing romantic intimacy and just having a partner on our life’s journey. Other times it’s because we may not have many friends to hang out or converse with, and we get tired of doing things by ourselves or not at all.
It’s natural to crave human interaction. However, if we cannot ever be comfortable in our aloneness or enjoy our own company, that is an indisputable area in need of addressing. A great book titled Love, Freedom, Aloneness by Osho does just that. You have to be content with yourself or no amount of attention or number of relationships will ever be enough. So, that’s the first step. Learn to relish your me time, have fun by yourself and not view the circumstance as one that is “less than” being accompanied.
Love, Freedom, Aloneness acknowledges the different phases in our lives and gives reasons why each is important. Honor the space that you are in. We tend to compare ourselves against not just others, but earlier versions of ourselves, previous times in our lives and moments that have long since passed. This book is self-proclaimed, “The Koan of Relationships.” It discusses the importance of balancing our need for freedom with our desire for intimacy and connection. It’s thoughtful, insightful, and will lead you on a journey toward being comfortable with just you.
Once that’s taken care of….
Keep yourself occupied. Enroll in classes, pick up or practice a hobby, exercise, redecorate your home, just find productive activities in which you can engage consistently. Take advantage of the time that you have to yourself while you can. Achieve something. Kind of hard to feel lonely when you’re busy doing stuff, growing and learning. It’s idle time that is the killer.
Get out in the world. Go sit at a public place like a coffee shop or a busy park. Check out a movie at the theatre. Sometimes just people watching and feeling the energy of others, even if we don’t interact with them, can make us feel not so alone in the universe. This is even better if done during the day because you get some sunshine, which also helps as it causes our bodies to produce Vitamin D and elevates serotonin levels, improving our mood. Energy levels will also increase. So, if you’re feeling lethargic and wanting to just wallow in your loneliness, force yourself to get up and get out into the sun.
Learn to meditate. Personally, I practice Transcendental Meditation and love it. It’s simple and based on science. But find a practice that works for you. Meditation helps you focus, relax and remain present. It keeps you in this moment instead of anxious about the next or reminiscent about the past, which often accompanies feelings of loneliness — The wondering if we’ll find someone or wishing we still had someone. Sometimes we just need to be still, quiet the noise in our heads and simply breathe. The future is going to be what it’s going to be, what’s done is done and no amount of worry or stress will change that. Meditation is one of the most positive and effective things that you can do to relieve anguish.
Tell your friends and family how you’ve been feeling. One of the worst things that we can do is keep loneliness, or any draining emotions to ourselves. Don’t withdraw. Despite what you may think, there is someone out there who cares about you. Tell them that you could really use their company. Tell them that you could use some extra attention and affection right now. Give them the opportunity to help and offer of themselves when you need them most. They’ll be happy that you did.
If you’re new to an area or live far away from family and friends, ask co-workers to hang out. Try apps like Meetup that connect you to local events where you can interact with people who have similar interests, or Bumble, which now has “friends” and “networking” modes that allow you to platonically match with others in your area.
It’s normal to feel lonely on occasion. Don’t allow the aforementioned suggestions to serve as Band-Aids covering a more deeply-seeded issue, but they will definitely help you get through those scattered moments of saddening isolation.