“The time you feel lonely is the time you most need to be by yourself. Life’s cruelest irony.” — Douglas Coupland, Author
I am betting that most if not all of who read this article have been lonely at least once and probably more times than that in your lives. No matter how many people we know and how well situated we are, there are times where we are or feel all alone.
I went through this when I started a new college. I had a serious girlfriend who became my wife. She went to my old college and I only saw her on weekends. Driving home on Sunday nights was not a great experience and I couldn’t wait for Friday to come to be with her again.
During my working days, I traveled a decent amount. When I was with others it wasn’t too bad, but being by myself, it was lonely. The days working were fine, but after hours I was usually by myself. It was lonely and I couldn’t wait to get back home to my family.
I am sure you have had or are having similar experiences to these. Some of you deal with it and move on. Others dwell on it and it bothers you to no end, so much that It Keeps You Awake at Night.
“For fear you will be alone, you do so many things that aren’t you at all.” —Richard Brautigan, Poet
I am not sure what is worse. Being all alone by yourself, or being in a room full of people and feeling alone or isolated. Each may have different reasons involved for feeling as such, but in the end the result is the same; loneliness.
There are times we want to be alone. Introverts are like that. They recharge their batteries by having solitude and quiet, away from the maddening crowd. But even they do not want to be alone for long periods of time or depression may set in. We are after all a social society and want to be with others even if it is just to know someone is there with us.
There are ways to deal with loneliness. Cigna suggests the following five ways to do so:
1. Acknowledge Your Feelings of Loneliness
Realize how you feel and the impact it’s having on your life. Talk to friends and family and see what help they might offer. If that doesn’t work, you may need to seek professional help through a therapist or counselor. They can assist you in working out your feelings and devising a strategy to not be or feel lonely.
2. Know When to Engage or Disengage From the Online World
We have become too dependent upon online contacts. While it is nice to connect with a variety of folks both near and far, there is nothing like face to face contact with people. So, shut off your devices and computer and get out in the world. Meet new people and make new friends. The more you do, the less lonely you will feel.
3. Find a Volunteer Opportunity as a Way to Feel Less Lonely
Volunteer opportunities are plentiful. Getting involved not only keeps you busy, but allows you to meet lots of new people and have a feeling of accomplishment in helping others. A sense of happiness, fulfillment, and connection to others is yet another way to stop feeling lonely.
Look to your local neighborhood or community for volunteer activities. This way you can make friends and forge social ties with others in close proximity to you. Chances are good that you’ll run into them in the grocery store, at your church or synagogue, or at the coffee shop or local restaurant, This will provide additional opportunities for social interaction and help you to feel less lonely.
4. Join a Group or Club to Overcome Loneliness With In-Person Connections
Depending on where you live, you may have access to various types of groups and club activities. You can find many of these types of groups online or through your community resources.
There are Meetup groups for all types of interests, including food, travel, lifestyle, entertainment, sports, recreation, culture, and much more. It’s a great way to make friends and get together with likeminded people on a regular basis.
5. Practice Self-Care
Don’t overlook the potential power of exercise, healthy food, proper sleep, sunshine, and even meditation for fighting loneliness. This should include getting:
- A healthy diet
- Quality sleep
“If you meet a loner, no matter what they tell you, it’s not because they enjoy solitude. It’s because they have tried to blend into the world before, and people continue to disappoint them.” — Jodi Picoult, Author
We all experience loneliness at some point in our lives. The key is to get past it and to move on. If we do not, it could lead to a real problem for us and possibly for those closest to us.
Loneliness is a real thing. I know having experienced it multiple times in my own life. I did not allow it to overcome me and worked to make sure I had the right balance of time with others and my alone time (I am introverted by nature).
Each of us should try our best to do the same. It is doable and when we do it, it will be one less thing That Keeps Us Awake at Night.