Loneliness affects everyone whether it is a loss of a relationship, a partner who is away from home due to work or other commitments or the desire for a relationship that you have not experienced yet.
We experience loneliness because we are social beings who are biologically programmed to be in a relationship. When the relationship aspect is missing, we feel lonely. Loneliness can be debilitating and can lead to depression. We need to be able to manage those times when we feel lonely. The first and most important strategy is to have a plan and to identify the thoughts that are pulling us down.
Have a plan
Identify the times that you are most likely to feel lonely. At these times make plans with friends or family or plan to watch some movies or TV series. Consider joining a class that interests you, reading a book or learn new things.
Identify the thoughts that you have when you are lonely
Write down the thoughts that you have when you are lonely. These thoughts might include
I will always be alone
I must be a loser because I am alone
I can’t stand feeling lonely
These are fairly normal thoughts for people who feel lonely. It is important that you question the validity of these thoughts that pop into your head instead of just accepting them.
For instance, to say that you are always alone is saying that you are never with anyone. That simply is not true. It is probably true to say that you are often lonely.
To believe that you are a loser because you are alone is also questionable because everyone is alone at some point so is everyone a loser? Loneliness is a situation and not a reflection of you.
Not being able to stand to be alone is a strong statement. You may not like to be alone, but you can control the way that you relate to it. You try to repel it by being angry, resentful and depressed or you can realise that you can take action to deal with your feelings and accept that loneliness is a part of life and it comes and goes.
With a plan in place and our thoughts identified it is time to consider some useful strategies.
Coping with loneliness
Laughing has been scientifically proven to benefit your health. When you’re lonely laughter is the farthest thing from your mind. Learning to laugh by yourself is empowering. You do not need to rely on others to make you happy.
Watch a funny film or funny clips on Youtube, read a joke book or look at funny pictures. Laughter is great for the release of feel-good endorphins in your brain again.
Take care of yourself, physically and mentally
It is easy to neglect yourself when you are feeling low. Taking care of your body is the beginning of feeling better. Try a nice bath, a massage, listen to uplifting music, watch a good movie or TV series.
Pets are important
If you have a pet, then you don’t live alone. Pets are great companions, and you can talk to them. Even if a cat or dog is out of the question, there other pets like fish. Interaction with a living thing other than yourself will help hold off loneliness.
Try new things
Occupy yourself with things that feel creative and exciting. Master a new skill, take on a new hobby or find other ways to express yourself.
Don’t physically shut off from the world – fight the urge to isolate yourself
Open the house up every day. Create an outdoor space where you can interact with nature. Looking outside or being outside reminds you that you are not alone.
Have people over
Invite people you know over for food and drink or watching a movie.
Be around people
We are social beings who crave the physical, emotional and psychological company of fellow human beings. So if you are feeling lonely, you need to go out and be near people. You can go and sit in a public space and by watching other people as they pass by you can be near them. While this will not fully meet your needs, it will help.
Volunteer and work with others
Get out of your comfort zone and get involved in a common goal with other people. Volunteering is a way to meet new people.
Recognise that being alone can be beneficial
Being alone can be peaceful, quiet, and give you space and the opportunity to connect with your deeper self.
Relate loneliness to your values of connection
Loneliness reminds us of the value of connection, intimacy, and sharing experiences with others.
Counselling is a proactive way to learn to overcome the self-defeating behaviours that heighten your feeling of loneliness. With the support of a counsellor, you can learn to change your thinking and relationship patterns and improve the way that you view life.
(c) Tracey Janke – StartPoint Counselling 2017
07 3458 1725 / 0409 272 115