What goes through your head when I mention the idea of being alone?
If the thought of this excites you because you never seem to get any time to yourself these days… then unfortunately these words aren’t for you.
Who I’m talking to are those of you out there who are currently feeling lonely, isolated from friends and family, or just spending a lot of time flying solo in this world full of people.
For some – this is pure bliss.
If you’re like me – it’s terrifying.
Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy my own company at times when I feel like it… but after a while I start to crave social interaction, and when this isn’t possible, things can start to fall apart for me.
So venturing into the world of self-employment, working from home coupled with moving country and trying to maintain a long-distance relationship from 2161kms away was probably not the smartest move for me, but it is one I had to make (and one I survived for almost 2 years).
Have you ever realised that even in a city full of millions of people, you can still feel incredibly lonely?
Now I wasn’t even alone all of the time, I had great friends and family nearby, yet I still couldn’t shake the shadow of feeling like I’m missing something. And this feeling could make me go from fine to incredibly sad in a matter of minutes.
“Evidence has been growing that when our need for social relationships is not met, we fall apart mentally and even physically. There are effects on the brain and on the body.
Some effects work subtly, through the exposure of multiple body systems to excess amounts of stress hormones. Yet the effects are distinct enough to be measured over time, so that unmet social needs take a serious toll on health, eroding our arteries, creating high blood pressure, and even undermining learning and memory.” https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200307/the-dangers-loneliness
So the reason I’m sharing this with you is that obviously there are many others in the world going through similar experiences, and I’d like to help in some small way but sharing what I’ve learnt.
And that is… you should never underestimate the dangers of loneliness.
Here are some ways I dealt with it:
1. Tell someone.
At first it can feel a bit silly to admit you’re lonely, but do it anyway. Often you’ll find that people had no idea (no one’s a mind reader) but once they know, they’re usually willing to help. And sometimes they’ll try to offer you solutions like ‘join a group’ or ‘make some friends’, and although these are great ideas and I do highly recommend them – for me I had to dig a little deeper.
2. Write down your thoughts.
Writing is incredibly therapeutic and something that has helped me immensely over the years, especially when I’ve been living in my head for too long. If you can’t or don’t want to verbalise anything yet, at least write down how you’re feeling so that it doesn’t just exist in your mind. Most of the time I find once I have written my thoughts down, they don’t seem to hold as much power over me.
3. Do something about it.
Broad statement right? I know, it’s not rocket science, but sometimes we forget that we have the ability to change our situation at any point in time. It wasn’t easy but eventually I had to get over myself, get out of my cave and start changing things. I started making decisions that would shape my environment to one that was more enjoyable.
4. Get comfortable with strangers.
Now I’m not saying forget all about ‘stranger danger’ and become best friends with people you’ve never met… no, what I’m saying here is its ok to strike up a conversation with people around you in the right environment. I used to always wear headphones everywhere I went and we all know these are the silent “please don’t talk to me” signal – so I took them off. I smiled at people in the street, I said hello to others on the bus, and you won’t believe how many people out there are craving company just as much as you! The power of communication is often extremely undervalued but incredibly significant.
5. Hug people more.
Again I feel like this could be taken the wrong way but seriously – hugs are important! When you spend a lot of time on your own, physical touch is rare and it’s amazing how much you don’t realise how much you need it – until you do. Hugs have an incredible ability to improve your mood so don’t be afraid to ask friends or family members for a hug if you need it.
I know these are just small steps, but I hope they have helped you in some way.
Please don’t ever be afraid to admit you’re feeling lonely, you’ll be amazed at how many people are in the same boat.
And if you ever find yourself needing someone to talk to, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me here.