Loneliness at the Holidays
The holidays will soon be here and many people are getting ready for the festivities by shopping and enjoying family & holiday parties. This is the best time of year for many but can also be the absolute worst time of year for those that are feeling lonely especially when missing a loved one.
When you are lonely there is a feeling of being” separate” or “unseen” even when surrounded by family and friends. It is natural to retract and create your own cocoon to protect your vulnerability. As a result, this can lead to avoiding friends or holiday celebrations which just ends up feeding this feeling.
As uncomfortable as this may be initially, action is the answer..period. There is no secret or a magic pill. Small actionable steps are the best way to handle loneliness.
Why not post on Facebook an invitation to a happy hour, holiday tour or game nite. Include family and friends and make an effort to have fun so that you will have a better time. They will remember the fun which will lead to more social invitations and closer relationships over time. If you are connecting with old friends or family find some photos that are reminders of times that you had together to help reconnect with happy memories.
Look for volunteer and group activities, there are many needs at this time of the year. Volunteering is the easiest and best way to focus your attention on helping others and not on yourself. Churches and synagogues offer many opportunities for meeting new people during their holiday programs and volunteer efforts. Why not give small gifts to those around you (Pinterest has millions of DIY ideas) or bake some cookies and take to nursing homes in your local area.
No one has a picture-perfect holiday season, no matter what the movies show. We all know that on social media people post only the good stuff, we do not see any of the problems that so many are facing during the holidays. So we have to do our best to create our own memorable holiday season whether we are surrounded by friends and loved ones or not.
P.S. Research suggests that taking a warm bath, watching “feel good movies” and having a hot beverage may help to drive away feelings of loneliness also.
Sounds good to us…:)
How to overcome loneliness & depression
We have to start with the fact that we ALL at one time or another have felt lonely, being alone can be very beneficial. Many enjoy solitude in their lives which can be a good way to reconnect with themselves. But lonely is very different from the solitude that we desire.
Loneliness is a negative feeling and a disconnect between what we want our relationships to be and what they actually are. The root being a lack of a social network and the ways that we react to this situation.
Studies show that strong relationships are key — perhaps the key — to a happy life.
Some people may experience loneliness as a result of living alone. Maybe family or friends are not close or you may not have a close connection with them. It is never too late to make new friends and develop new interests. How well you make new friendships really depends upon how open you are to new people and experiences.
Do something… anything. The secret is to just take small steps, start a casual conversation with a bartender or barista.
Keep it light, just get used to smiling and giving honest compliments to people. Starting is the hard part and when you get past that, well it builds upon itself and becomes much easier.
Be honest with yourself, look to see if you have unrealistic expectations of others. Do you expect too much too soon from a friendship or are you too needy with people? These are poor ways to connect and may be preventing you from making new friends.
Try becoming involved with an organization that fits your personality and that you think that you will enjoy such as a church or charity. Getting a pet or volunteering at a shelter are proven ways to help with loneliness. Reach out to someone that is lonely, since we know that we tend to isolate ourselves when lonely. You may be the best person to empathize with someone and truly help them feel better.
Meditation and mindfulness are very valuable for health and perspective. Therapy may be necessary if you cannot shake deep feelings of despair, depression or loneliness. Look for professionals that specialize in depression and loneliness. We may need help to be able to move forward and be able to have a happy and fulfilling life.
Everyone is busy, but you should take time for relationships. Life will always get in the way, kids, work, school etc. There will never be a convenient time to slow down and THEN have time for relationships. Don’t make the mistake of making relationships unimportant because they may not be there when you need them.
How to overcome loneliness of being single & living alone
We all NEED meaningful human connections to be happy, but it doesn’t need to be a boyfriend/girlfriend or a spouse. It can come from family and friends. Many studies show that being in a bad relationship is much worse than being single.
Being single grants you the time and freedom to do whatever you want on your own schedule. Being single gives you a wonderful opportunity to figure out what truly makes you happy and gives you the perfect chance to get to know yourself better. You have the freedom to put your needs and desires above anyone else’s. You can be as ambitious as you wish without anyone interfering in any way. Knowing what makes us happy or feeds our soul is necessary so that you can be your best selves with someone else. You need to know how to be happy with yourself before you can love anyone else in a healthy way.
Now may be the best time to find out if your life is going in the right direction. Are you stimulated? Do you feel that you are doing things that are meaningful? What would you like to have more in your life? What would you like less of? Write things down, make a list or start a journal to clarify your thoughts. Make a list of new places you would like to visit, things you would like to learn, goals you would like to reach. You will start to look forward to trying these new things and you will start to get excited about the possibilities available to you.
Happiness is anticipation!
Try looking at your surroundings in a new way. Maybe spruce up the house by buying some “cozy feel good“ candles or moving the furniture around. Look for some inspiration on Houzz or Pinterest to switch things up and give your space a new vibe. Change your daily routine, find a new coffee shop or a lunch place that looks interesting.
Sometimes we barely can get off the couch, it hurts to even move. You will not feel better by magic, you need to force yourself to get up. Then force yourself to get ready and be with someone who cares about you. If you don’t want to talk right away, give yourself permission not to until you are ready. But you will feel better the sooner you talk and share your feelings. If you tend to avoid people when you are feeling down, try to make plans for a future time and then STICK to it, no matter how you feel!
Sign up at your local college for a workshop or join a Meetup for hiking & enjoy the outdoors. Improve a skill that you already have or take a cooking, photography or dance class. Check out Airbnb experiences. Get online and commit to something new. Find your passion or just have fun and make new friends. Challenge yourself!
Charities and animal shelters always need a helping hand. Help someone else, give others a smile. If you show someone you care, you will absolutely feel better about your life.
“Action will change your perspective”
Sometimes it takes many different experiences to find things that we end up loving. So take a chance, get out of your comfort zone, have fun and learn about yourself! One way to get out of your comfort zone would be to do something new every week. Just one thing, start there. The great thing is that there is no one to tell you not to do something. This may seem uncomfortable at first but you will probably meet others trying to meet new people too so you both may be in the same boat.
All of these things should be done without any romantic expectations, just to have fun, no pressure. Remember to do things that benefit you and not for the purpose of finding “someone.”
It all starts with a smile and saying hello to someone new.
How to overcome loneliness after a breakup
We have all been through it in some way, the feeling of crippling uncertainty after a breakup or divorce. Every daily action will be different and we are not certain if that will feel good or bad, but the unknown is very scary. This may also affect your other family relationships, bringing a whole new level of uncertainty. All the questions that we ask about the future and happiness weigh on our minds, usually running as a sort of incessant loop. The facts are that we will feel scared and lonely wondering if we are making the right decisions. Because let’s face it, it’s easier to live with the ”known,” no matter how unhappy that may be.
Before you can heal, you will have to “feel” the emotions, whatever they are, and accept they exist. Write them down and talk with trusted friends or family. They may surprise you with insights from their own experiences. The sting does hurt and you need to figure out what advice works for you and let go of anything that doesn’t resonate. You cannot flip a switch and the emotions will be gone, it just takes time. Hopefully, you will begin to feel a little lighter as you go through the process every day.
Only after that acceptance can you start to let them go…like a balloon you set free.
When you think about the relationship, assess what choices you have made or habits that you could change about yourself. Relationships are a complex dynamic and there are always things that we can learn about ourselves to grow so that the same mistakes are not repeated.
What could I have done differently that would have helped the relationship?
Do I choose people that have a common trait that is unhealthy?
What personality traits do I have that could be worked on so that I bring my best self to a relationship?
Do I like them for their ”potential” and not who they are at the moment? (You must choose them for who they are “now,” this is who they are, period.
Do I have negative preconceptions about relationships that do not reflect reality?
What did I do that was right, that helped the relationship?
You are not alone, there are many people that are single and enjoying this phase of life so let’s talk about the positives.
Freedom, If you want to go skydiving or work out at a strange time or spend time taking photos early in the morning you do it. There are no negotiations. It is nice to make a decision and just do it, no input from someone else. That also means no arguments over anything you would like to do at any time. What are the things that you always put off because of one reason or another? Do it now. Take care of yourself, really, you deserve it!
Figure out what you love to do, and do it more often. Favorite movies, favorite places to visit. Eat your favorite foods. Indulge in what you like best.
Give of yourself. Help others in need which will help you put your life in perspective.
Be grateful for what you have and who is in your life. It is so easy to focus on loss, but we all have things to be grateful for, journaling is a great way to remember that!
Remind yourself that you are creating a new future and soon you will be making plans that will give you renewed energy to fuel your goals.
You may have those moments when you are alone, celebrating a holiday or isolating yourself that feelings may rush back to you, its normal and ok. Try to be easy on yourself! If you feel that you are not making any progress, you may need to talk to a therapist. They can help you see if you are suffering from depression.
Sometimes we grieve what we “hoped” or expected the relationship to be, the reality is that it did not live up to those expectations. We have to remember that the next relationship just may live up to those expectations, so give others a chance to be the relationship that you deserve.
How to Deal with Loneliness at Night
Being alone doesn’t necessarily mean you’re lonely of course, but it’s important to recognize if you have feelings of loneliness or sadness.
Sometimes new situations make sleeping at night more difficult. Whatever the reason that you find yourself lonely at night, recognizing and understanding these feelings are important. This is the first step to finding the best way for you to feel more comfortable when you are at home by yourself.
When you do not have the distraction of someone else in the house, it is funny how all of a sudden you notice noises that you may not have noticed before. This is usually the time that your imagination goes crazy and thinks about everything or every problem that can make sleeping a real challenge.
A nightly routine will help you get ready for bed that is totally unique and right for you.
Schedule time to work out and socialize weekly. Plan your meals for the week with any classes or interests. By planning out each week (even if loosely) it helps greatly to keep you motivated, and you will likely be tired at the end of the day helping you sleep. A perk, of course, is that you will feel better about yourself and will inevitably meet new people which will add to your social life.
Some other tips to make sleeping itself easier….
- As part of your nightly routine, take a hot bath or shower with some added aromatherapy such as lavender with an herbal tea, sleepy time or chamomile are good choices.
- Meditation is an amazing habit to cultivate, it helps in many ways not only for sleeping but for overall wellness.
- Candles, music and soft pillows and throws, help to just create a space that you can sink into and relax.
- Journaling about the positive aspects of your day or talking to a close friend is a great way to help you get into a good mindset. Talking and writing things down, allows your brain to let go of some things you are thinking or dwelling upon.
- Add a pet to the family. Pets can be great companions and lots of fun. They become such a big part of our lives. If you cannot have a dog or a cat…fish can also be very relaxing. Watching and feeding the birds is more fun that you may think! They have different personalities also.
- Get to know your neighbors by striking up conversations or taking cookies to say “hi.” This way you can all look out for each other and knowing this will allow you to feel more connected to your local community.
- Be aware if you may need to seek counseling for loneliness or sadness if you feel you are not getting making progress. Following these tips may take some effort but are so worth it when you start to see the results.
How to Overcome Loneliness in a Relationship
When we think of being lonely, we don’t usually think of people that are in relationships. Being married or in a relationship does not spare anyone from feeling lonely. Studies show that 29% of married people reported being lonely. When we get into a committed relationship other relationships may suffer, such as spending time with friends or being involved with other social engagements outside of the relationship.
Once together in a relationship, it is often easy to settle into letting the relationship just be and going about life somewhat separately. Time and change affect our relationship and we need to be aware when this happens so that you do not become upset and feel unloved. There will always be the need to try to please the other and to do the daily small things that grow a bond between them.
Loneliness is determined by how the relationship actually is vs how we need it to be and not just by whether we happen to be living with a partner. Daily life can become routine and slowly talk about common interests, goals, and dreams may be left by the wayside. It is a mistake to think that we can leave our relationship on cruise control while we go about the daily chores of life.
Bridge the Disconnect within a Relationship
We may think that we know what our partners are thinking or feeling, but studies show that this is NOT the case. We have to be careful with our thoughts and assumptions. Ask questions about their thoughts, initiate conversations and then “listen.”
Try to figure out the main cause of the loneliness. What are your “pain points?” When do you feel it the most? When do you feel the most disconnected? Once you become clear on specifically when and why you will have better conversations with your partner. Ignoring and hoping things will change may just become a cycle that will definitely make the situation worse. Many feel lonely in a relationship, so never feel that you are alone. You may want to talk to a trusted friend if you are having trouble getting clarity.
Resist isolating yourself, this becomes such an easy thing to do hibernating will make you feel worse. Be around people, force yourself to get out. Sign up for a class, join a meetup or a gym anything that you will enjoy to get your butt up and out! The busier you are, the less you will focus on any negative feelings. New friends and relationships help to rejuvenate ourselves and change our perspective.
Be easy on yourself, we all go through hard patches. Sometimes it takes more effort than others but it will change. Sharing your feelings and emotions helps most people feel better about their situation. If you feel that you need more help, please contact a professional to talk and assess if more options are needed.
Taking some concrete steps that we talk about below will create closer bonds that help to eliminate loneliness. One such step is to share more experiences together
Take a hike together, cook a favorite meal or a movie where you both can reminisce. Look at old pictures, remembering that bond can bring up those feelings.
Commit to daily time to talk, whether you take a walk or having some coffee together or taking time before bed to talk. Try to limit your talk about the daily chores and issues at this time and focus on being more personal.
Make an effort to show more intimacy such as smiling, touching, hugging with your time together.
Show your partner gratitude for the small things that they do that may not normally be noticed or acknowledged.
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