I remember the time I first felt lonely.
I had just moved to a foreign country on my own, started a new job and was going through a break up, literally all at once.
I was on an emotional roller coaster, yet there was one HUGE emotion that stood out for me head and shoulders above the rest.
You see at that time I had no friends in the new country.
I had literally just moved, ready to start my new life with my fiancé.
Then it went wrong (a whole other blog post).
Yes, I had the huge support of family and friends back home, but there was only so much help they could offer me from 6,000 miles away. Particularly back when skype was banned and calls back home were expensive.
The fact is, I was lonely and at that time, there was no one to fall back on.
Looking back now, being lonely changed my life for the better.
Being lonely spurred me on to do so many things that ultimately lead me to changing my life (again another blog post).
But at the time, I felt awful.
At the peak of loneliness, I felt absolutely dreadful and there is nothing nice about that, despite where I eventually ended up.
So, I thought I would give you some tips and tricks if you’re feeling lonely to help you. I thought back to my experience and I’ve come up with a list of 11 practical steps you can take now to help alleviate your loneliness.
In no particular order:
- Tell Someone
Tell someone how you’re feeling. You may think it’s obvious to everyone else that you’re lonely, but trust me, it’s probably not. Okay, they may not be able to take the loneliness away, but by being aware of how you’re feeling they may be able to help you in a number of ways you didn’t realise.
If like I did, you dread the weekends, make sure you have made appropriate plans so you have things to do. Take responsibility for yourself. Make dates with friends or make a list of the things you can do on your own to will look forward too.
- Embrace it
Don’t run away from being lonely, turn it to your advantage. Being alone is a good thing. I can’t stress enough, how the initial dread of being on my own, turned into me relishing being on my own and not wanting to be with other people! I became too far the other way, I embraced my loneliness so much, that eventually I loved my own company and being on my own more than anything else.
So, my advice, is to not fight the loneliness, but to embrace it. Use this time as an opportunity to improve yourself. Read self-help books, go on a course, learn a language or learn a skill. Turn what is a negative time into something positive by bettering yourself.
Google volunteers for your area and something will come up.
Be it a local charity shop, pet rescue centre or Silver Line, there are always organisations looking for help. I would particularly focus on charities such as Silver Line because there are loads of elderly pensioners on their own with no glimmer of joy in their future.
If you want a comprehensive list of volunteer ideas click here.
- Coffee Shops
My Life Coach once told me “you’re never alone Gemma. Go and sit in a coffee shop and read a book. Surround yourself with people”. I remember thinking it was a ridiculous suggestion. How would being surrounded by people not talking to me make me feel less lonely? Well it helped. It really did. Every month I would treat myself to a new book and I would take myself off to a coffee shop and indulge in reading and drinking lots of nice coffee.
- TV or Radio
My love of Agatha Christie started when I felt lonely. When I felt lonely, I would pop on a Poirot or Miss Marple dvd and I would feel instantly better. In fact, I positively looked forward to my weekends when I could indulge in back to back Agatha box sets.
Identify the movies or TV programs that give you comfort and make sure you have DVD’s on hand for when you feel lonely.
Or listen to the radio, have it playing in the background so you have a constant company.
A brilliant way to meet new people and keep yourself busy is to throw yourself into a hobby. Think back to when you were a child, what did you enjoy? Also, what you like to research on the internet is a good hobby indicator of a potential hobby. For a list of hobby ideas click here.
Also, research hobby groups in your local area.
Friends In Need is part of Mind and is an on-line support network for people who are suffering from depression. You can find friends local to your area and chat on line and meet up etc. Friends In Need is in association with CCGs and Local Authorities to help build sustainable peer networks and currently operate out of Kensington, Chelsea, Southwark, Croydon, Windsor, Ascot, Maidenhead and West Berkshire.
It’s a genuine (and structured) way to meet new friends.
If Friends In Need isn’t operating in your area, then research other support groups in your area. I’m confident there will be something. If stuck pop down to the wonderful Citizens Advice they are a fountain of all knowledge and will be able to point you in the right direction.
Originally set up to connect people who are new to an area, Rent A Friend is a genuine way to meet new people if you’re struggling to meet friends organically. They say this on their website:
“Rent a Friend to attend a social event, wedding, or party with you. Hire someone to introduce you to new people, or someone to go to a movie or a restaurant with. Hire a Friend to show you around a new town, teach you a new skill/hobby, or just someone for companionship.”
I know some of you will shy away from this, but I think it’s a really good idea! As long as you are vigilant (although I’m sure the site if properly policed) what harm can this do?
If appropriate, buy a dog or cat, they are absolutely wonderful companions. Sometimes better than humans. Obviously, it depends on your working hours and where you live, but if necessary you can employ a dog walker to come in and walk your dog if you work long hours.
Dog walking is also a very good way to meet people.
- Start a Club or Join a Club
Either find a club in your local area that you like the sound of or start your own one if the club you want doesn’t exist. If you want a 1970’s Memorabilia Club and it doesn’t exist in your area then I can guarantee someone else wants one also. Start it!
As I said at the beginning, if you can master the art of being on your own and enjoying it, you become empowered in so many ways. Take me for example, I went from literally hating being on my own to positively loving it.
Being alone allows you to get to know yourself. It allows you to find peace. It allows you to find true contentment. If you can be happy on your own then think how happy you will be in company?
At first loneliness can be horrible, but my advice is don’t automatically run away from it. Explore it. Find yourself.
“What a lovely surprise to finally discover how unlonely being alone can be.” -Ellen Burstyn
I hoped this help you.