Being alone can be horrible for some. If you’ve just lost someone you love, and the two of you spent a lot of time together, you may feel incredibly lonely. But it’s entirely possible to adjust to being alone.
In this article, we’ll discuss the difference between being alone and being lonely, and how someone who’s lonely can adjust to being alone.
There’s some overlap between these two concepts; someone who just lost their partner is alone, and they’re probably also lonely. However, others love solitude. That doesn’t mean they’re antisocial or they have no friends, or can’t be loved. They just like being alone. These types of people probably enjoy it. They’re just alone, not lonely.
A person can also feel lonely even when they know a lot of people because they don’t have a deep relationship with them. This can leave them with a huge void. Some people who are alone feeling sad and long for company, as I mentioned earlier.
Now that we’ve distinguished between the difference between being alone and being lonely, let’s get into how to enjoy alone time. One note, these tips will only get you started. They probably won’t change your life right away, but they can make the adjustment easier.
Don’t make comparisons.
This can be difficult, but remember the number of friends you have isn’t as important as how strong your relationships are. You don’t know if someone who’s busy and has a lot of friends is truly happy.
Get off Facebook and other social networks for a while.
It’s not a bad thing, but if you feel lonely after looking at social media, quit looking at it for a while. You don’t know if the people posting on social media are truly happy or just trying to project that image. Either way, it doesn’t reflect on you.
Take a break from your phone.
Next time you’re alone, turn off your phone for an hour. Use the time to experience what being alone really feels like. If you have a journal, this might be a good time to write down your feelings about it.
Let your mind go for a bit.
If thinking about doing nothing feels unsettling, give yourself 5 minutes when you don’t read any books, watch television, use the Internet, listen to a podcast, or read a book. Use a timer if needed.
Sit down in a comfortable place. Shut your eyes, turn down the lights, or look outside if you need to. If you don’t like being still, do a repetitious task during this time.
Let your mind go experience where it takes you. If it doesn’t go very far in the beginning, don’t get frustrated. Keep trying this exercise and you’ll start to love the freedom.
Go out with yourself.
This may sound weird, but it can be a great way to learn how to enjoy solitude. If you don’t know what to do, imagine you want to impress a real date. Where would you want to take them? What would you want them to see?
Now go out on the date. It may feel strange in the beginning, but you might see others eating alone or buying one movie ticket.
If you’re on a budget, don’t spend a lot. But remember it costs less to pay for one than two.
If it still sounds daunting, try sitting somewhere for 10 minutes. Look around and enjoy your surroundings. Once that feels comfortable, solo dates will feel less daunting.
Get some exercise
Exercise increases happiness because it releases endorphins. If you’re new to it, start with five minutes. Add more activity each day. As you get more confident, try adding resistance training, aerobics, or sports.
Spend time in nature.
This sounds cliche’, but research shows that 30 minutes or more a week spent in nature can improve symptoms of depression and lower blood pressure. So get out in your backyard, go to the park, or spend time by the water. Absorb the sights and smells of nature and feel the breeze on your face.
Enjoy the perks.
Being alone has a lot of perks. Yes it’s quiet, and you can’t vent to someone after work, but you can also do a lot more things when you’re alone, like:
- Use the whole kitchen to make a meal that will last the rest of the week.
- If you’re trying to rekindle your interest in an old hobby, take up some space to spread out your materials and choose the materials for your next project. If you make all your decisions in one day, leave them out until you’re done. Just make sure you won’t need the space later.
- Dance by yourself. Turn on your radio or stereo, and as long as your neighbors don’t mind, turn up the volume and dance as if there’s no one watching.
Serve others in your community.
There are a lot of ways to help other people. There are both remote opportunities available, as well as opportunities in your community. Either way, volunteering can give you a sense of accomplishment. It can also help you feel connected to others while still enjoying some alone time.
Look for volunteer opportunities near you. Make sure you look for something you’ll enjoy. Make sure the organization’s needs match your skills. If your first choice doesn’t work, look for something else.
Acknowledge things you’re grateful for.
According to research, acknowledging things you’re grateful for can help you feel more happy and hopeful. It’s easy to forget about these things during the day. Think about them for a few minutes. They don’t need to be big; it could be your morning coffee or tea, or the first song you listen to.
Write down, or make a mental list, of these things. The next time you feel sad, take it out and remember all the good things in your life.
Take a break from self-reflection.
It can be good to reflect on yourself but don’t judge yourself too harshly. It makes you feel less self-confident and happy. When the inner critic starts up, listen to the positive voice.
Make and eat a delicious meal.
Even if you don’t have a dinner companion, that doesn’t mean you have to eat a pre-packaged TV dinner. Make yourself a delicious meal.
Do the same things you would do if you were preparing a formal dinner. You owe it to yourself to eat a good meal once in a while.
What skill have you always wanted to try learning, but have been putting off? Don’t worry if you suck at it. Get outside your comfort zone by trying something new and different.
Try improving your home, play an instrument, take an art class, or write short stories. Try it for a while before you give up on it.
If you don’t like it, at least you can try something else.
Go on an outing by yourself.
Find interesting events in your area and schedule them. Thinking about the event is part of the fun. Having something on your calendar can encourage you to follow through.
Visit a bed and breakfast in a nearby town. Go to a festival or farmer’s market. Purchase a concert ticket, or go to the latest art exhibit. Plan for an event you know you’ll like.
How to keep the ball rolling
As you adjust, you can start going deeper.
Change your routine
Even the most perfect routine can become boring. Reflect on your current routine and surroundings. What still works, and what has become boring?
If you don’t know, take a guess. You can move furniture around or add color to a wall. Plant a garden, organize a room, or try a new coffee shop.
Work on how you deal with stress.
Life can be stressful. But there have been times when you dealt with stressful situations successfully. That’s a skill you should keep developing.
Think about how you dealt with a stressful situation in the past, and why it worked. Can you use the same skills to deal with other things going on right now in your life? It’s also a good time to remember you’re more resilient than you think.
Nurture your relationships.
As you get used to solitude, you might find yourself not socializing as much. That’s not bad, but you still need to stay connected to your friends and family.
Visit with family members or friends, or spend time with co-workers after a hard day. Contact someone you haven’t spoken to in a while and talk about something meaningful.
Forgiving others is more important than people realize. Among other things, forgiving others can help you feel less stress, anxiety, and depression.
While you’re at it, don’t forget to forgive yourself too.
Emotional and physical health can affect each other. Taking care of yourself physically is important. It’s also a good way to have a good relationship with yourself.
While you’re alone, make sure you eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep. See your doctor regularly for physicals, and to manage existing health conditions.
Set goals for the future.
What do you want to be doing 5 or 10 years from now? Write down the steps you need to take to accomplish your goals. This can help you make decisions on what you need to do to get there.
Re-do this exercise every year to see if you’re on track, or if you need to change your goals. Making plans for the future can help you feel more optimistic about the present.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Sometimes, all these things aren’t enough to get rid of sadness or loneliness. If you’re having a hard time coping or feeling stressed or anxious, consider consulting a therapist.
It’s entirely possible to be happy alone. Try some of the ideas given here, and in time you may feel more comfortable alone than you do around others. At the very least, you feel more comfortable alone.