8 Ways to Combat Loneliness
So many of us feel lonely from time to time, even if there are people around us. Studies show that more that 60% of married people feel lonely. Couples can become disconnected and distorted views can start to take shape which perpetuates the loneliness situation. Then there are those that feel that loneliness has taken ahold of their entire life. It is important to distinguish if your loneliness is a chronic problem or a temporary situation. How does one go about doing this?
In everyone’s life there are periods of loneliness. Because loneliness is when you’re unhappy to be alone, some people end up in a downward spiral when their strong feelings of loneliness won’t subside. Sometimes our own thoughts make us feel even lonelier. We may feel like others don’t like us or want to be around us, when that’s not the case. This can lead to Chronic Loneliness, anxiety and even depression. Studies show that chronic loneliness creates more stress, increases blood pressure and cholesterol and increases our risk of an early death by 14%.
Being alone is not the same as being lonely. A lot of people choose to be alone, but are not always lonely. They enjoy their lives, but even they can have some bouts with loneliness from time to time.
Loneliness is a feeling. If you don’t like the feeling, you must take action to change the situation that’s perpetuating the feeling. The following are some tips to encourage you to take action.
- Realize you’re not alone.
In two recent surveys, 40% of adults said they were lonely which is up from 20% in the 1980’s. There is an alarming amount of people all over the world who are lonely. You are not alone.
- Experiment with things or groups.
Some of us don’t like to exercise, but those that keep a schedule to do it and dedicate themselves, find that after they do, they feel better and healthier. This brings me to the next suggestion. Go find places to socially connect which you would find enjoyable. Maybe you could join a gym, a meditation class, a sports group, a religious organization, or a pottery class. Think about your interests and make a commitment to yourself to show up and participate. You may have to try different groups before one feels right for you, but when you get to it, you’ll feel better and less lonely.
- Get involved in volunteer opportunities.
When people are thinking of others and doing something good for someone else, they feel a sense peace. Volunteering is a great way to step out of your feelings of loneliness because you can refocus your energy on others that truly need your help. And who knows, you may just make some great, lasting relationships!
- Get in tuned with yourself.
If you enjoy being around yourself, you’ll have a greater sense of self and be happier. You’ll be able to recognize feelings of loneliness much quicker, before it has time to sabotage your day. You could write in a gratitude journal, go out to eat, see a movie or even go for a run. If you don’t know who you are, find ways to connect with yourself. Once you connect to you, making connections with others is much easier.
- Put down the devices!
For some, this is the only way they are willing to communicate with others. If you took time to put down all the devices, you’d be more likely to make in-person, human connections. I’m not saying throw everything out. I’m saying, there is a time and place for all things. If you are longing for in person, human connections you may want to put down your cell phone and other devices. Back in the sixties, families and friends used to spend time at picnics, parks and throwing ball in the backyard. “Families have 60 percent fewer family picnics and 40 percent fewer family dinners since the 1960’s” according to spectator.org. It’s okay to put down all the electronic devices on occasion in order to spend time and create relationships with those around you.
- Identify the triggers that make you lonely and have a plan.
Sentimental items, pictures, songs and other items can play a huge part in our feelings of loneliness. It is okay to put things away temporarily, so you’re able to function better day to day. Some items you store away, may bring you feelings of guilt, but remember it’s not forever. It’s only so you are able to collect and deal with your thoughts and feelings and at some point you can take the items out again.
You also need a plan. If you’re aware that the lonely bug bites you now and then, have a plan! Maybe you could call a special person in your life, have a hobby, or maybe you could knit. Whatever it is you choose, keep the thought handy so if you need it, you can use it when the lonely feelings creep up on you.
- Use your time.
So many people wish they had some solitude. Solitude is when you’re happy to be alone. Use your time to do something you’ve always wanted to do. Maybe you’ve wanted to write a children’s book, learn how to work on cars or maybe you’ve always wanted to finish college. Use your time to do something that you’ve always wanted to do or that would benefit you and your life.
- Let go of the toxic people in your life.
There is only one you! Make sure you take care of yourself. No one else is responsible for taking care of you. There are those out there that may bring poison to your life. You’ll have to recognize who those people are for you and let them go. Of course, this is easier said than done in most cases. This requires real soul searching about what you want and need to be emotionally healthy.
Loneliness can be emotionally paralyzing in many cases. If you feel you can’t get a handle on it, please see a professional for further evaluation.
I hope this article has been helpful. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at www.samanthabonnell.com. I’d be happy to speak with you.
“Something’s Just Not Right.”
The Story of My Autistic Son
I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby boy back in 1994. He smiled, crawled and progressed like most children do. So when he turned three years old, it was time for him to go to pre-school. I was surprised when the teacher came up to me and said, “There’s something not quite right with Jacob. I can’t put my finger on it.” What in the world was she talking about? He was healthy, learning some new words, and played nicely with others. He was a calm child and never showed aggression. I thought because the teacher was so young, maybe she was just inexperienced. So time went on for a little while. I took him to his doctor time and time again and was always told and he was fine and healthy.
The next year he was with the same pre-school teacher and again, she told me she thought Jacob needed tested. Okay, let’s put this to rest and test him, I thought. Again, there were some things we needed to help him with, but he’s only four years old! So this is how our life went for some time. Some “experts” said he was fine, some said there is something but didn’t feel comfortable making a diagnosis until he was older.
We pressed forward. Each year a new teacher would comment, each year we would evaluate him. When he turned seven, the professionals were finally ready to start taking a more serious approach. Even then, he was diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome, Attention Deficit Disorder and even food allergies. We were trying everything to figure out what was going on. It was frustrating and exhausting. We felt like there was little we could do for him.
Finally, by the time he was in high school I found a professional who specialized in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). He said my son had a high functioning form of Autism. He then looked at me and apologized for all the previous experts, but explained that Autism is very difficult to diagnose and that is why Jacob had a variety of diagnoses. I felt relieved to know what was going on with my son, yet unsure about what I could do for him. This was new territory for us and I didn’t know how to proceed. Of course, the story of my son is much longer, but if you feel frustrated about similar circumstances I wanted to share some resources with you.
So what is Autism Spectrum Disorder? (more…)
Seven Roadblocks That Keep You
From Accomplishing Goals
So you want to set some goals! That’s fantastic! But you’re feeling apprehensive or a lot is going through your mind about why you should or shouldn’t do this or that.
Start by asking yourself some tough questions. “What could keep you from accomplishing your goal?” If you’ve already tried a goal and didn’t succeed, you may ask, “What held me back from my goal?” It is imperative that you become aware of what’s keeping you from accomplishing your goals so you can crush those obstacles!
Here are seven roadblocks that may be standing in your way:
What is making you fearful? Is it going outside your comfort zone into the great unknown? Are you afraid you’ll fail? No matter what the cause, know that you’re not alone. Everyone has fears. It is hard to make the initial step over that wall of fear especially if you think you’re going to fail.
I don’t like the word failure because there is shame attached to it. Each time I’ve failed at something, I’ve also learned some very valuable insight! So failure, really isn’t failure, it is a learning experience. They only way it is true failure is if you didn’t learn something from it. If you’re passionate about your goal, don’t give up on it or yourself!
Not having a plan or being unclear on the goal
Okay, you have a goal in mind, super! Now it’s time to get clear on the goal and make a plan for it. If you don’t you will end up regretting it because you’ll lose the emotional strength to carry through to the end result. Why? Because the steps you’re taking and your end result aren’t clear. It’s like walking down a path, not knowing where it leads. No matter how much strength you have at the beginning, you will eventually become exhausted with no end in sight!
You can use the SMART goal acronym for a start:
- S = specific • M = measurable • A = achievable • R = realistic • T = timely
You should use a method like the one above to create your plan for the goal you’re wanting to achieve. This will help you to clarify the goal you have.
Listening to negative talk from others or yourself
Negative talk from others or even from yourself has been proven to increase stress levels and lead to depression. The five people you interact with the most, have the greatest influence on you. If there are negative influences around you, do what you can to change the company you keep. Who wants to be told they aren’t good enough to accomplish something?
If you’re speaking to yourself negatively, it will only lead to discouragement, lack of commitment, lack of confidence, procrastination and making excuses why not to move forward with a goal. Would you speak to your closest loved ones the way you speak to yourself? Be kind to yourself! Be your own best friend and not your worst enemy!
I don’t know…should I do it, should I not do it? Are you being wishy washy? If you are passionate about a goal and I mean REALLY passionate, why the heck are you being wishy washy? The only way favorable results happen is by being committed! I know it can be difficult to be committed to something, but if you are, don’t waver from it! You can use your commitment to your favor! Commitment builds momentum, keeps you optimistic and eventually leads you to the bliss of success!
Working on too many goals at once
I think I heard someone say, Prioritize! Yep, that’s the word! We all have many goals, even sometimes unknowingly. What you must do is prioritize your goals. If you don’t you’ll be lead to a ton of frustration and procrastination. You can’t accomplish a huge goal until some smaller goals are met. For instance, if your ultimate goal is to own your own business, you have to set smaller goals in place, prioritize them and then accomplish those goals first. It’s really no different than taking baby steps. We all have to start somewhere!
Living in your comfort zone
People LOVE what’s comfortable. It’s all nice, soft and cozy in your comfort zone. I love my comfort zone also! When a person steps out of their Comfy Zone, it can be scary not knowing what to expect, how things will work and so on. I’m here to tell you the truth…if you step out of that zone, over time you create a new Comfort Zone with the things, people, memories and accomplishments that you truly do want in the zone with you! This is why it is so imperative that you discover what holds you back from taking a step out of you current comfort zone to the New and Improved Comfy Zone that you want!
Procrastination and Making excuses
I’ll do it tomorrow! We’ve all heard that or even said it! We cannot let procrastination take us away from the success we get when we complete a goal. Once we complete a goal, it builds motivation, inspiration and passion for the next goal! Procrastination steals your motivation, excitement and leaves you high and dry every time!
This brings me to Procrastination’s cousin, Making Excuses! She likes to tear down all hope and discourages you from even trying. The excuses people come up with vary of course, but when you ALLOW yourself to make excuses, it opens the door for negative self-talk and kicking yourself in the butt! You then feel guilty for not taking action! The best alternative…STOP MAKING EXCUSES!
Leave comments below and let me know how you’ve overcome these types of obstacles.