Loneliness, if we allow it to take over, can be crippling and a lot of people experience it at one point or the other in their lifetime.
When one feels alone and lost, it is very easy to feel sorry for oneself and to get dragged down further into a space of loneliness.
Even when surrounded by family and friends, if one’s social needs are not met or one feels that they are not understood, people can feel lonely.
Loneliness can further be triggered by the loss of a friend or family member, by children leaving home, on starting a new job or school, feeling left out at an event, etc. Biological changes that we go through, like postpartum depression, could also add to the issues of loneliness within us.
A lot of times this loneliness, which should be a source of strength in solitude, is untapped and can drag one into despair.
Loneliness can also make us reach out for friends that think alike, for validation, and one of the places where we can reach out freely due to its anonymity is the internet. More and more people are turning to the internet for support systems and while this has huge benefits, people need to be careful for three reasons.
— One is that, a lot of time, people on the internet are not who they claim to be.
— Two is that predators seek vulnerable, lonely people as they are often easier to groom. They form relationships with you, make you trust them and in a lot of instances, end up using your compromised images.
— Three is that we need to find the answer within us. Once we build on the strength of solitude from within us, we can look for friends on the internet, as we are can be logical and rational in our interactions and will be able to spot dangerous situations and deal with predators in a better way than give into fear and loneliness, in our vulnerability.
Being lonely might even make one prey to toxic relationships and a whole spectrum of other related issues. You might have heard about various issues like phishing, online harassment, identity theft, online sexual abuse, privacy violations, blackmail and extortion, catfishing, romance scams,etc. You can see so many instances of online scams and issues in the news every day. That is why it is important to try to draw strength from within yourself and deal with the debilitating situation of loneliness, and turn it into one of strength.
Mentioned below are some pointers on finding strength within solitude.
- Drawing strength from solitude
Reconnect with the part of you that cares about yourself and wants to see you live a good and happy life. Don’t give up, keep trying and you will be able to tap into the strength with in.
- Practice self-care
It is important that you do not forget to take care of yourself amidst all the chaos in your life. Practice self-care. Prioritize your mental and physical well-being. That starts with proper sleep, walking, exercise, declutter, mindfulness, drawing your boundaries etc. Go to a place that holds special memories. Eat your comfort food. Visit your friends or family. Listen to soothing music. Practice yoga. Find your inner peace and tap into that energy. Tell people around that you need a little time and focus on making use of further tools to find your pathways. Don’t be hard on yourself. Forgive yourself. You are doing the best you can. Finally/further leverage on the tool of gratitude and positivity.
- Enjoy your own company
Sometimes, you are your best company. No one understands you like you do. Learn to love yourself and to be alone with yourself. Take some time off to read a book, sip on some hot tea/coffee, watch a movie, listen to music, go on a solo trip. Just think about the things you enjoy and do them. Do not be disappointed when your friends are not available when you make plans with them. Almost everybody is going through something that you might know nothing about. That is why it is important to enjoy your own company. Tap into your space of solitude to find your strengths and uniqueness.
- Take it slow
Engage in things and social activities that make you happy instead of exhausting yourself trying to fit in everywhere. Relax and try to deal with situations as they come. Try some relaxing breathing exercises. Try to take a break from your fast-paced life if you can. When you decide to socialize, try to do it slowly so that you are not overwhelmed. Say No where you feel need to; prioritise and draw boundaries whether in personal or social spaces.
- Keep away from negativity
Keep away from toxic people and negativity whether in the online mode or offline. Take a break from exhausting social activities. Sometimes, being alone is better than being in the company of people that make you feel overwhelmed and negative. You do not need other people’s validation to thrive. Seeking validation online from strangers or online friends is not the key to happiness/ Do not turn to substances that may give you temporary relief. These are dangerous to your physical and mental health and would have long lasting consequences.
- Positive vibes only
In addition to keeping away from negativity, try to bring in as much positive aspects as you can into your life. Make a list of things you are grateful for and do this for 21 days. During this time, look for positive quotes that will help to empower your thoughts. At the end of this time period, gradually lessen your reliance on these and keep the positive thoughts and gratitude in your mind. Your life can turn around with the power of gratitude positive thought process.
- Digital minimalism
Take a break from social media and go on a digital detox for a couple of weeks if watching others social media makes you lonelier. Get back to your device or social media profile only when you feel up to the task.
- Strengthen existing relationships
Try to strengthen the bond with the people that are already in your life. It could be your friends, family members, classmates, co-workers or neighbours. Call or text them more often, take them out for a movie or meal, invite them into your home, take a family/friends trip, anything, the possibilities are endless.
- Take up a new activity
Sometimes, a change of circumstance or scenario is the best medicine for a lonely heart. You can sign up for a sport, take up dancing classes, try pottery, painting, etc. Try to go back to your younger self and think about the thing that you really wanted to do as a child, something that used to give you pure joy. You can also go on outdoor walks and interact with nature. Set aside some time each day to do this activity that you are passionate about.
- Volunteer for a cause
Volunteering and helping others can do wonders to your overall well-being. It reduces stress, gives you a sense of purpose and increases your self-confidence. When you help others, it can make you feel good knowing that you were able to do something meaningful. Moreover, it can be a wonderful opportunity to meet new people and improve your social skills. Look for volunteering opportunities and find a cause that you really care about. Finding people who care about the same things that you do automatically gives you something in common and hence, it would be easier to interact with them.
- Get a new pet/plant; Plant trees
A pet can be a very good companion. Pets are loyal, loving and playful. If you feel that a pet might be too much for you at the moment, start with a simple plant. Tend to it. Caring for another life has always had a positive impact on people.
- Exercise regularly
Exercising regularly has a good impact on your physical and mental health. Exercising releases chemicals like endorphins and serotonin that improve your mood. If you are someone who is new to exercise, take it slow. Do not try to do everything together. You can try jogging, running, swimming, cycling, dancing or you can even take up a sport. Participating in a team sport is also beneficial since you can interact with people and get a good workout at the same time.
- Reach out for support
If nothing seems to work and you still feel lonely or down, take support from others. If you feel that you need the help of a mental health expert, do not hesitate to approach them. Your mental health and well-being are as important as your physical health. There is nothing wrong with seeking help from others. Everybody needs a helping hand at one time or the other.
As you go on in life, chances are that you might find people who might be dealing with loneliness. If you do, be kind and gentle with them. Try not to push them away if they reach out to you. They might not be really good company at the moment because they might be going through something but rendering a helping hand can really make an impact in their lives.
-Article by Salma Jennath
-With inputs from team Bodhini