With graduations, weddings, and kids going off to camp, college, or on a global trek — all marker events which reach a crescendo at this time of year — many of us find ourselves on the precipice of being empty-nesters or on our own for the short or longer term. There are really no words that can adequately describe the vacuum that can engulf us when we are freshly on our own…even if we relish aspects of our new freedom. Like all things in life, there’s always a downside and upside to consider and hopefully embrace.
If you’ve had any of these experiences, even those which are positive, chances are that at some level you feared and/or felt a sense of loneliness.
According to Dr. Sanjay Gupta, in his article Loneliness Can Really Hurt You, “Loneliness is an invisible epidemic that affects 60 million Americans. Everyone feels lonely at times in their lives, but chronic loneliness poses a serious health risk. New research suggests that loneliness and social isolation are as much a threat to your health as obesity. As Richard Lang, MD, chair of preventive medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, puts it, people need to attend to loneliness ‘the same way they would their diet, exercise, or how much sleep they get’.”
As with other aspects of big “S” self-care, though, it can be confusing to know where to begin in order to feel better.
There are many ways we can all diminish loneliness, regardless of age or stage of life, both alone and with others.
So…let’s get this conversation started and begin at the heart of the matter — with YOU!
Being lonely is different than being alone (have you ever felt lonely despite being in a crowd of people?). It is a feeling, not a fact of life. In fact, time spent alone can often be exactly what you need to clear your mind, boost your energy and mood, engage your creativity and reconnect with your inner passions. Instead of putting yourself down (our natural default mechanism) find a way to take pleasure in some solitude.
Have you ever appreciated doing any of the following on your own?
* walking along a beach
* doing yoga
* going out for a meal or movie
These are just a few of the many ways to enjoy your own company.
A couple of weekends ago my husband was out of town for several days. In addition to chatting with friends I’d been meaning to catch up with, I filled my time reading, writing, and, in the best of my alone time, happily binge-watching a full year of Frankie and Grace on Netflix!
Sometimes simply reinforcing the connection with yourself is the best kick-start antidote to any lingering or pervasive sense of loneliness you may experience.
Do you have any other suggestions as to how we can ease loneliness when spending time alone? Let us know in the comments below!
(Also, be sure to check out Wednesday’s Ageless Beat blog when we continue this discussion about ways to assuage loneliness through connection with others… Any tips you think we should include in that (or future) blog(s)? Let me know today by sending an email to Karen@KarenSands.com or feel free to comment below!)