How Not To Feel Lonely When You’re Alone
If this sounds like Kelly Clarkson’s song “What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger),” that’s because it is.
I was listening to that song in the car when the idea for this post popped into my head. I realized what a powerful line this really is: “Doesn’t mean I’m lonely when I’m alone.”
One of the biggest triggers for my emotional eating was feeling lonely. Looking back on it, loneliness was also one of the reasons I pursued thinness with such passion.
My own company just wasn’t enough for me. When I was alone, I felt lonely — and sad. I figured changing my appearance — or eating certain foods — would eliminate that sadness.
Not surprisingly, it didn’t.
But what did was seeing alone time in a different light and learning to enjoy my own company.
Alone time gives us a much-needed break. It lets us sit with our own thoughts. It gives us the opportunity to focus on our needs and wants (and figure them out in the first place). And, ultimately, it’s rejuvenating and fun.
Conway puts it perfectly:
For me, solitude is not an empty space, but a richly detailed tapestry of my interests, thoughts and desires. When I am alone I am free to dance inside the textures of my dreams without the pull to be elsewhere, the constant nagging feeling that I should be doing something else.
Here are a few ideas to help you savor solitude.
1. Do your favorite things. One of the best things about being alone is that you’re the boss. You’re the leader; what you say goes. So you can spend your time any way you like it — and engage in your favorite activities. For instance, when I’m immersed in writing or reading, I’m empowered, not lonely. (Aside from talking to someone, there’s nothing more powerful than reading a passage that strikes you at the core, that stops you in your tracks and you realize, “Wow, you, too.”)
2. Do something that soothes you. At first, being alone might feel uncomfortable or awkward. But alone time is a great time for self-care. When I’m alone, I might practice Pilates, do a few stretches or even take a nap (up to 30 minutes according to research is good for you). You might try yoga, meditation or a walk. For me bike rides are also both soothing and exhilarating.
3. Daydream. How often do you just sit with your thoughts? Or think about your needs, wants and dreams? When you’re alone, you can let your mind wander. Maybe you start making sense of a sticky situation. Maybe you think about your dream career. Or maybe you just sit by a window with a great breeze, and not think of anything at all.
4. Watch movies no one likes. Kick back on the couch, grab some popcorn and put on the movies that everyone else refuses to watch with you. Remember that this is your time, your fun time to relax, laugh and enjoy yourself.
5. Watch trashy TV. These are the programs you might feel awkward or embarrassed to watch in front of others. But you just can’t help yourself. It’s OK, I can relate.
6. Try self-portraiture. Yesterday, I wrote about how photographer Vivienne McMaster was able to open her eyes to her beauty and worth thanks to a camera. You might find that you see yourself in a different light, too. Or just have fun snapping funny pictures. Here’s a powerful exercise to try.
7. Be a tourist in your own city. We often get so used to where we live that we close our eyes to all the interesting landmarks and nature around us. Take a few hours or a full day, and pretend like you’re a tourist in your hometown. Be sure to take your camera and snap away.
8. Enjoy a spa day. Search online for recipes for homemade face or body masks and have fun preparing them. Light a few scented candles, turn on your fave music and enjoy the pampering.
9. Savor a delicious dinner. Maybe you try a new recipe, or get your favorite takeout. Either way, savor your meal using your five senses.
10. Journal your heart out. Write about your day or your dreams. Here are a few other ideas.
11. Plant yourself at a bookstore and read away. I love bookstores (and big libraries). There’s so much inspiration when you’re surrounded by books. Find a little nook that has your name on it, sink into one of their comfortable chairs, and start reading (or doodling or browsing through your fave magazine).
12. Date yourself. What are your favorite spots to go with someone? Could you try going there by yourself? For instance, you can see a new exhibit at your local museum, eat at a yummy outdoor restaurant, go to the movies or have a glass of wine at a swanky bar.
How do you become OK with being alone? What are your favorite activities to do by yourself?
Tartakovsky, M. (2014). How Not To Feel Lonely When You’re Alone. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 4, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/weightless/2012/06/how-not-to-feel-lonely-when-youre-alone/