When you feel lonely, you might gravitate toward the couch and watch TV. That’s OK. But when we do that for hours and hours, the loneliness seems to stay longer. It lingers and takes a seat.
When you feel lonely, you might hang out with people who don’t have your best interests at heart, people who don’t really understand or appreciate you. But you think, “At least it’s something, and I don’t want to be alone.”
When you feel lonely, you might reach for another glass of wine, to numb the pain, to get your brain buzzing, so at least there’s some sound to pierce the silence.
When you feel lonely, what can help is to create, to write, and to explore. Because this is how we connect. This is how we connect to ourselves. And while connecting to others is vital, your foundation for everything is your relationship with yourself.
When you feel lonely, remember that you have your vast, rich, inventive imagination. You have your hands. You have your heart. Below are ideas on how to connect to each one.
Write about your loneliness. First, it’s important to acknowledge and honor how we’re feeling, to honor what is true for us right now. Which is why it can help to explore our loneliness. Write about what your loneliness feels like. Write about the thoughts that arise when you’re lonely. Write about where the loneliness aches. Maybe it’s your head, or maybe it’s your stomach. Maybe the loneliness shows up as an overall weariness or a sadness you can’t seem to shake. Maybe it’s a veil or a fog.
Release it all onto paper. You can keep what you write, or you can throw it away. It doesn’t matter, as long as you give yourself the space and permission to be as truthful as possible.
Create a story about your loneliness. Create a story about a little girl or boy who feels lonely. Write about where their loneliness comes from. Write about what helps him or her. You can even create the drawings for your story, and make it into a children’s book.
Sometimes, taking on a different perspective—especially that of a small child—can help us be kinder to ourselves. And maybe it can help us to figure out another healthy way to cope.
Collage with random items. Set a timer, and challenge yourself to find five items you can use to create a collage. Toothpicks. Old magazines. Gum or candy wrappers. Old invitations or cards. Ads. Coupons. Then put on your favorite music, and let your imagination roam.
You can even create different collages using different themes or words or perspectives. One collage might have something to do with fall or the holidays. Another might simply have the theme of “silly.” A third collage might be the work of a “new avant-garde artist.”
Write a letter to yourself. Write a letter about something you’re having a hard time forgiving yourself for. A mistake at work. A fight with a friend. A series of very bad decisions and behavior. Even though it’s written to a reader, this letter is breathtaking, and is a brilliant example of what we could write. And it makes forgiving ourselves a bit more feasible.
Write a letter to a trait or body part you appreciate. Thank you legs for taking me on a refreshing run this morning. Thank you hands for helping me to write about my pain. Thank you ears for letting me hear soothing melodies on my commute.
Write a letter of encouragement for yourself. Essentially, give yourself a kind, empowering pep talk.
Again, when you feel lonely, connecting to others is important. You might call a close friend, join a book or running club, or take a photography or painting class. Think about what you love to do or something you’d like to try—then find the people that do that, too.
It’s equally as important to connect to ourselves. Which we can do through writing and creating. In fact, you can even make a list of activities you can turn to when loneliness lingers. This list can serve as a reminder that there are many ways to reconnect. You don’t need empty, superficial things—like wine or toxic people—to feel better, to feel less uncomfortable, to feel a sense of kinship.
Build a meaningful, solid connection with yourself. And seek out people who care about building a meaningful, solid connection with you.