As anyone who’s ever experienced it well knows, dealing with loneliness is hard — really hard. Sure, most everybody gets lonely from time to time, but being chronically lonely is a whole other beast. It often leads to sadness and depression that’s hard to shake, and that compounds the feelings of isolation. If left unchecked, it can turn into a cycle of negative emotions that will bring you down and leave you there, so don’t give it a chance to set in. Being proactive about it from the onset of those familiar pangs of sadness is your best bet for beating the isolation blues.
Busy, busy, busy
The notion of keeping busy in order to avoid the feelings of loneliness before they happen is not rocket science. It’s a no-brainer. But there are only so many hours we can feasibly work in a day to stay busy, and we can’t assume our friends will always be there to keep us company. They have lives, too. If you have fleeting feelings of loneliness, then getting caught up on home projects that you’ve been putting off is your killing-two-birds-with-one-stone answer. Whether it’s sorting pictures for that scrapbook you’ve been wanting to make, recipes that need organizing, or some long overdue DIY efforts around the house, get stuff done and keep yourself busy.
Make a difference
If your loneliness is more than fleeting, filling the void with something meaningful can have a tremendous impact on your happiness and self-esteem. Consider volunteer work in some capacity. Hospitals are often looking for volunteers to come in and sit with newborns that need holding and cuddling. This is extremely rewarding work that can and will pay you back 10 times over. Ask your local hospital if they need assistance in any of their children’s wards. If kids aren’t your thing, consider a local charity, or working with Meals on Wheels, or perhaps volunteering at a nearby animal shelter. Most communities have a volunteer literacy program where you can make a difference in someone’s life by teaching them how to read and write. Do something good for the soul.
Learn something new
It’s a well-known fact that physical and mental activity can help combat depression. Sign yourself up for some classes you’ve always wanted to take. Whether it’s further education like a computer course or CPR, or something fun like art or Pilates, this is an excellent way to occupy your time and get you back out there mingling with other people in the real world. Don’t put it off another minute. Loneliness can’t grab much of a foothold in your life if your dance card is full.
Take a chance
The beauty of volunteer work–besides the obvious rewards of helping others–and taking classes is that you’re putting yourself out there, whether you realize it or not. If your loneliness stems from being single or from empty nest syndrome, then do something about it. No one is going to come to your front door and ask you out. You’re going to have to take a chance and put yourself out there. Try something like salsa dancing. It’s a wonderful environment for meeting new people, and it keeps you physically fit. If you don’t know how, take some classes. Dance classes are filled with men and women of all ages, most of whom are looking to meet new people. Or join a club that meets in various places where you’re likely to encounter new people. If it puts you out there, just do it!