Everyone gets lonely, especially when you are in a new town far away from those you know and love. It’s hard, very hard. And sometimes it’s even emotionally draining. Here are some tips to help you manage loneliness when living by yourself far away from home, family, and friends.
Go Out Often (AKA Don’t Pout at Home)
This is the one that I struggle with most. I am an introvert, a hardcore introvert, and I prefer to be at home. Sometimes when I get offers to go out, I turn them down because I had plans to relax on my couch and do nothing by myself. But other times, when I say yes despite every bone in my body wanting to turn it down, I have an amazing time and I no longer feel so lonely. If you’re an introvert like me, going out and spending time with people is really hard and you have to be intentional. But, it is so very worth it in the battle against loneliness.
Be Friendly When in Public
I think this is something people take for granted in general. When we are out and about running errands we get tunnel vision and forget about all those other people around us. I have found that this mentality only feeds loneliness. When you don’t allow yourself to see and interact with those people, you forget they are there and you feed your loneliness. However, if you see these people and provide a passing smile or acknowledgment, you are more likely to walk home a little less lonely. Maybe you can even try to spark up a conversation with the person checking you out at the grocery store.
The other day, I was dropping off a return package at the post office. The post office always seems to be one of the least friendly places on my list of errands. The people seem to want you out as quick as possible. And I accept that and make a point to tell them to have a nice day. This makes me feel better, but it's not very helpful because the people don’t care. However, this day I was dropping off my package and there was a massive line.
As I stood in the line I observed the workers, one of which was striking up a conversation and being kind to everyone. When it was my turn, he was the worker who checked my package and immediately he sparked a conversation with me about old cartoons because he noticed I was wearing an antique Mickey Mouse t-shirt. He doesn’t know this, but I went home a little less lonely that day. Moral of the story, when you acknowledge the existence of those around you, even in passing, you feel less lonely and you could be helping them battle their own loneliness.
If you struggle with going out and being social like I do, making friends is even harder. And that is why I highly recommend befriending those you are around naturally. For me, making friends by going out and being social with strangers is discouraging, because I just don’t really do it, nor do I really understand how to do it. Because of this, I have learned to instead create my social life around coworkers and peers. Sure, this narrows my hunting grounds, but it also forces me to be nice to and aware of those around me. By befriending those around you, you are battling the lonely in a way that is more natural and easy. Sure, I encourage you to go out and find friends in other ways. But, this is a great way to start, and chances are, you have something in common with your co-workers, I mean, you chose to work or go to school at the same place, right?
Now, this tip won't intrinsically help you with loneliness, but it will be useful. When we get lonely, sometimes we accept offers from strangers despite our better judgment because we are trying to make friends and build relationships. This is not a good idea. Do not go out at night alone, do not have strangers over, and do not go over to strangers homes. These tips are common sense, sure. But when loneliness becomes overwhelming, sometimes these ideas don’t seem to back. Be safe.
Keep Busy, But Not Distracted
Sitting at home watching Netflix is the worst idea I’ve ever had since living alone. Doing this just leads to me feeling even lonelier. If you throw Netflix on in the background and clean the apartment, cook dinner, play a game, write a paper, or really anything productive, it’ll affect you far less.
Regularly Talk to Family and Friends
If you are like me and can’t visit friends or family whenever you’d like, be sure to contact them regularly. I text or snap chat my sisters, parents, and friends almost daily and talk to my Dad and boyfriend on the phone when I am able. This immensely helps! If it wasn’t for connecting with loved ones regularly, I would feel even more alone. But those who know me best are able to encourage me and allow me someone to work my problems out with while I am still making new friends.
Deal with the Emotions
Those lonely feelings are real, and they won’t go away if you pretend they aren’t there. So you’re lonely, that’s okay. Feel those emotions and deal with them. When you get lonely, accept the emotions, and then battle them. This battle depends completely on you, I tend to call or text family or friends when I get lonely, or I’ll pull up a project to work on, sometimes I’ll run to the store simply to be around people. If you’re feeling lonely, don’t suppress—deal with it.
Battling the lonely is REALLY hard, almost cyclical. And when you are in the midst of it, it can be so hard to see a way out. But there are so many easy ways out, try going out, being friendly, befriend coworkers, be safe, keep busy, communicate with your loved ones regularly, and then deal with your emotions.
Have you battled with loneliness? I’d love to hear about how you have gotten through, or how you are getting through it, leave a comment below!