Before, when I would think of loneliness I would think of me burrito-ed in a duvet, eating Ben & Jerry's right out of the carton a la Bridget Jones. To this day, chocolate fudge brownie makes me feel a twinge of blues. But you can actually embrace loneliness — it doesn't have to be this terrible, crushing feeling. Instead, eat ice cream underneath a duvet cover because it makes you happy, not mortally depressed. But how exactly do you turn around such a heavy feeling? Something with the weight of loneliness makes us do angsty, embarrassing things, like listen to Avril Lavigne on loop and stare out a window longingly, wishing friends could round the corner and save us from this misery.
But you see, it's all about perspective. If you view loneliness as a dark cloud, then that's how you'll react to it. And how do we fair with dark clouds over our heads? We mope around and shuffle in our robes until it passes and someone invites us out. But if — instead — you saw it as an opportunity, it'd be a different feeling, entirely. And it totally is! Here is a moment where you don't have to entertain small talk, don't have to check in with others, don't have to get a group consensus — rather you can do exactly what you want when you want it. It's fabulous, and you can learn to think that way, too. Below are seven tips on how to embrace loneliness rather than fight it!
1. Take Yourself Out On Fun Dates
Have no one to hang out with? Well, screw 'em — take yourself out instead! On lonely, down-in-the-dumps days I like to take myself out on fun dates and remind myself I don't need a plus one to enjoy life. I buy tickets to ballets, give myself a beach day with a book (and champagne smuggled in a McDonald's cup,) go indulge in a chi-chi fusion restaurant with scary ingredients, go cafe hopping — anything that strikes my fancy. And how lovely is it being able to do that without having to consider an extra person's preferences or schedule?
And I'm not the only one that does that. Lifestyle writer Kayla Albert at personal development site Think Simply Now shared, "I have a friend who will take herself on “dates” on a regular basis — she’ll go out to dinner and order an expensive glass of wine, see the movie no one else wants to see, spend a day at the art museum. She doesn’t wait to be in the company of others to enjoy herself, she uses the time alone to do the things she really wants to do." You don't actually have to feel lonely when you're alone — just hang out with yourself!
2. Stop Feeding Into The FOMO
The feeling of loneliness takes a dark turn when you start over-indulging in the FOMO mentality. You're not alone because your schedule opened up, rather you're alone because everyone hates you and they're all doing amazingly interesting things without you. Get ready to die alone.
Nah girl — don't think that way. Albert explained why that thought process ruins things: "Recognize when you’re suffering from “the grass is greener” mindset. Often times I would be perfectly content sitting at home by myself if I didn’t have a little voice in the back of my mind telling me that everyone else is out having a good time, surrounded by friends." Instead of feeding into that mentality, just see your loneliness for what it is: You have some free time. It has nothing to do with your personality or your love-ability.
3. Don't Try To Distract Yourself From It — Embrace The Feeling Of Being Alone With Silence
You know when you tell yourself not to think of something, and then that's all you can think about? This applies here. Instead of occupying your time with distractions, try embracing the solitude and the quiet.
Emma Seppälä, Ph.D., author of The Happiness Track and contributor to Psychology Today, explained, "Makes sure that the activity is not one that becomes a distraction. Choose to do something that simply allows you to be in silence. Be as present as you can with everything around you and within you." So when loneliness hits you, take a walk outside. Go to the beach and sit by the water. Grab a coffee and sit on a park bench. Sit on your house stoop and watch the people walk by. And let the feeling sink in and stick for a little bit. By constantly distracting yourself from it you're conditioning yourself to believe it's a bad feeling — by embracing it with quietness and calmness, you're learning to enjoy the feeling.
4. Delve Into The Things Only You Quirkily Love
Being lonely is a solid opportunity. Finally — you can go do all the weird stuff you like to do! Go to a poetry reading when everyone else groans at the invite. Go eat at your adventurous restaurants, or go indulge in your favorite bland food. Go play Quidditch, or spend that amount of money no one else wants to put down with you and go to the truffle making class.
Lifestyle writer Adrienne Breaux at Apartment Therapy chimed in, "Think about what it is that you LOVE about living alone and try to find ways to indulge in it every day. If it's walking around with a face mask that makes you look like a horror movie character, go for it! If it's eating right out of the ice cream container, go for it." Whatever it is you're too embarassed/ quirky/ adventurous/ boring to do with other people, now is your chance to do it alone.
5. Force Yourself Into Growing
It seems that our loneliness only grows if we try to smother it down with a lot of inane activities. So instead of jam packing your afternoon when the blues rolls through, instead focus on doing something that'll help you grow as an individual and will make you more well rounded. For example, I'm a terrible cook so whenever loneliness hits me and I want to wallow, I go to the grocery store, splurge on interesting and scary ingredients, and try to teach myself something grown up like pot roast or beef bourguignon. Five minutes into the whole process and I'm feeling too smug and excited to think about how I felt alone just an hour prior.
Breaux chimed in, "It's hard to feel lonely when you're trying to master a new skill, practice a hobby or try out a new recipe. When it comes to keeping loneliness at bay, one of the best ways to do it is to occupy your time with things that feel enriching, creative and exciting." So get to work!
6. Become Obsessed With Something
Have a lot of time on your hands that isn't filled with entertaining people? Instead of occupying it with coffee dates with acquaintences you only kind of like, take this as a chance to become obsessed with something. When you find something you're truly passionate about, those pockets of alone time are seen as blessings since it lets you work on your project.
Lifestyle writer Scott Young at Think Simple Now pointed out, "If you have a passion or sense of meaning for your daily routine, any temporary isolation is far easier to enjoy." Whether you settle on a goal or ambition, or if you find a hobby or a subject you're completely fascinated with, let it take over your life a little. That loneliness will be just what you need in order to indulge in it.
7. Let It Make You Do Things You Normally Wouldn't
You know the great thing about loneliness? It'll push you to consider doing things you normally wouldn't if you were surrounded by your friends. You'll begin to eye that one house party invite you weren't seriously considering, might venture out to a bar alone, indulge in that rainbow rink you heard opened up, begin looking up MeetUp groups...Interesting things begin to happen when you've got no one around. And you can meet really cool new people/ learn something new about yourself/ develop a new interest if you begin to do that!
Lifestyle writer Vishnu at self development site Pick the Brain, said, "Be prepared to go to events where you might not know any of the other guests. Attend events you normally wouldn’t. Get out of your house even if your every thought throbs with the word 'no.'" Loneliness gets you out of your comfort zone, settles you, and helps you learn. Begin indulging in it, not wallowing with it.