Loneliness is one of those feelings that can creep up on you when you least expected it and can happen to anyone of us.
It is a normal human emotion! Most of us will experience it at some point in our life.
What can cause loneliness
- You live alone
- Members of your family are away on holiday
- Children have left home ’empty nest’ or you are the first amongst friends to have a child
- A relationship has ended
- Contact has been lost with your friends or family
- You’ve been in a bubble and now out the other side
- You’ve worked, worked and worked. Been so busy that when you have come up for air, looked around and no one is here.
- Specific time of year – Christmas, Birthdays or even bank holidays.
- No longer have anything in common with friends
Living with Loneliness
Admitting to yourself that you are lonely can be hard and heart-breaking. The thought of admitting it to someone else is devastating and somewhat embarrassing.
People often think that if you are on your own a lot, then you must be lonely. However, you can be with a big group of people and feel alone. You can even be in a relationship with someone and feel alone. I know I have been there!
I’ve known this happen in the workplace. There has been a ‘click’ with some of your colleagues. People have worked together for many years and you are the newbie.
There have been times when I have heard people say that they dread Christmas. They don’t have anything in common with their siblings and can’t contribute to conversation or just don’t get on. So they’ll sit in the corner observing and wishing they could be somewhere else on their own! Think about it, feeling lonely and wanting to be on their own! That must be a harder one to admit.
You’ve probably come across times when you feel that you no longer have anything in common with friends. I quite often say you are on different pages of the book. You could even be on a different novel altogether. Some people are able to keep the friendship alight, appreciating the differences. However you will probably recall a time where you and a friend drifted apart.
My personal journey
I have felt lonely at different times in my life, quite often by experiencing some of the scenarios mentioned above. Here is my experience:
I remember quite a few years ago I went on holiday with a boyfriend. As the week went on, I began to feel so lonely. I can’t swim very well, so I would sit with my feet in the pool. There were times when he was in the water at the other end of the pool. Not swimming just relaxing. He wasn’t doing that by me or making conversation, he was kind of sat at the other end. It was like we were strangers. Let’s just say the romance came to an end shortly after.
In my previous HR career I often would visit different locations of the business. I would be out and about quite a few days of the week. My time with the HR team in Head Office was the odd full day and a few hours here and there. What I experienced when I was in there was not feeling part of the team. Whatever I, and others that were out and about, tried just didn’t work. At the time I lived alone, had to travel hours to get to different destinations and felt no camaraderie with colleagues. It felt a very lonely job. I found the positives in why I was working there and eventually found another role, with some travelling, to move on.
And I must admit to feeling lonely at significant times of the year or events. Especially times when I had no partner and everyone else is busy with their family. It seems as you get older you no longer get the invites with a ‘plus one’, as you did in your 20s.
What can you do when you feel lonely
You’ll know what is right for you, however, here are some suggestions for when you feel alone.
- Take a walk
- Visit a local café and take something to read
- Go to a library and look something up
- Pick up the phone and call your mum, best friend, sibling, child, niece or even nephew
- Make a list of 5 people to meet up with over the next few weeks – then arrange it
- Put some music on and dance
- Watch a feel good film
- Write down 3 things you are grateful for
- Do a meditation or breathing exercise.
If you want more detail on some of these and some more suggestions. You can download my top ten tips by clicking here
One thing I must stress to you if you are feeling lonely – “Being lonely doesn’t mean you are unloved”