It’s important to realize why we feel lonely, because only then can we see how we might address it.
It has taken me almost 3 weeks to write the final part in this loneliness series, and no it’s not because I was busy or lacked the words to write. Well, it is simply because I have had to deal with my own intense bouts of loneliness.
Over the past 3 weeks, I would get these intense panic attack and it got worse last week Saturday. When I was semi-calm enough to analyse it, I realised that one of the reasons for these panic attacks was an intense urge to be held. Now, before you slap a sexual label on it, no, it was not an urge to have sex or be held sexually. I just wanted to be held until I was calm, preferably by a man, lying in bed underneath a cocoon of soft duvets, engulfed in a comfortable and heartwarming silence.
The image I just described is what I want on some days, other days all I want is fast Internet and a LARGE bowl of Hans & Rene Agbalumo and Zobo sorbet (you people should stop dulling and come and make me a brand ambassador).
What am I saying sef? Well, I’m telling you that you are not alone in this loneliness plague.
Now that I got my subtle “please forgive my absence” message out of the way, let’s get to it!!! So hurray, we made it to the last part of this mini-series and again I cannot get over the fact that I got to talk about this and I’m forever glad that it somehow opened the gates for people (I know) to talk about their own loneliness.
We have discussed what loneliness means and how it can affect us, now how do we deal with? Remember, we identified that loneliness is not exclusively for single people, so you also can experience loneliness within a relationship.
Loneliness can be overcome but it requires a conscious effort on your part to make this happen. This effort to make a change, in the long run, can make you happier, healthier and impact others around you in a positive way.
So here are the tips to dealing with and overcoming loneliness (by myself and the people I spoke with.
- Recognise loneliness for what it is: Don’t ignore it, hoping it will pass. You have to proactively deal with it but first, you need to acknowledge that it exists and accept it.
- Understand the effects it has on your life: Now that you have accepted loneliness for what it is, you need to fully understand how it affects you both physically and mentally. A perfect understanding of how loneliness affects you ensures that you are aware of its triggers, patterns etc. and then you can chart a plan or strategy to combat it.
- Learn to enjoy your company (Ms. E): “A part of me is resigned to the fact that my friends have their own lives and won’t always be there and I might not meet ‘the one’ (s) so I best get used to my own company”- Ms. E.
- Find an activity you enjoy: Volunteer, take up running, go to Zumba class, gardening etc. anything that will take you out of your familiar zones and maybe present opportunities to meet people and make preferably positive social interactions. “It’s taking the step to put yourself out there, even if it’s difficult and out of your comfort zone. Basically, the world doesn’t owe you a fulfilled life, you have to seize it. I make plans to hang, find like-minded people, even if it’s doing a weird hobby” Mr. T.
- Talk to your partner: Contrary to popular belief, being in a relationship does not make you less lonely, as loneliness transcends your relationship, social, financial etc. status. So what do you do when you become lonely in a relationship? You talk, I mean you communicate effectively with your partner. Apart from helping them understand how you feel, talking puts your partner in the loop and can reduce any tension they may be feeling from your loneliness induced actions. It can also help you both come up with coping methods that encourage relationship growth.
- Let it run its course (Ms. E & Myself): I don’t deal. I just let it run its course. I have personally gotten to the stage where I know what I’m feeling is loneliness and there are days where I actively combat it with steps that have worked in the past, other days I just let it run its course. This seems to be a step a few people I know also practice, feel like crap for a few minutes, hours or days and bam, they’re good to go.
- Speak to your mind: “I think I have to combat my mind sometimes. Like do a reality check, I realised I have some great friends, good peeps in my life and also became more secure in myself that there’s nothing wrong with who I am” – Mr. T. I personally do this thing where I pause and tell myself off or praise myself, it’s always weird and sometimes hilarious when I do it but it keeps me in check and also lets me know how awesome I am. Tell yourself that this doesn’t define who you are and you will come through it stronger and better.
- Absolutely refuse self-pity: I am super guilty of this, I often spiral into the blame zone on this pesky self-pity scale. I try to find a way to blame myself for the way I feel. I’m not saying don’t examine what role you play in any situation but don’t let that discovery destroy your sense of self-worth. Yes, you made that mistake that then escalated to something bigger. Own your mistakes and move on. Made this image last month to remind myself that it’s okay to start all over again, you can too.
- Develop quality relationships: Loneliness can be contagious, so you need to consciously be around people who can infuse some “zest” into your life. Focus on building relationships with people who share similar interests and values with you. Be around people who make you want to be the best version of yourself, people who understand how you feel and are committed to making sure you don’t let your loneliness get the best of you. I am thankful to have a great support system.
That’s it people, we have come to the end of this series. I hope this helped someone as it did me. As usual, don’t forget to leave your thoughts in the comment section as well as tips that may have helped you in dealing with loneliness.