You know those people who absolutely love to do everything solo? If you’re not one of them and you live by yourself, it can be hard even to wake up alone every day.
This loneliness is a slippery slope to mental health issues like depression. It’s something to take seriously, even when your friends tell you how much you should love being in charge of your life.
When you’re lonely, it’s hard to remember all the good things that come with living a life where you get to make all the decisions. Most of the time, you’re content.
But occasionally, that loneliness settles in and makes you feel, well, alone.
You know you’ve just got to push past those feelings, but it’s not always easy.
When you’re dealing with loneliness by yourself, try these quick tips to dig yourself out of the pit and come back stronger.
Make a Local Bucket List
Bucket lists are usually full of adventures that aren’t always feasible in our day-to-day lives.
A local bucket list, on the other hand, has all the things you’d like to do in a reasonable vicinity.
Do you like to shop? What stores have you never been in that you might enjoy?
Some of the quaint little places in downtown areas get overlooked in favor of chain stores. These shops usually have quality items at fair prices and owners who appreciate your business.
Add locally owned and operated restaurants, museums, libraries, and trails to your list. Make it a goal to cross one or two new things off your list every week if you can.
Do Something For You
What did you always want to do as a child and never had the chance? Maybe it was learning how to play guitar or taking dance lessons. Or perhaps you wanted to write a book or paint portraits.
It’s never too late to learn something new. And in the process, you get to know yourself all over again.
Living alone allows you to focus on your dreams and goals without the concern of how they affect others.
And since it’s so easy to find DIY projects and lessons online, the internet—and your imagination—is the limit!
Have a Lifeline
For most of us, it’s challenging to reach out and admit to others that we’re struggling.
Even if you do find the courage to text or call a friend, if you just say, “Hey,” and act fine, they’re not going to know you’re in a rough spot.
When you’re in a stable place, set up a date or a phone call with a trusted friend or family member. If you don’t have anyone close, consider getting professional help from a counselor or a church pastor.
Admit to them that when your loneliness kicks in, it can get deeply depressing. Come up with a code phrase that tells them you need a friend. It could be something as basic as, “Hey, you got a minute?”
And now that you have a lifeline, use it. Don’t convince yourself you’re bothering that person. That’s not up to you to decide. They agreed to be your help in times of struggle and will let you know if it’s becoming too much for them.
Identify Your Triggers
Living alone isn’t always depressing and lonely. Sometimes, it’s fun, and you can’t remember why you ever wanted to live any other way!
Other times, you find yourself in a pit of dark despair. When you’re there, try to figure out what put you in that spot. By identifying what triggers your sadness, you can learn to deal with it better.
Triggers are sights, sounds, smells, and other signals that cause your amygdala to wake up and freak out. This is the fight-or-flight part of your brain that’s essential for survival.
The problem is that these triggers aren’t helping you live. They’re convincing you that to stay safe, you have to go into hiding.
You essentially have to retrain your brain to change how it reacts to the triggers you have.
A very successful way to do this is to work through your feelings and actions with a therapist. Licensed mental health counselors know how to help you find your triggers and give you strategies to handle them.
Get a Pet. Or Maybe a Plant.
When you have a pet, like a dog or a cat, you have something to shower your love and affection on.
Dogs return those feelings with unconditional love back. On the other hand, cats show you love when they feel like it, but you still know they care.
Another reason people who live alone should get a pet is that they need you. They’re a responsibility that forces you to get up and go, and once you’re moving around, the momentum carries you through the day.
If you can’t have a pet, a plant works similarly. They don’t reciprocate your affection, but there are benefits to indoor plants that help your mood. They’re also hard to kill, so you don’t have to have a green thumb to keep them alive.
Life is often challenging, whether you’re alone or surrounded by people. But living alone when loneliness hits is a different level of difficulty.
Getting through each day on your own can feel like you’re walking through mental fog. You know what you have to do, but convincing yourself to do it is another thing entirely. And there’s no one there to make you do it, so why bother?
It’s a normal but dangerous cycle of thinking that ends up making you feel worse instead of better. These tips can help you break that cycle. You’ll get through the fog and out to the bright and colorful world on the other side.
Adam Marshall is a freelance writer who specializes in all things apartment organization, real estate, and college advice. He currently works with Grove Slippery Rock to help them with their online marketing.