Loneliness can and does descend on each of us from time to time - especially when we feel separated from others. And for those who live alone, feelings of emptiness and isolation can be overwhelming.
But, here's an important point: Loneliness is not a "state of being" reserved for single people. That's a stereotype - that single people are lonely or lonelier than their married counterparts. In fact, loneliness has very little to do with being alone. It has everything to do with your state of mind.
The next time you begin to feel disconnected and alone, take a moment to remind yourself that your happiness is in your hands, and that there are positive steps you can take to avoid the chill of loneliness. Consider these:
Move. Physically move. Get up and get out of the house. A brisk walk or quick trip in the car can psychologically puts you in a different frame of mind and lift your spirits.
Pick up the phone. Call a friend. Ring up a neighbor for advice. Call your mom or dad or son or daughter to say, "I'm thinking of you." Order something for yourself from a magazine. A quick call can set something in motion and change your mood.
Do something for someone else. Drop someone a note of congratulations. Bake some goodies for your colleagues at work. Leave fresh flowers on a neighbor's doorstep. When you are thinking about and doing for others, you "get outside" of yourself and feel less lonely - more a part of the world.
Reconnect with long lost friends. Use your time alone to rekindle friendships. Set aside an evening or some time during your weekend to drop these friends a note by e-mail or snail mail. Tell them what's going on in your life and express how much you'd like to reconnect and catch up. You'll be rewarded with calls and notes in response to your efforts.
Put something on your calendar. Having something to look forward to can assuage feelings of loneliness. Take the initiative and make arrangements to go out to eat or see a movie with a friend, family member, or colleague. Take on the role of "social secretary" and you'll gradually feel your social life and social circle becoming more active and interesting.
Become a "joiner." Consider taking a continuing education class or joining a gym, church group, dance class, or hiking club. Try something new, or choose a pursuit that deepens an existing interest of yours. Your single status gives you the freedom and time to try things that you might not otherwise try. Take advantage of this unique time in your life!
Living alone with success includes letting go of the idea that being married is the antidote for loneliness. Holding onto this idea is risky. To avoid feeling lonely, you may find yourself in an inappropriate relationship out of desperation. Better to get good at living alone and managing your loneliness by choosing to engage in healthy, productive activities that expand your world, challenge your intellect and bring you joy.