being yourself

The benefits of solitude: How to be alone without being lonely

Unlike loneliness, solitude has a constructive purpose, and it can help create meaning in your life.
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Some people avoid solitude like the plague while others love being alone and thrive best when they are far away from big crowds. Being alone gives them the time and space to discover who they are and who they want to be. But living by yourself has its own challenges. If you are not mindful, you may start feeling lonely. There is a big difference between loneliness and solitude. According to Psychology Today, loneliness is a “negative state marked by a sense of isolation.”

It is possible to be around people and still feel lonely. For example, you are at a restaurant with your friends, but everyone is scrolling through their social media feeds instead of talking to each other. That can make you feel lonely. Whatever the cause may be, this feeling can be deeply unsettling and can trigger negative consequences for your mental health, leading to anxiety and depression.

On the other hand, solitude is something that you choose. Psychology Today calls it “a constructive state of engagement with oneself.” You can just be yourself and take this time to reflect on what exactly you want to do with your life. If you are someone who struggles to live by yourself, you might be looking for some ways to feel less lonely when you are alone. Follow these steps to avoid feeling lonely.

Focus on the present moment

Most of the time, loneliness is rooted in the past. For example, you may think about happier times when you were surrounded by your friends and family or you might catch yourself wishing you could go back in time and enjoy those moments again. If you delve into these thoughts, you will give end up feeling lonely. So, the next time you find yourself wandering into the past, pull yourself back by focussing on the present. Time will pass away whether you feel lonely or not, so you might as well make the best of it. Enjoy the moment and involve yourself in fun, productive and engaging activities that will keep you from dwelling in the past.

Set up a daily routine

Following a daily routine can help boost your sense of purpose and motivation, thus improving your overall wellbeing as a result. Schedule time each week for activities such as cleaning, washing, or running errands so that these don’t pile up. Set up a time for going to bed and waking up every day. You can also set aside a few hours for your interests and hobbies such as gardening, painting, or reading. However, don’t pack your schedule and leave some time for spontaneity too. This will keep you occupied and help keep loneliness and anxiety at bay.

Use social media wisely

Social media has both pros and cons. You can either use it to scroll through others’ news feeds for hours, or build connections with interesting, like-minded people. Once you build relationships, you can have more meaningful conversations where you get to know others better, inquire about their feelings and forge lasting ties. Social media platforms can help tackle loneliness when you use them to enhance existing relationships or develop new meaningful connections. On the other hand, it could be counterproductive if used as a substitute for real-life social interaction.

Join an online community

Engaging in activities with like-minded people who might have similar interests can help curb the feeling of loneliness. Whether it is an online art class or a book club, joining a community can provide you with a sense of belonging that comes with being part of a group. This can help boost your creativity, give you something to look forward to during your day, and help stave off the feeling of loneliness.

Try new things

You can easily get bored when you are living alone. To keep yourself occupied, you must find something to do in your spare time. You can explore and discover hobbies and activities that capture your interest such as singing, dancing, or meditating. Once you find the activity that excites you, all your time and efforts will be focused on making it a worthwhile experience, which will help in reducing feelings of loneliness.

Find ways to help others

An effective way to combat loneliness is to care for others. Research shows that you can feel a sense of purpose when you help others. For example, if there’s a possibility, you can find ways to help underprivileged people, such as volunteering for NGOs or donating money. Even small acts of kindness go a long way, so you can start by offering to buy groceries for your neighbour the next time you step out for yours or lend a helping hand to a friend. These altruistic gestures go a long way in helping fight the feeling of loneliness, building relationships, and creating meaning in your life.

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