Loneliness vs Alone Time

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By S.Kefenste-Francis

While walking in my local park, I continually remind myself to do my deep breathing exercise, breathing in the positive and breathing out the negative. I really enjoy nature so being out here really allows me to appreciate the views, the trees and the people. Sometimes it’s a blessing and a curse having too much time on my hands.  Days on my own can be great but by day 3 im climbing the walls, calling my friends and family to see when and where we can link up. This month I will share my story, offer a few tips and suggestions to support us during our lonely and alone times.

Loneliness

Health risks

  • Loneliness, living alone and poor social connections are as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. (Holt-Lunstad, 2010)
  • Lonely people are more likely to suffer from dementia, heart disease and depression. (Valtorta et al, 2016) (James et al, 2011) (Cacioppo et al, 2006)

Loneliness and people of all ages

  • A study by The Co-op and the British Red Cross reveals over 9 million people in the UK across all adult ages – more than the population of London – are either always or often lonely.
  • A survey by Action for Children found that 43% of 17 – 25 year olds who used their service had experienced problems with loneliness, and that of this same group less than half said they felt loved.

https://www.campaigntoendloneliness.org/the-facts-on-loneliness/

After 2 days of alone time I find myself becoming rather unhappy, sorry for myself and bitter towards others who are happy.

I no it’s awful I wrote it so I know how it sounds. I’d rather be honest with myself in order to address the reasons behind these feelings. It stems from being a part of a large group of friends that I hardly see as much as I would like, it stems from being recently married and having to live separately from my husband, it stems from the time of year, the day of the week, the time of day, lol it can be everything and nothing. While I know I’m a character only God really knows, I honestly commend my family and friends for being there for me in my times of high sensitivity and while my vulnerabilities are at their peak. I am truly grateful.

Techniques I use to change my mood and my outlook,

I really enjoy speaking with people, a simple hello, a smile, a happy New year from a mother sitting with her child watching the world go by gave me a reason to smile earlier today, I wouldn’t suggest going out and randomly trying to spark up a conversation with a complete stranger, but being open to saying hello as you pass a family, a couple, a single person or an older person can really make you feel good. I believe it’s something to do with being acknowledged; knowing you’ve been seen and sharing a simple act kindness can really feel good.

I write in my journal and gratitude book to get the things on my mind out of my head and onto paper.

Giving thanks in a gratitude book, allows you to focus on only the good and great memories, people and places you want to remember. It’s a great tool to use to pick your spirits up, reflecting on previous events you’ve written about, it’s like reliving those special moments and you can’t help but smile and remember how good it felt at that time.

All the things you need to do that you probably don’t want to do are the things you could and should crack on with now.  Rather than trying to do everything start with just one small thing, something you know can be completed, won’t take too long and will make you feel better once it’s out the way.

During times of loneliness it’s a great idea to talk about it, which isn’t the easiest to do, it shows your vulnerable side which as adults were usually too strong to show, it’s actually empowering and strengthening to show your true self and share that you are either lonely, depressed, struggling with life and day to day tasks. Talk to a close friend or family member, become a volunteer to get you out the house and to support others who may be needing companionship and support also

Alone Time

There are aspects of being alone that can be enjoyed, no need to talk to anyone, no need to answer to anyone or plan how long to stay or go.

During alone time I’m happy to listen to music, new school and old school, whining up my waist or jumping around like Im still a teenager. I enjoy reading a book, I found myself practicing my hombre lip look and playing with my eyebrows for that on fleek look we know and love so much.

Making a face mask or painting my nails, doing my hair, writing a song or a poem, scrap booking with old photos and cards. These are activities I enjoy doing when im on my own.

Think about the activities you enjoyed as a child and young person, for example I was a part of a dance group as a child, we used to mash up the stage! Now I could join a dance group or take part in a dance fitness workout where Im able to dance and keep fit.

If you used to write and still enjoy it, how about joining a creative writing class, or an art class if art is your thing.

Treat yourself, go for a meal or have a treatment such as a massage or pedicure, go to the movies or a live music, open mic, spoken word night. It can be scary going out alone, but it can also make you feel proud of yourself and you can meet new people

My final suggestion is to look into some self care and self love practices, build a list of practices that you enjoy, want to bring into your life and use them as tools to use. Schedule them into your day, put them into your calendar and make them a part of your daily, weekly and monthly practices.

We won’t always be able to be around others,  and once we can accept that we can focus on the things we enjoy doing to ensure we have things in place to keep us busy when we are either feeling lonely or having alone time.

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