When we get older, our relationships change. Our social patterns reconfigure themselves. People go on vacations. They move away. We move away, leaving loved ones. And, unfortunately, sometimes we lose people we care very much about.
It isn’t hard to understand why seniors experience bouts of loneliness. Feeling alone is a detrimental state of mind. It negatively affects the way we feel about our self-worth, the ability to confidently interact in social situations, our view of our own attractiveness. These insecurities are often hard to identify in our peers, however. Most lonely people never express their feelings, and instead experience them in solitude, creating a terrible cycle.
Eliminating loneliness is important. The task can feel overwhelming on its own, but all it takes is a little bit of effort. Here are some tips to help overcome lonely feelings.
When we’re feeling blue, we tend to be hard on ourselves. Those experiencing loneliness are tougher than most. So whenever you’re thinking no one wants to be with you, or that you’re old and ugly, or boring, or whatever it is, change the inner dialogue. Recognize the thought, then exchange it for a positive thought. You are not old and ugly, you’re beautiful and fabulous. You’ve led a full life, and that certainly can’t be anything but interesting. Learning to love your own self is the first step to changing the way you feel.
Build a New World
It’s easy to stay home all night when we feel worthless. Don’t do that. Yes, you may have a real feeling of social awkwardness, but the reality is, you’re just as engaging as everyone else. If you feel uncomfortable around certain people, do an honest assessment of why that may be. Is it that you’re intimidated by them, and is that a correlation to how they treat you, or how you feel in comparison? Understanding your feelings helps not only interact with individuals, it may mean you have to cut a few people out of your life. This isn’t the same as not engaging, but the idea is to build a world with positive, supportive friends.
A good strategy here is to replace every toxic relationship with a new, positive one. That means getting out of your house and engaging with the world. Get out of the house! Being around people is the best way to not feel lonely. Find activities to engage in, groups to join, places to volunteer. The internet is a great source for social activities, Facebook groups, meetup.com, and local community sites are excellent places to look for new ways to engage and make new friends.
Remember, too, that you’re not as alone as you think. Between family and lifelong relationships, there are more people who have stood by you and will remain in your life. Make sure you acknowledge these people every time you’re feeling a pang of loneliness.
Ask for Help
Chances are, after exercising the above, you feel pretty good. But no one has a good day every day. If you feel upset or lonely, or just generally need to talk to someone, reach out to someone in your network. This is part of the reason you’ve built a community of trusting, kind people. It’s okay to utilize it when you need to.
A lot of people find it beneficial to speak with therapist. When we’re younger, we tend to just move past trauma without ever dealing with it, and then in our older years, it’s still there, hanging around deep in our subconscious. If you’re lonely, this is particularly useful. Talking about your worries without restriction is especially freeing. Therapy helps address your concerns, and then tackle them.
Alone is Not Lonely
What a luxury to spend your days as you please. No one to tell you to wash your dishes, you can watch whatever you want on television, you can take a nap without being woken up. These moments are joyous and freeing. It does not mean you’re unlovable, it means you live on your own terms. How empowering! And as for that support network you created, whenever you feel like a friend, just reach out. Your time spent alone isn’t solitary confinement, it’s spending time with the best person you know.