6 Ways to Cope With the Feeling of Loneliness

As some of you may have seen, I’ve just got back from two weeks in Florida for my best friend’s honeymoon (that ten of us crashed!) I had a really good time the majority of the time, but there were some extremely difficult moments too. About a week into my trip one of the little boys we were with made fun of my wonky face - for the third time - with horrible impressions whenever I laughed. His parents told him off and after that he didn’t so much as look at me, presumably scared he would do something “wrong” and get another telling off. It was awful!

I’ve practised a lot of acceptance over the last two years but this was a major trigger for me and set me back completely. I couldn’t fully enjoy the second week with everyone, so I withdrew as much as I could, feeling unable to go out with them. I got so in my own head about it that I couldn’t shake it off. Towards the end, feeling so empty and disconnected from everyone, I found myself counting down the days to go home. Part of me felt silly and ungrateful whenever I looked around at the surroundings I was in so I decided to take the opportunity to enjoy my own company again, do things that make me happy and improve my mental health and wellbeing in the process.

Here are some ways I felt happier whilst alone and how you can cope to:

Treat yourself to a trip out

On one of the last nights I knew I simply couldn’t join everyone for dinner. I was feeling lonely on my own but even lonelier with everyone. I politely refused and took myself off to the outlet's food court. They had live music as it was Friday night and I took a seat overlooking the fountains outside and the beautiful red sky. I felt more relaxed than I had in a while and remembered that you don’t need others to make you feel good, nor do you need to wait for others to go out. You can go alone and still have a wonderful time, making your own memories in the process. It’s important to simply ask yourself “what do I want to be doing?” It’s your life and you have choices. You don’t have to sit and feel bad to please someone else.

Journal & feel grateful

Whenever I felt really bad and couldn’t shake my mood, I noticed the blue sky, and palm trees and the fact I was overlooking a pool able to read in peace. I craved going home and seeing familiar faces that know my story and don’t judge me for it, but I knew simply thinking about it wouldn’t make any difference. Instead, I started to truly appreciate my surroundings and focus on the positives. I reflected on what I was grateful for and also got to know myself better through journaling and exploring my values and beliefs, understand why I was struggling so much with new comments and discover future coping mechanisms for when this inevitably happens again. If this happens to you, make a list of the things around you that make being in your situation or place right now a positive thing.

Start a new project

Learn something new that you put all your focus into or set a new goal and make it so compelling that you have to achieve it. For me, that's Spanish. Spanish seemed like a nice to have at first but feeling isolated and lonely made me miss my boyfriend even more. He lives in Barcelona and we talk about moving there but I knew my current feeling of isolation was one I wanted to try and avoid in my future, and moving to a new country, unable to speak the language or make friends easily would only likely cause this feeling again in the future. Every single day after that I studied without fail. Learning makes us feel better when we accomplish things and was also a huge distraction to my current feeling. It's also a huge motivating force when you have a strong why behind you.

Don’t stay indoors with yourself  

It sounds so obvious but even a short walk outside and a change of scenery can massively boost your mood. In Florida, it was pretty obvious I wouldn’t be sitting inside all day anyway but it was tempting on the days I wanted to hide away. Whenever we were relaxing with no plans, we’d sit by the pool all day doing nothing. But this didn’t help my isolated feelings especially when feeling disconnected from everyone. I took a short walk by myself instead and stumbled upon the most tranquil and beautiful coffee shop, hidden away by a garden of flowers with birds humming and peaceful music playing. Going there for just half an hour each morning in the final week became something I really looked forward to. Getting outside for a short walk where you can think and feel freely made me feel miles better.

Exercise or join a class

Walking for miles each day around the theme parks was actually a godsend and on the days we relaxed by the pool I still took a walk to help alleviate anxiety. Exercise releases endorphins making you feel happier and we’re likely to meet people along the way too. 

Make a list of past challenges you overcame

One of my favourite things to do when feeling lost, isolated or disconnected is to make a list of the past challenges you didn’t think you would overcome but did. You are more resilient than you think and your current feelings of loneliness are only temporary. Think back through all the challenges and hurdles you’ve faced before in your life, write down what you did in each situation and how you got past them and feel the confidence and peace that comes with knowing you’ll get through this time too.

Remember that everything is temporary. This feeling right now is temporary but always live for yourself and no one else :)

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