- 6 Ways to Fight Loneliness if You Live Alone
- Loneliness vs. Living Alone
- Get Organized to Prevent Inertia from Taking Hold
- Join a Club or Group that Gives You a Sense of Purpose
- Fight Loneliness by Volunteering for a Cause that You Care About
- Use Technology to Stay Connected
- Plan Destination Weekends
- Discover the Lost Art of Letter Writing
- How to Survive Loneliness
- Twin Flames & Soul Mates:
- 13 Tips For Living Alone For The First Time & Making The Most Of Your Independence
- 1. Don’t Be Scared
- 2. Do Look For Some Extra Security
- 3. Resist The Urge To Be A Total Slob
- 4. Practice Relying On Yourself
- 5. But Remind Yourself To Go Out
- 6. Be Nice To Your Neighbors
- 7. Have Some Emergency Numbers On Hand
- 8. Go Nuts With Decorating
- 9. Learn Some Handy Skills
- 10. Remember To Grocery Shop For One
- 11. Stick To A Budget
- 12. Let People Into Your Dwelling
- 13. Revel In The Glory That Is Your Privacy
- Adjusting To Living Alone After A Breakup
- LIVING ALONE AFTER A BREAKUP
- 7 Tips for Living Alone for the First Time
- Does Living Alone Have a Negative Influence on Psychological Well-Being?
- How To Deal With Loneliness When Living Alone, According To Experts
- How People Who Live Alone Conquered Loneliness
6 Ways to Fight Loneliness if You Live Alone
In a world that has become increasingly connected, you would think that it would be easy to fight loneliness. In reality, the opposite is true. Loneliness is still a big problem and it’s likely to get worse as more baby boomers reach retirement age.
Loneliness vs. Living Alone
Part of the problem is that more people than ever are living by themselves. According to the New York Times, 200-million adults across the world are living alone. This represents an increase of 33 percent from 1996 to 2006.
Of course, “living alone” is not the same as “being lonely.” Many of us enjoy our independence and like living by ourselves. However, for those of us that are not alone by choice, finding ways to stay connected is critically important to our health and happiness.
Since launching Sixty and Me, I have had the opportunity to talk with hundreds of our members. Through these conversations, I have noticed several things about our most socially successful members. These behaviors will help you to fight loneliness and stay connected, even if you live by yourself.
Get Organized to Prevent Inertia from Taking Hold
When you live by yourself, it’s easy to get stuck in your own routines. Sometimes this is a good thing. It’s nice to be able to walk around the house in your underwear, eat breakfast whenever you want and watch your choice of movies. On the other hand, when you live alone, you need to make an extra effort to get out of the house and interact with others.
Find things to look forward to. You have a busy life and so do your family and friends. So it’s best to book social activities as far in advance as possible.
Don’t wait for other people to come to you. Be a source of new ideas. Tell your friends that you are going out on a certain night and invite them to come along. Try a new cooking class and see who wants to join you. Whatever you do, do something.
Join a Club or Group that Gives You a Sense of Purpose
Several studies have shown that people who attend religious services tend to be healthier than people who do not. Exploring your spirituality can be a great way to stay connected after 50. But, even if you aren’t a particularly religious person, you can still find a club or group that gives you a sense of purpose.
What do you believe in? What passions do you want to explore? No matter what you care about, there are certain to be other people who feel the same way.
Fight Loneliness by Volunteering for a Cause that You Care About
One of the great things about being over 50 is that you have a lifetime of skills, talents and experiences to share with the world. If your kids have left the house, you may also have a little extra time to volunteer. Research shows that baby boomers are helping to drive an increase in volunteering among older adults as we approach retirement age.
Volunteering is a great way to stay connected with old friends if you care about the same causes. It can also be a great way to meet new people who are passionate about the same things that you are.
If you are looking for volunteer opportunities, you may want to take a explore Volunteermatch.org. No matter how you want to change the world, they can help you to find an organization that needs your help.
Use Technology to Stay Connected
A lot has been written recently about how technology is making us more isolated. Of course, technology isn’t the problem. How we use technology is the problem.
For example, Facebook is a fantastic tool for staying in touch with friends and family, but, most of us use it as a glorified news reader. We are perfectly willing to sit back and watch our friends’ lives fill our screens, but, we seldom reach out and ask the tough questions that make intimacy possible.
Skype is another fantastic service for staying in touch. Many people say that their video calls with their grandkids are one of the highlights of their week. I’m definitely one of these people! My granddaughter and I often have virtual ice-cream eating parties together, even though we live hundreds of miles apart. Sometimes maintaining long-distance relations just requires a bit more creativity.
Plan Destination Weekends
When your family lives all over the world, getting everyone together takes time and effort. Finding a location that everyone can easily reach is a great first step. Once again, taking control is often the best strategy. Suggest a family trip to a cabin in the mountains, plan a skiing weekend or offer to organize an adventure tour.
Making the weekend a “destination event” will make it more likely that people will attend. Sites like Airbnb.com have tons of affordable places to stay and it’s usually more fun to stay in a house than a hotel room – especially if your grandkids are coming along.
Discover the Lost Art of Letter Writing
Sending a handwritten letter to someone you love is one of the best ways to express your feelings. Your letters may even form a part of your legacy. As Anna Quindlen wrote: “Words on paper confer a kind of immortality.” Wouldn’t all of us love to receive a letter, memoir or journal from someone that we love?
Writing a letter is an entirely different experience than writing an email. It isn’t “efficient.” It takes time. You have to pick each word with care. That’s the whole point. So, the next time you have something important to say, why not say it in a letter?
How do you fight off loneliness and stay connected if you live alone? What advice would you give to a single friend who is feeling a bit lonely? Please join the conversation.
Loneliness can be compared to a thick winter’s fog.
It stifles and strangles you, pulling you under a heavy blanket of depression, pervading all that you see. Loneliness causes you to filter life through a lense of desolation and deep despair. Your spirit becomes so heavy with the weight of your isolation that you often feel like laying down, and dying.
I know. I’ve been there many times.
Whether you feel loneliness in a crowd, in your marriage, in your workplace, friend circle, religion, culture or simply by yourself, there is hope.
I’ve felt alone for many years of my life, either because of my temperament, or the religion that was imposed on me since birth, which taught that outsiders were “evil”, causing me to distance myself from everyone. Since then, I’ve left religion, but still find it difficult connecting with people.
While I still feel like an Outsider, in the year prior to meeting Sol, I discovered how to be alone but not feel lonely.
I want to share with you today how exactly I did this.
Today, I want to share with you how I turned my desert of loneliness into a garden of Solitude.
How to Survive Loneliness
I hope these 10 recommendations will open some new doors for you:
1. Learn to have fun by yourself again
This was perhaps the most important method I used to overcome my loneliness.
When we lose friends or family members, or simply drift away from everyone around us, we tend to lose all sense of fun and playfulness, preferring to wallow in our misery instead. Realize that you can have fun alone, and that you don’t need to rely on others to make you happy. The person who can enjoy life alone can never have happiness taken away from them – to truly understand this is liberating!
I started by sticking flyers about diarrhea all over the walls and mirrors of a woman’s bathroom. I never knew fecal matter could be so freeing! Start by doing something small that you enjoy. If you used to like being wacky, be wacky. If you used to like being reckless, be reckless. Take small steps first.
Regain what you have lost, by yourself. You will be a stronger and better person that way. Why? Because you won’t rely on, or use, other people for your entertainment.
2. Learn to laugh again
As you may know, laughing has been scientifically proven to benefit your health. But what happens when you’re lonely? Well, chances are, you don’t laugh. At all. I didn’t.
When you really think about it, it’s pitiful how much we rely on others to make us happy. That’s why learning how to laugh again, by yourself is so important. It empowers you, and once again, it allows you to not use other people for your entertainment. They’re not vending machines after all!
If you find it hard to laugh at yourself, try putting on a funny film. Not only does it take your focus away from yourself and your misery, but it reboots those endorphins in your brain again. Funny pictures can also help, like those found on this website. Thank god for LOLCats.
3. Have intimate time, alone
I realize how intimidating that sounds. Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting you have a downstairs rendezvous or anything (although that could help).
My definition of intimate time is spending quality time with yourself, just like with a friend, or someone you love. I did this by spending a few minutes every day looking at myself in a mirror. I understand how bizarre that sounds, but staring deeply into your eyes and smiling every day really makes you feel happy.
One result of this strange practice of mine was increased self-acceptance. Every day we tend to look at ourselves in mirrors to pamper and preen, but only superficially. But have you ever stopped to stare at yourself – earnestly? Try it, and you may be blown away at how much self-awareness you develop.
4. Become your own best friend
I’m sure you’ve had a best friend in the past that now, for one reason or another, has drifted away. How did they treat you? Most people would say something along the lines of “nicely”, “considerately”, or “kindly”.
Is that the way you treat yourself? If not, why? Why can’t you be your own best friend? What is it about yourself that you’re so insecure or hateful about? Don’t you deserve love and respect just like everyone else? Exactly.
But many people falsely believe that a best friend can only be someone else. This is an absurd idea, because how can you learn to love and appreciate people truly, if first you don’t love and appreciate yourself?
Treat yourself kindly. Compliment yourself. Be considerate towards yourself, and show respect. This is the foundation of self-love.
5. Become your own counselor
This is extremely important if you want to learn how to survive loneliness.
One of the most irritating things in the world to me is listening to people who moan and complain about their problems but don’t stop to question why they’re happening, or what they can do to solve them. For god’s sake, you have a brain, so use it! It’s natural for us to complain – it can be therapeutic – but constant whinging is a mental disorder that needs to be diagnosed.
Becoming your own counselor is invaluable because it allows you to explore your problems, rather than wallowing in them. Think: why are you lonely? When did it start? How are you feeling? Why are you feeling that way? What can you do to solve your loneliness? By the way, cudos for checking out this article, because in a sense, you’re being your own counselor now.
Analyzing your problems really does help put them into new perspectives. When I experienced loneliness I read self-help books, wrote in journals and mapped out my issues on pieces of paper to give them a visual perspective. The more I analyzed them and looked at them with different perspectives, the easier I found it to address my inner turmoil.
6. Be near people
By nature, we’re social beings – it’s hardwired into us to crave the physical, emotional and psychological company of fellow human beings, hence the existence of loneliness. So go out and be near people.
If going out with your so-called “friends” alienates and depresses you, like it did with me, go and sit anonymously in a public space. This way you can entertain yourself by people watching, and be in close proximity with other people. Although this doesn’t necessarily cater to your emotional and psychological needs, it’s a start, and was something I found useful in my loneliness.
Volunteer or join an interest group. Get out of your comfort zone.
There are many beautiful, kindred souls to be found in volunteering circles and interest groups. In fact, if you’re looking for a friend, this is the perfect way to meet new people. Loneliness tricks you into thinking that everyone is alike and that you won’t ever be able to find a kindred soul. Well, you’re wrong. I had immense, horrifically mammoth expectations of people and managed to find someone who complimented me perfectly (Sol), after creating a meetup group of my own.
There is a kindred soul out there somewhere who understands your plights, who can echo your thoughts and who can connect with you in ways you wouldn’t think were even possible. I’m a testimony to that.
8. Take care of yourself, physically
Neglecting yourself when you feel down is tempting. Of what consequence are you when the whole world is dark, dreary and crumbling into a void of emptiness? None. But taking care of your body is the beginning of recovery. So be playful. Lighten up. Your body deserves comfort, grooming and pleasure.
Have a bubble bath. Lie on a soft pillow. Buy yourself a nice treat. Get a massage. Do your hair. Drink some tea or fine wine. The more I respected my body, the more I found respect for myself in honoring my comfort and taking care of my needs.
9. Listen to calming music
Don’t make the mistake of listening to depressing, dark music to match your mood. It can be extremely tempting to do this, and I gave into the temptation many times.
However, in the end, I found that listening to soul-soaring music was the healthiest, and wisest choice. Whether it be pop, classical or ambient, listening to upbeat music actually increases the endorphins (the happy chemicals) in your brain.
Personally, my favorite thing was to get up YouTube and listen to ambient music playlists. If you want some keyword suggestions for YouTube, try “ambient music”, “harp music”, “dulcimer music”, “hang drum music”, and “singing bowl music”. All of these instruments are beautifully ethereal and will quickly take you beyond yourself.
Twin Flames & Soul Mates:
Learn how to forge true, deep, and enduring twin flame and soul mate love – no matter what stage you’re at, starting right now. This book is for anyone seeking to find and create an authentic, fulfilling, and awakened relationship.
10. Learn to love joy more than misery
It’s quite possible that you’re in love with your misery at this very moment in time.
I know this sounds bizarre, but see this article which explains this concept more in depth.
Unconsciously, I realized that I was accustoming myself too much to a miserable way of life. After a while, when all we know is isolation and depression, we tend to grow accustomed to this way of living. It becomes the norm. And in a sickly way, it even provides us with comfort. This means that when we try to break our “norm” of isolation and depression we become uncomfortable, suddenly thrown out of our comfort zone. This can lead to self-sabotaging behavior, and to unconscious decisions to find excuses to be comfortable in our misery again. Becoming aware of this can truly liberate you when learning how to survive loneliness.
I hope these suggestions were, and continue to be helpful to you.
If you have any tips on how to survive loneliness, please feel free to share them below.
Feeling lonely when living alone is one of the things that can make your life a living hell. Whether you have just had a divorce and no longer stay with your spouse or you chose to live alone purposely, you need to find ways in which you can deal with loneliness. This is because you might find yourself having stress and before you know it depression sets in.
Determining the perfect way to handle loneliness and stress when living alone is not a piece of cake. However, with a little help, you will find the going quite easy. In the end, you will live a stress-free life thus achieving your dreams. Here are some of the things that you can consider doing when staying alone thus dealing with loneliness and stress.
- Have Evening Plans
If you are afraid of going home to an empty space in the evening, then you should consider taking some friends out for a movie or dinner. Through this action, you will get to interact with your friends for a couple of hours thus feeling exhausted. With your night occupied, you will only have to sleep when you get back home. Therefore, you are not going to think about the lonely life that you are living.
- Find Some Things To Do
Keeping yourself occupied while living alone will go a long way in reducing your stress levels. Simply look for something you enjoy doing and you will totally forget that you do not have company. For instance, you can decide to watch movies or play video games, as they will act as a good distraction. Alternatively, opting for an online part time job such as essay writing not only keeps you engaged but also offers an additional income.
- Keep Close Contact With Your Family
Talking to your family members on a regular basis is one of the best ways in which you can maintain your happiness while living alone. Actually, getting to know there is someone who still cares about you can guarantee the sense of security that you badly need. This is because they will offer the help that you need during difficult times while constantly reminding how important you are to the world.
- Seek Professional Help
When things seem to be going out of hand, the best possible solution would be to seek professional help. This is because you may find it hard in finding sleep during the night or interacting with other people. Therefore, talking to a professional will ensure you are able to restore your mood and happiness thus living a normal life.
Living alone may at times be what you just need if you are to feel independent. However, when things are not going to plan, you should consider making use of the above tips until you finally feel secure. You will then avoid the stress of living alone thus taking your life to the next level.
13 Tips For Living Alone For The First Time & Making The Most Of Your Independence
If you’re about to venture off into the world of solo living, you may be thinking one of two things — this is going to suck, or this is going to be the best thing ever. Hey, you may even be feeling a mixture of both. That’s because living alone for the first time is all at once exciting, overwhelming, and scary. And it’s totally normal to feel every single emotion.
So it’s a good idea to figure out how you’ll cope — good, bad, and otherwise — as soon as you start the apartment hunt. I say “cope” because you’re probably used to parents and siblings, or friends and roommates, milling about 24/7. Without them around for advice, and company, and security, you may find that living alone can be quite the shocking change. When I first lived alone, I was all about the freedom, but I also felt desperately lonely (and scared, and overwhelmed, etc.). It was a major change, and one that took a while to get used to.
Living alone takes some adjustment, but it usually turns out to be just fine. So if you’re about to sign your very first lease, then check out the tips below for some ways to successfully live the solo life.
1. Don’t Be Scared
One of the biggest differences between living alone, and living with others, has got to be the fear factor. When you live solo, there’s no one nearby to cling to when something goes bump in the night, and one to assure you there is not, in fact, a ghost lurking in the shadows. So be sure to remind yourself that everything is fine, the door is locked, and help — if you truly do need it — is not that far away. Your sanity will thank you.
2. Do Look For Some Extra Security
OK, so you shouldn’t freak out over every creak in your apartment. But you should take some extra measures to actually make sure that you’re safe. As Angela Colley noted on Realtor.com, “When you are apartment hunting, look for rentals with added security features like: gated complexes, exterior security doors, deadbolt locks, interior door chains, alarm systems.” With some of these safety measures in place, you’ll feel (and actually be) even more secure.
3. Resist The Urge To Be A Total Slob
If you’re an organizational goddess, then you may be looking forward to maintaining a spotlessly clean apartment. If not? Well, things can quickly get out of control. By all means, enjoy being your truest, slobbiest self (I sure did when I lived alone, and it was the best). But do remember to pull out the vacuum cleaner every now and again. A clean apartment feels so incredibly grown up, and you’ll be happy to come home to it. I promise, it’s worth the effort.
4. Practice Relying On Yourself
If you aren’t used to spending time alone, living by yourself can get a bit maddening. “With no roommate to go home to and blow off steam with after you’ve had a bad day, it’s imperative that you actually like yourself and develop healthy coping mechanisms when you’re sad,” said Ryan O’Connell on ThoughtCatalog.com. It may feel tricky at first, but it will get easier. Plus, this sort of self-reliance is a good life skill to have, so you might as well work on it now.
5. But Remind Yourself To Go Out
It can be easy to get all comfy in your solitude, and never go outside again. But whatever you do, don’t fall into this lifestyle. As Lucy Maher said on Refinery29.com, “Avoid feeling like a shut-in by being somewhat structured — and committed — about getting out or hosting guests. That might mean signing up for twice-weekly Pilates classes or volunteering after work on Wednesdays.” Figure out what will occasionally get you out of the house, and stick to it.
6. Be Nice To Your Neighbors
Being nice to your neighbors is super important for safety — they can look out for you, or check on your apartment while you travel — as well as for your sanity. So head outside every now and again, and be sure to get people’s names and phone numbers when possible. “If you have a community pool, visit on the weekend when people are likely to be out. If you have a dog, take walks around the neighborhood and introduce yourself to the other pet owners. Before long, you will know everyone in the neighborhood and feel right at home,” Colley said.
7. Have Some Emergency Numbers On Hand
You don’t want to be looking for the plumber’s number as your toilet overflows, or rummaging through your contact list once the electricity has gone out. Simply keep an emergency contact list nearby, suggested Maher. That way, you can save yourself the stress, and assure problems get solved ASAP.
8. Go Nuts With Decorating
Decorating is one of the most exciting things about getting your own place. And it’s even more exciting when you get to call 100 percent of the design shots. So start dreaming about your ideal decor, and planning how you’ll want to decorate each room, Colley suggested. It can really make the experience of living alone that much more awesome.
9. Learn Some Handy Skills
Sure, you can call your mom in a panic about a leaky sink, or demand that your handy friend come over to set up your Playstation. But living alone may also be the perfect opportunity to learn to do these things yourself. Give it a try, and then revel in your self-reliance.
10. Remember To Grocery Shop For One
If you’re used to living with lots of people, then you may have gotten used to huge grocery shopping hauls — giant boxes of cereal, pounds of apples, huge bags of spinach. But when you live alone, large amounts of food usually ends up going bad, since it’s impossible to eat it all on your own. So start modifying your shopping list, buying less, and keeping non-perishable staples on hand, Maher suggested. That way, you’ll always have something to eat, but nothing will go to waste.
11. Stick To A Budget
This is a big one, since you’ll be paying for rent, electricity, and groceries all on your own. The best thing to do is to start off early with a budget. Like, before you even move in. As Colley said, “Browse rental ads to get a feel for average rent prices, research utility and food costs in your area, and compare those expenses to your income. Once you have a budget set up, you will know how much rent and household costs you can afford and you won’t have to stress it later.”
12. Let People Into Your Dwelling
Again, the urge to be super anti-social will be strong. Fight it off by inviting people over all the time. “The cool thing about living alone is that everyone will want to come over to your house to hang out since there are no pesky roommates lurking around,” O’Connell said. Take advantage of this, and enjoy.
13. Revel In The Glory That Is Your Privacy
Most of us eventually end up moving in with a room mate or partner, so milk this private time for all it’s worth. Walk around without pants, leave your cereal bowls on the table for days, and enjoy the peace and quiet.
Because that’s what living by yourself is all about — learning to hang out by yourself, and finding that good balance between enjoying yourself, and also successfully running an apartment. Once you get the hang of it, I promise you’ll love the experience.
Images: Pexels (14)
Adjusting To Living Alone After A Breakup
Living alone after a breakup may be the tonic you need to get you back on your own feet, start feeling better and mending your broken heart.
Regardless of how long a relationship, when one comes to an end it can be a very difficult time, especially when the breakup wasn’t expected or on your terms. It can be particularly hard if you were living together. Adjusting to living alone after a breakup and being partnered with someone you loved and planned a future with, can be exceptionally challenging.
A major part of breakup recovery is to find a way of being on your own and learning to live with your own company. If you weren’t expecting to break up and the whole turn of events has taken you by surprise, it may take some considerable time to be at peace in your own surroundings.
Why being alone can be the best medicine for a broken heart
Being alone after a breakup can empower you to feel better about yourself – and given time, bitter feelings about your past relationship can dissipate.
Newly single people can embrace their alone time and use it positively as their medicine or healing time while on the road to recovery.
Let’s face it, straight after a breakup, why on earth would you want to immediately jump into a new relationship and start worrying about a new partner? Starting a new relationship so soon after a breakup can be seriously hard work!
There will be yet another adjustment period to go through where you may discover new relationship problems that need fixing – annoying habits getting under your skin and new routines to learn etc. – err, no thanks!
Grab that me-time and make good use of it
Why not give yourself a break and allow yourself some time to rediscover what is important to you. Take time to only worry about yourself and mend your broken heart by filling it with things that you like, rather than what someone else likes.
I know one friend who after a breakup who did just this and made time to put herself first. She realised she didn’t have her own favourite type of coffee because for the past few years she had simply drunk the coffee her ex-partner liked.
When you living alone after a breakup, there is so much left for you to learn about yourself. You can allow yourself to do this without constantly having to worry about someone else’s needs and demands. You can move forward with life knowing you will only need to satisfy yourself, first and foremost.
Don’t you think you owe it to yourself to become as strong as you can be on your own two feet?
Look ahead, a couple of years down the line when you will be completely over this relationship and the person who broke your heart. You will be so proud of the achievement of allowing yourself time alone to be by yourself, without having anyone else filling up your space.
Do not for one minute feel you are alone while dealing with your breakup. You should feel confident about your ability to make yourself whole again and having the strength to move on to better things.
Remember, you don’t need someone else around to mend your broken heart. You have the ability to fix it by yourself. Just give yourself some time and enough breathing space and allow it to happen. Your perseverance will definitely pay off.
It is possible for you to get through this time and there are ways you can be kinder to yourself and ease into single life. Here are a few considerations to help you transition into living alone after a break up:
LIVING ALONE AFTER A BREAKUP
1 Allow time to wallow
If someone has been part of your life for a long time it is hard to imagine your life without them in it. Grieving for the end of a relationship is completely natural and you should give yourself time to do this in the comfort of your home.
The shock and sadness you are feeling are to be expected and getting through and past this raw stage is important before making any big decisions.
It is also an important stage in accepting what has happened with many people believing they can win their other half back at this point. But, in reality, it’s unlikely to be for the right reasons for most. Using the time to pass through feelings of anger and sorrow will aid the mourning of the relationship’s demise. Accepting a relationship is over is key to making progress and moving on.
Give yourself plenty of self-care during this phase. You need to take care of yourself, so make sure you get plenty of sleep, eat well and get outdoors regularly for some exercise and sunlight.
2 Keep busy
Keeping your mind occupied and active can help you keep your thoughts away from what your ex is doing or ponderous ideas about getting back together. Being active is a good way to pass the time and get used to being on your own.
Make plans with friends and family, take up a new hobby, read or work out – do anything you know will provide a distraction from the past.
Distract your thoughts with some positive music. Listening to music has been linked to changes in the way our brains process thoughts and emotions. Listening to the right music can distract us from negative thoughts and make us far more productive.
Studies from the University of Birmingham, show music is very effective in raising our efficiency, especially when performing repetitive work. So when you are at work checking emails or crunching numbers, and your mind wanders back to your breakup, adding some distracting music will keep you focussed and make your tasks pass by quicker.
Playing music that you have no particular strong feeling for, or listening to an easy listening radio station, has been found to work on helping us process unconscious thoughts and emotions.
3 Be practical
If you were living together then there are certain practicalities that may be essential to moving on. Dividing up assets, arranging to sell a property or dividing finances and making arrangements for any children or pets in the relationship may all be issues in need of addressing.
Try to remain calm and focused on the objective as becoming emotional may hinder any developments you’ve made. When the time is right and if it feels necessary, seek legal advice, especially if things aren’t amicable between you and your ex.
4 Be comfortable with yourself
Some people jump into another relationship just so they aren’t on their own. It is important to be happy in your own skin and so getting to know yourself again is essential.
Spend some time considering what you want to achieve and what you would enjoy doing on your own. Set yourself some goals – even short term goals, to begin with, helping you get you through the immediate and first few months. Think realistically about how you might achieve them.
Some things may be easier than others like starting a new class or travelling to a different country. Re-evaluating the direction you want your life to go in could help you to be more comfortable with a future on your own.
5 Feel lonely
Living alone after a breakup means feelings of loneliness are completely natural and valid. With some self-reflection try and understand your feelings and again, allow yourself the time and space to process difficult emotions. Those feelings may come after the initial break up and can completely catch you off guard after a period of feeling okay. Practising meditation and mindfulness may also help.
It could take a while to accept things have changed and at first, there may be a lot of day to day activities that need to be sorted out – like moving somewhere new for example.
Once things have died down loneliness may set in, so stay busy making plans and keep in touch with people who can help you. Being alone is still positive though – it enables you to be calm and reset your mind and body for all the good things to come.
6 Stay single
It may be tempting to put yourself back on the dating market but in the early days, it is likely to be for all the wrong reasons.
Getting back at your ex and stopping yourself feeling lonely could be key drivers for hooking up with a new partner. However, it isn’t for someone else to fix you and make you happy.
You need to be happy with yourself first and foremost and that won’t happen overnight. Taking time to live independently and focus on a new start, however hard it may be, is the best way to getting back on track.
7 Love yourself
Unwantingly being at the end of a relationship break up is really hard and it is undoubtedly easy to blame yourself. Recognising you aren’t at fault, that it always takes two to tango in a relationship and learning to love yourself should be a firm priority when adjusting to life alone.
Self-care and self-preservation are now what matters the most. It may have been many years since you only thought of yourself so take the time now to really focus and take care of yourself and your future.
Spending time alone after a breakup can be a great way to get to know yourself, giving you the much-needed space to establish your next steps while making you, your well-being and your future a priority.
So, don’t feel bad about putting yourself first when you are going through the difficult time of a breakup. It will take time to reconcile your feelings and move on, but living alone provides a valuable opportunity to figure everything out on your own terms.
8 Listen to sad songs
Listening to sad songs can actually make us feel happier! Following a breakup, you may dread a favourite tune playing on the radio that reminds you of your ex and brings painful memories flooding back.
However, listening to sad songs can actually help you heal because it can regulate negative emotion and moods as well as bring on feelings of consolation. So playing sad songs and allowing yourself a good cry can bring you some relief.
You can, in fact, make yourself feel better for feeling worse! According to Taruffi & Koelsch, a Berlin-based research team, they found listening to typically sad music was correlated to positive feelings of happiness, calmness and peace.
Their research team asked 772 participants across the world to describe the songs they liked to listen to following the break-up of a relationship. They said in an interview with The Huffington Post: “The most frequent emotion evoked was nostalgia, which is a bittersweet emotion – it’s more complex and it’s partly positive. This helps explain why sad music is appealing and pleasurable for people.”
9 Reconnect with nature
Getting outside regularly for some fresh air, sunshine and looking at greenery can give your flagging emotions a much-needed health boost.
Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute discovered that reconnecting with nature or adding a natural element to your life could help boost mood and improve focus.
Listening to the sounds of nature such as birdsong, the wind in the trees and babbling water can be as effective as using white noise to mask intelligible speech and switch off the nagging voice in your head.
The sounds and benefits of being around nature can also enhance cognitive functioning, improve your ability to concentrate, and increase your feelings of happiness, well-being and contentedness.
If you find it difficult to escape to more natural surroundings, then you could try listening to recordings of nature sounds easily found on most music download services.
10 Find yourself
While in a relationship there is every chance of losing a piece of yourself. Everyone makes some personal sacrifices to make a relationship work, so being single following a breakup will allow you to rediscover all those lost parts of yourself – it can actually be quite good fun!
You can look at this as a distinct advantage of being single and living alone. Think about what you gave up to be in your relationship. Now is your chance to lovingly gift these things back to yourself.
Maybe you gave up a treasured hobby or having a long soak in a bubble bath while reading the latest blockbuster chick-lit book until your skin became pruned because your partner didn’t like sitting alone while watching TV.
Did you stop going to your favourite wine bar with friends after work because your ex was teetotal and didn’t like the smell of alcohol on your breath? Or maybe you gave up your social life for your relationship.
Did you switch from cooking with garlic and spices because your ex didn’t like spicy food? Or give up going abroad for your holidays because your partner couldn’t stand the heat?
There are so many personal things making you unique and special. You just need to give yourself the chance to find them once again and get those happy feelings back.
It may be being in a relationship denied you the chance to discover new things about yourself. Now is your opportunity to find new things to enjoy or to answer those questions that kept popping into your mind, but in the past, you were unable to take action to answer them.
After a breakup, living alone is time for you to rediscover yourself. It will be good for you to slowly develop a mindful view of life so your mind can stay calm and at peace with the world and people around you.
No matter what life throws at you, being centred, mindful and contented while listening to your thoughts and taking your own guidance over matters that directly affect you, will help you to understand what makes YOU happy.
7 Tips for Living Alone for the First Time
With young adults putting off marriage to check off other things on their lifetime to-do list, living alone is becoming more and more attractive. Some people feel ready to stop living at home or with roommates, but not ready to move in with a significant other.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
In fact, U.S. Census data shows that 32.7 million people are living alone, which accounts for 28 percent of households in the U.S. This suggests our generation is relying less and less on the economic stability living with others—parents, a romantic partner or roommates—used to provide.
For some, living alone is an exciting opportunity to find themselves and experience immense personal growth. For others, it’s a terrifying and lonely first step into adulthood.
However you’re feeling about living alone for the first time, here are seven tips to make it a smoother transition.
1. Give yourself time to adjust
Allowing yourself time to adjust to your new living situation is its own process. You’ll discover a new level of independence and responsibility and truly learn how to be comfortable on your own.
Often we seek instant gratification from making big changes in our lives. Living alone, like everything else, is a process and requires time to adjust to. Ask your family and friends for help when you need it, but recognize you can figure things out on your own, too. This is a huge opportunity and time for self-discovery.
If loneliness starts to creep in, try new hobbies (cooking, handiwork, DIY decorating, etc.). If you start to feel anxious or overwhelmed, try some meditation apps.
2. Stay secure
A key factor in living alone is making sure you are safe and secure wherever you are living. Whether or not you feel unsafe living alone, being aware of your surroundings and taking necessary precautions is a must.
Investing in home security is essential. But even with the best home security system, being aware of what’s going on in your neighborhood can do even more to keep you and your home safe.
3. Meet your neighbors
It may feel intimidating, but taking the time to develop relationships with those around you is as important in your community as it is in your personal life. It’s also a great opportunity for you to make connections that you otherwise wouldn’t outside of work and your circle of friends.
Source: Pew Research Center
This is especially true for certain communities. In “Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone,” author Erick Klinenberg touches on the key reasons young adults seek out a place of their own, and how it’s a symbol of adulthood for many.
Klinenberg told Smithsonian.com that “there are neighborhoods in cities throughout the country where single people go to live alone, together, if that makes sense. They can be together living alone. That helps to make being single a much more collective experience.”
If you’re living alone in a new place, making these connections can help keep you safe and cut down on feelings of isolation.
4. Find your feng shui
One of the most exciting things about living alone is the opportunity to decorate your space however you want! When living with others, interior decorating is often a compromise. Living alone allows you to make your vision a reality. You can finally make your home into that “dream room” Pinterest board you created when you were 15.
5. Keep clean
It can be easy to let your living space go when you’re not constantly reminded or pressured to clean up after yourself. Your momma doesn’t live there, so make sure you clean up after yourself (especially when she visits).
Keeping your space clean not only looks good, it creates an environment that you actually want to spend time in. Not doing your dishes may seem liberating at first, but it quickly turns into avoiding your kitchen and having nowhere to try out those new cooking skills you’ve acquired.
6. Embrace it
Embrace the freedom that living alone for the first time offers. Alone time offers numerous benefits, including increased productivity and creativity.
But don’t fret if you aren’t instantly flooded with the creativity and inspiration you thought you’d be by being on your own. Embrace all the successes and failures this new chapter of your life will entail. You can do anything, including (but not limited to) walking around in your birthday suit.
7. Get out
As comforting as your new secluded sanctuary might be, don’t forget to get out every so often.
Take advantage of opportunities in your community to get out of your comfort zone. It’s easy to lay in bed all day and binge-watch the latest Netflix series, but getting out and doing things solo is another great way to embrace and adjust to living solo.
Besides, with nobody else at home to answer to, you can spend as much time out and about as you’d like.
“Living alone is not an entirely solitary experience,” Klinenberg said to Smithsonian.com. “It’s generally a quite social one.”
By Allie Shaw
Allie Shaw graduated from the University of Utah with degrees in communications and public relations. She is an expert in all things technology and lifestyle. She is a freelance writer for multiple publications and spends most of (all of) her free time shamelessly approaching strangers who have goldendoodles.
Quite a number of individuals love the feeling of living alone without distractions from other people. Most will simply come back from work before spending the remainder of the day at home having no one to interact with. However, living alone can at times have numerous health effects to an individual. For instance, one may end up suffering from depression or anxiety simply because they are not surrounded or distracted by other people.
However, this does not necessarily have to be the case since there are many ways in which you can stay happy when living alone. To help you out, here are some of the things that you can do if you are to avoid suffering from depression, anxiety and stress when living alone.
Perform Home Chores
One of the ways in which you can keep yourself busy while living alone is doing all the home chores whenever you get back from work. Even though you may be tired after a long day at work, you can still set aside some time to do the dishes, wash the house or your clothes. Doing this on a regular basis will play a key role when it comes to dealing with stress, depression and anxiety that emanates from living alone. This is because going through your to-do-list gives you a feeling of total control, rather than make you feel lonely.
Get a Pet
It is with no doubt that getting a pet can go a long way in keeping you occupied when living alone. This does not necessarily mean that you should go for a dog or a cat as your pet. You can try going with something else like keeping a bird be it a parrot or any other type of bird that you may find appealing. However, you should remember to make a good cage for the pet if you are to avoid going back home only to find things in poor condition. To come up with a good cage, you can consider going with a stainless steel wire mesh as it is known to make the perfect bird cages.
Avoid Social Media
At times social media may be the reason behind your increased stress levels. This is because it will make you feel as if you are living a very different life from other people. Actually, seeing other people posting their photos on social media can make you feel bored simply because they are having a good time. Therefore, you should reduce the time spent on social media when living alone if you are to avoid feeling less contented.
Consider Getting a Housemate
If you can no longer find happiness when living alone, then you can decide to get a housemate. This is a good step to take when you want companionship but not ready to get into a relationship. However, to get a good person to live with, you should consider asking prospective housemates important questions in relation to cleanliness, privacy, drug use, daily activities to mention a few. With answers, you will be able to determine how both of you can stay together happily.
Plan your funeral
Your funeral arrangement may seem somewhat satisfactory, but doing so allows you to put yourself in the way you want. In addition, it will prevent your family from making difficult decisions. Do you want to bury or burn? Where do you want to be placed for rest? Would you like to have a great Top 10 Funeral Plans? Figure out these details before your retirement? Have a conversation with your family about how you want to spend your retirement years. You’ll also have peace of mind knowing your family is there to support you until the end.
People who live alone have a great chance of suffering from depression as opposed to those who have a companion. However, living alone does not necessarily mean that you should suffer from depression, anxiety or stress. Instead, it should give you the reason to keep on enjoying life while you still interact with other people. Consider relying on the above tips and see how your life will change for the better.
Does Living Alone Have a Negative Influence on Psychological Well-Being?
A growing share of the adult population in the United States lives alone. In some cities, such as New York, nearly 5 out of every 10 households are occupied by a single person. Some have suggested that the increasing number of people living alone signals a broader change in American society, whereby individuals are less socially connected and engaged with others in the community. In his article titled “Bowling Alone,” Robert Putnam argues that civic engagement, which includes church attendance and participation in community organizations, has declined over the past three decades. Demographic trends such as falling fertility rates and decreasing family size are also likely to play a role.
Regardless of the causes, this trend raises an interesting question: In what ways does living alone affect our psychological well-being? This post explores how living alone is linked with the experience of different emotions, including anger, loneliness, and depression.
Results from population studies suggest that adults who live alone feel angry far less often than people who live with others. One advantage of living alone is that there are fewer opportunities to fight or argue with someone. Living with a person who is critical or demanding raises the likelihood of facing negative interactions, which represent the negative side of social exchanges. Negative interactions include spending time with someone who gets on your nerves or is irritating to you, or a person who places to many demands on you. Some psychologists have found that the absence of negative interactions is more protective against the experience of negative affect than the presence of supportive social relationships.
People who live alone tend to report more frequent feelings of loneliness relative to those in other living arrangements. Although living alone might lower one’s chances of getting into an argument, it can also be an obstacle to connect and interact with others-and to form meaningful, intimate relationships.
This can be more of an issue for certain groups of people. For instance, those with physical limitations like arthritis or stroke might have difficulty going through the necessary motions to leave the house to meet friends or family, or to participate in other groups or activities outside the household.
Also, the more time one spends alone, the more likely one is to feel lonely. One of the main reasons for any negative influence of living alone on psychological well-being is that people who live alone tend to spend a greater amount of time by themselves. Spending time with other people might increase the likelihood of negative interactions, but it’s also crucial in preventing loneliness by promoting our sense of social support.
The influence of living alone on feelings of depression is less clear. A few studies have shown that older adults who live alone, especially men, are more likely to report feeling depressed than those who live with a spouse or other family members. Also, the recently widowed who might be living alone for the first time in several years are at greater risk of depression than those who have lived alone for a longer period of time.
In conclusion, the extent to which living alone impacts psychological well-being seems to be dependent upon individual characteristics (e.g. age, gender, health status) as well characteristics of our social lives (e.g. time spent alone, participation in social activities outside the household, the presence or absence of supportive relationships).
Most of last year I was sad. There were lots of moments I felt myself trying to talk through the feeling with friends with the hope that I could rationalize it until it went away. But it just wasn’t going away. And all the while, I was resisting my sadness BIG time.The irony was that I wasn’t even really feeling it.
Then I read a book by Osho and something he said really struck me. He explained that most of society is built around not wanting you to feel extremes of emotions. The people around you just want you to be OK, and what “OK” actually means is that you are mostly numb, neutral, disengaged with extreme feelings.
It was then that I realized that I was existing in that space. And ironically, I ended up having to deal with extreme discomfort in my attempt to resist sadness. Instead, I was trapped in a cycle of denial, numbness and dissatisfaction.
Of course, when sadness, disappointment, and loneliness set in, the feelings are deeply uncomfortable. But what if we just invited them in, and allowed them to sit tight for a second?
Rather than allowing our brains to go into that state of overdrive, trying to figure out how to get you out of this state, we’d simply feel the pure feelings themselves. Consider that!
Part of the issue is that our culture conditions us to avoid fully confronting, and owning, our feelings. When you talk to friends and tell them you are feeling down, they will say things like, “Everything is going to be OK. You just need to get out of the house — you’re thinking too much.”
And often if you are super-duper happy, there will be people that say, “Don’t jinx it!” Or you may find yourself feeling guilty for being too happy around other people who may be less satisfied with their lives.
In both of these cases, notice how we aren’t given permission to just feel, and to do so deeply?
Well, it’s time to change that paradigm, and it begins with a choice — your choice to start honoring your feelings.
The other day, I was on the phone with my mom. I called her because I was feeling incredibly sad and I couldn’t explain why. In response, my mom consoled me, “You are probably just stressed about something. It’s going to be OK.” I could feel her love, and her desire for me to simply feel better.
But I told her that I didn’t want to just feel better. I wanted to feel my sadness, and to feel what my sadness was trying to tell meto feel what my sadness was trying to tell me. “I just wanted to tell you that I was down,” I told her, “But I don’t want to fix it.”
And you know what? I’ve learned that that is best way for me to ask for the support to feel, and just let it all be. She totally understood.
So much can shift when we finally let ourselves feel the discomfort. Today, I invite you to give yourself permission to be sad, upset, lonely, down, whatever it is. At the same time, I want to give you permission to be happy and shout it from the rooftops. I want you to rock all of it.
As with everything, the lessons I am sharing with you here are things that I too am going through and have learned for myself.
Now that I have let myself feel my sadness, I am also feeling super happy and excited about what’s to come next. Trust that if you are feeling sad right now, you will get there, too. Emotions come in cycles, like everything in nature.
Your assignment this week is to express a feeling you are having right now in the comments on the blog. I will be reading each one.
Kavita is offering a free gift for MBG readers: Take the 4 Love Types Quiz so you can better understand the deeper, subconscious reasons that we block ourselves from having the kind of relationships we truly deserve.
How To Deal With Loneliness When Living Alone, According To Experts
Feeling lonely is a bummer pure and simple, but it truly happens to everyone — especially as you get older, when you might find yourself living alone in your own apartment for the first time. Figuring out how to deal with loneliness when living alone is definitely a challenge, but it’s not totally impossible. It all starts with recognizing that, even though you may feel super lonely a lot of the time, you really are never alone.
Every (wo)man is an island, as the saying goes, but even so, feeling connected to people is essential for your well-being. In Britain, for example, loneliness has actually been recognized as a pretty significant health concern, and the nation has even appointed its first ever minister of loneliness to address the issue, The New York Times reports. British Prime Minister Theresa May said in a statement,
For far too many people, loneliness is the sad reality of modern life. I want to confront this challenge for our society and for all of us to take action to address the loneliness endured by the elderly, by carers, by those who have lost loved ones — people who have no one to talk to or share their thoughts and experiences with.
Now, just to be clear, being alone isn’t the same thing as feeling lonely. Spending time with yourself can be great, but if you’re feeling particularly isolated and blue while living alone, consider some of these expert-recommended suggestions to help you feel more comfortable, and keep those lonely vibes to a minimum.
1. Invite Some People Over
“Living alone doesn’t mean you have to be alone all the time,” David Bennett, a certified counselor and life coach, tells Elite Daily. “You’d be surprised how many other people feel lonely. That’s why it’s important to take the initiative to invite people over.”
Even if there’s not really a special occasion, Bennett suggests throwing a party just for the heck of it. Invite friends over to play video games, watch a movie, and simply enjoy one another’s company.
“There are hundreds of reasons to have people over, so find them and use them!” says Bennett.
2. Remember To Get Out Of The House Every Now And Then
Sometimes, feeling really lonely can cause you to sort of shut down, and do nothing but watch a thousand episodes of Riverdale. There’s certainly nothing wrong with the occasional Netflix mega-marathon, but when loneliness becomes a constant struggle, Bennett says it’s best to get yourself out of the house and be around other people.
“If you spend too much time alone in an apartment, you can start to feel isolated and trapped,” Bennett tells Elite Daily. “Instead, get out among people. Go to a coffee shop to get your work done. Choose a night of walking around a park over watching your favorite show.”
Being around people, even people you don’t know, really can be enough to make you feel better, says Bennett.
3. Reach Out To The Friends Who Need You
Have a friend who’s going through a rough patch? Dr. Bradley Nelson, a holistic physician, international lecturer, and author of the book The Emotion Code, says reaching out to someone else who’s going through a tough time can help you get out of your own head.
“One of the best ways to overcome loneliness and isolation is to move outside yourself and take action to help others,” Dr. Nelson tells Elite Daily. “That takes the focus away from you and enables you to turn that lens around so it is not pointed at you and all your trouble; instead, it is pointed at somebody else who needs you.”
4. Remember That Social Media Isn’t The Solution
According to Merle Yost, a licensed marriage and family therapist, it’s crucial to actually see your friends face-to-face, rather than just text them or connect through social media.
“Facebook and Instagram are not enough,” Yost tells Elite Daily. “You need to talk to people. Meet them for exercise, catching up, a movie, something with in-person contact with others.”
Social media can be great, but you have to admit, it’s just different when you can actually hug and laugh with a person you love, you know?
5. Go Out To Eat — Even If You’re Alone
“A key to combating loneliness is to find two or three places to eat, where you go often,” Yost tells Elite Daily. “You get to know the staff, you ask their names, they know your name, they know what you like to eat.”
Even if you’re dining solo, a good book always makes for a solid companion, and like Yost says, when you find that one cafe you love and keep coming back to, you’re bound to start recognizing a few familiar faces, and soon, you’ll build plenty of new connections.
6. Know That It’s OK To Reach Out For Professional Help
Loneliness can sometimes be a deeper issue that won’t be easily solved by a gals’ night, and that’s totally OK. Dr. Ryan Hooper, a Chicago-based clinical psychologist, says many of his clients who struggle with loneliness often have a hard time pushing themselves to connect with others.
“They experience some form of social anxiety that holds them back from asking that friend to go out for coffee, or going to that art gallery that their friend was asking them to attend,” Dr. Hooper tells Elite Daily.
Together, Dr. Hooper and his clients make a plan and take steps to eliminate that fear and resistance: “By setting their own expectations on a week-by-week basis,” he explains, ” often find it’s easier to challenge themselves to get off the sofa and into the world.”
So, if you need a mental health professional to help you through your loneliness, remember there’s no shame in reaching out for help. You deserve to be happy, and there are so many people who can help you get there.
When Amy Crumbaugh decided to leave her hometown of Bloomington, Indiana, to enroll in a BFA program in Chicago in 2012, she thought it would be best to live alone.
“I was older than most of my classmates and roommates, and I desperately needed my own place,” she says. “I wasn’t existing at the hyper-speed of someone in their early 20s, and I view home as a safe space. I decorate and cook, and most of my roommates were happy to just have a sofa and a Hot Pocket at three in the morning.”
Amy got her own apartment inside a high-rise in the city’s South Loop, steps from Michigan Avenue. In the beginning, she describes this setup—which was complete with a big closet and an in-unit washer and dryer—as a sort of Carrie Bradshaw fever dream.
“I could go to sleep with a clean kitchen and know that I would wake up with a clean kitchen; I could walk around naked and take long, undisturbed naps on the couch,” she remembers. “I never had to worry about someone else imposing their lifestyle on my sacred space.”
But then the loneliness moved in.
Lonely is an adjective with a sting, a word that’s often said in a hushed voice or not at all. And yet, it’s a feeling that Americans are experiencing on a widespread scale. In a much-publicized survey conducted by Cigna last year, nearly half of the country feels lonely, and younger generations—millennials and Generation Z—feel the loneliest of all. The culprits for these results have also been picked to the bone, with social media, screen-saturated interactions, and a lack of work-life balance being common sources of blame.
“People have always been lonely, but there is greater awareness of it today. What used to be private is now public, so people learn and talk about these issues much more than they did in the past,” says Dr. Kelly Campbell, professor of psychology at California State University, San Bernardino. “Another thing to keep in mind is that there are now more single households than ever before, and a key predictor of happiness and life satisfaction is social connection.”
The U.S. Census found that there are about 36 million single-person households throughout the country, comprising 28% of the population—a rise from 13% in 1960. For some, this statistic is an example of liberation. Men and women have used those intervening decades to rewrite the rules of midcentury adulthood, where degrees, travel, careers, and intermittent romantic relationships have created many paths to parallel the long-standing, cisgender road to marriage and children. In 2018, 29% of adults between 18 and 34 were married, whereas 59% of the same cohort were married in 1978.
But it’s also possible to see the struggle in these numbers too. How do you build the life you want when it means contending with what society expects of you? Like many millennials in the midst of this evolving cultural shift, Amy answered this question by creating the home she imagined—after all, she knew this was an opportunity her peers only dream about. She bought cozy throw pillows and an Urban Outfitters mug, finding the fun in things that reflected her personality.
As good as it was, there were bad times too. Amy soon discovered that it was work to schedule time to see friends, and meeting them meant commuting alone. So she passed on invitations, again and again. When she went out, the impersonal strangers crowding the streets mostly made her feel isolated rather than part of a community.
“I didn’t know what to expect from my 30s, but loneliness was never something that I considered,” she says. “I thought I’d be married and busy with whatever that entails. When you’re a kid, you never think of married people as lonely, right? Because there’s always the assumption that they must have each other. And I don’t want to imply that women need partners or children to feel content. I think it’s just been so deeply embedded into our mind-sets that even the most nontraditional among us have that lingering feeling of something being off.”
How People Who Live Alone Conquered Loneliness
“Single people aren’t to blame for the loneliness epidemic.” That’s the title of an article I wrote that was recently published in the Atlantic. Single people aren’t to blame for the supposed epidemic, I argued, and neither are the subset of single people who, intuitively, might seem most at risk for loneliness: those who live alone.
I’ve been working on this for a while. Last year, a whole raft of articles all over the media included arguments such as this one, which was the lead paragraph in a story at Business Insider:
“As more people opt to live alone, delay or forego marriage, and recede into their smartphones, rates of loneliness are skyrocketing in the United States, according to new research.”
The researcher most often cited is Julianne Holt-Lunstad. Type “loneliness, living alone, unmarried, Holt-Lunstad” into Google, as I just did, and you will get more than 210,000 results. In testimony the BYU professor gave to a Senate committee hearing on loneliness and social isolation, she pointed specifically to another big subset of single people, in addition to ones who live alone — those who have been single all their lives.
Living alone, living single, and living single longer (maybe even for life) are on the rise in many places all around the world. The trends are part of the ascendance of individualism. It is not just these individualistic practices that have been implicated in the loneliness blame game. So, too, have individualistic values, such as freedom and self-expression. The pursuit of “selfish autonomy,” claims Washington Post columnist Christine Emba, “demands no concern for the wants and needs of others, or for society as a whole.” Family bonds have been devalued, she argued: “And in the end, we’ve all been left terribly alone.”
I understand why people think that the loneliest people are probably those who are single, who have always been single, and who live alone, as well as those who value freedom and autonomy. But they are wrong. My debunking of these myths is so extensive that when I asked to write about this for the Atlantic, my pitch was nearly 2,000 words. (I know, it’s not supposed to be. I included a shorter version, too.) The editors said yes, but only to a short article. You can read just that if all you are interested in is the brief version.
Here I want to elaborate on some of the points I made and add some of the other points I could not fit into a short article. I’ll focus mostly on people who live alone. My key argument is that we’ve been misled by the spotlight that has been shined on the desperately lonely solo dwellers, distracting us from what I believe to be the larger contingent of people living alone, the contented core.
When we look more closely at how most solo dwellers really are living their lives, we find that:
- Many are actually not physically isolated, even though they live alone.
- Most are not socially isolated, either — in fact, in important ways they are more connected with others than those who live with other people.
- Rather than devaluing family, people who live alone are redefining it in ways that are more expansive and more inclusive.
- Solitude may be more important to well-being in contemporary life than we have realized. People who live alone may have an edge in maintaining meaningful relationships with others, because of the time and space they have to themselves.
Many people who live alone are not physically isolated.
When you think about people who live alone, do you imagine them as physically isolated? Stories of old people who are all alone and have not seen anyone for days encourage that kind of thinking. Some really are isolated, alone, and lonely, and their pain should be taken seriously. But, as I learned when I went in person to people’s homes to see how they were living, many people who are living alone are not at all isolated. For example, two single women at opposite ends of a duplex each have a place of their own; they are close friends, and a cup of coffee or help with a task that requires a second set of hands is just steps away.
Other people who live in places of their own are in cohousing communities or other 21st-century versions of village life; when they walk outside their door, people who want to be neighborly are all around them. Some people who want a place of their own and community, too, move to apartment buildings where they already have family or friends. Many people who live alone are in cities, where opportunities for socializing abound. Even those solo dwellers, who really are physically isolated, still have ample opportunity to stay in touch with others. Advances in communication technology have made that routine.
Typically, people who live alone are not socially isolated.
As Eric Klinenberg pointed out in Going Solo, people who live alone participate in public events, civic groups, and informal activities more often than people who live with others. They also go to restaurants more often and take more art and music classes.
Single people are, in many important ways, more socially connected than married people. I’ve discussed that here at Living Single many times, and I did get to review some of the relevant research in my shorter article. So here, I will just underscore a few things.
First, when people such as Professor Holt-Lunstad express special concern about single people who have never been married, they have it exactly wrong. Those single people are even better at creating and maintaining ties with other people than are single people who were once married.
Second, as young people are staying single longer (or for life), they are not blowing off their family members. For example, today’s young adults are closer to their parents than their Boomer parents were to their parents.
Third, far from showing “no concern for the wants and needs of others,” single people are especially likely to be there for the people who need them. They help with the smaller tasks of everyday life, as well as the more daunting challenges of caring for people who are ill or disabled.
By getting involved in their communities, and tending to friends and neighbors and relatives, single people and solo dwellers are not devaluing family, but redefining it in bigger, broader terms. They are building bulwarks against loneliness.
People who value their freedom are not putting their well-being at risk.
If living alone or staying single can’t be blamed for loneliness in contemporary life, then what about the embrace of individualistic values? It is true, as Christine Emba suggested, that individualistic values are on the rise, and not just in Western nations. It is also true that people who are not married care about values such as freedom and creativity more than married people do. But that’s not making them miserable. In fact, a study of 31 nations showed that people who cared more about individualistic values were happier. And people who were not married got more happiness out of their individualistic values than people who were married.
Beyond social ties: Other ways that people dodge loneliness.
Because loneliness is about the gap between the interpersonal relationships we wish we had and the ones we actually do have, it makes sense that scholars have focused on the quantity and quality of our social ties. But it may also be worth considering the role of other kinds of factors that make life meaningful and engaging. For example, people who find their work absorbing may be less likely to feel lonely, even if they work from home, while they are all alone. Similarly, people who have passionate pursuits, whether athletic or creative or scientific or religious or in any other domain, may also have little room for loneliness in their lives. That may be true even if their pursuits are solitary ones, such as solo running or painting.
Maybe it is relevant that, on average, single people care more about having work that is meaningful than married people do. And in a study that compared lifelong single people to married people over a five-year period, the single people experienced more personal growth.
Solitude may be more important to us than we’ve realized.
Our preoccupation with loneliness has too often left us oblivious to an important truth: For those who love their own space, solo living can be profoundly fulfilling.
I’m a social psychologist, and the most fundamental insight from my field is the power of other humans. The mere presence of other people changes us. They get in our heads and under our skin, sometimes for better and other times for worse. They steal a sliver of our mental space. All alone in a place of our own, we get to think with our whole mind.
Solitude, scholars are learning, is good for creativity, contemplation, relaxation, rejuvenation, spirituality, and personal growth. As the demands of work jump the boundaries of 9-to-5, and bids for attention vibrate in our pockets, the lure of a space that is solely our own — even if it is not an entire home — is perhaps even more seductive than it has ever been before.
People who crave alone time have been caricatured as narrow-minded oddballs, but contemporary research shows that stereotype to be wrong. People who enjoy being alone have some positive personality characteristics. For example, they are less neurotic and more open and imaginative than those who don’t like spending time alone.
Valuing alone time is now commonplace. In a Pew study, 85 percent of Americans said it was important to have times when they were completely alone, and the same number said that it was important not to be disturbed at home. In another study, in which young adults (25 to 39 years old) described their main sources of enjoyment, having time to themselves ranked first.
Maybe we should not think of spending time alone and having satisfying relationships as two different things. Although I can’t point to any relevant research, my guess is that people who have time and space to themselves (such as those who live alone) may be better at fostering meaningful relationships with others because of it. Maybe taking the time to relax and recharge, alone, is not a threat to close relationships, but a boon to them.
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