Hello everyone. Welcome back to my Reflection Thursdays post in which I am reflecting on happiness, wellness, peace of mind and being your best self. I hope you like it.
It seems counterintuitive that a busy mom of 5 young kids could feel lonely. Yet I have to admit that sometimes I do. At times, too much time passes in my daily and weekly life without the opportunity to have meaningful connections and conversations with people I love and trust, and that can feel isolating. Or I miss family members and friends who live far away.
Being the practical type, I thought it might be helpful to list the things that have helped me combat loneliness. As a caveat, I know many people are struggling in difficult personal situations that call for professional help, so keep in mind that I am not qualified to offer that.
With that being said, here are some tips on how to overcome loneliness:
1) Meet an old friend and do something fun. Old friendships need new experiences, new things to connect over. Find something positive and interesting like an exhibit, a movie, or try a new restaurant with an old friend. It will help keep your friendship alive and help you reconnect again lest your lives have taken different paths. In this post you’ll find some pretty pictures I took today after seeing an exhibit and having lunch with one of my best old friends. Seeing someone you love, laughing and learning will undoubtedly made you feel less lonely, my friends!
2) Take a walk. Leave your phone at home and take a walk. Remind yourself to look at everything you can that is beautiful: trees, the sky, someone’s garden, the river or a lake. Just soak it all in and breathe. It was once said that walking is God’s activity. The fresh air and exercise will do you good. The walk also will help you feel connected to the outside world.
3) Read the paper. Staying current with what’s happening in the world is a great way to feel more connected to others. This also gives you something to talk about with old friends or your spouse that is NOT your kids. A dose of healthy perspective that a lot of people out there are struggling is not the worst thing either.
4) Start calling people. This might sound manic, but literally dive into your contacts and start calling people you care about, even if you’ve lost touch with them. If you’re super busy, try for one person a day or one a week even. Don’t wait for that “free time” you’ll never have. Instead, call on your way to pick up your kid, on your way to the grocery store, or on your way into work. Build short calls with loved ones into your hectic schedule and you’ll feel less lonely. Leading to my next idea …
5) Make plans and be flexible about them. Once you have people you know and love on the phone, make plans. Now listen parents, everyone is busy, everyone is overwhelmed, and few people have much free time. If you want to keep seeing old friends and keep making new ones, you have to BEND. Drive to a friend’s neighborhood or meet them at a less than ideal time. Oh, and if anyone you like makes a overture regarding getting together and you think the person has friendship potential, figure it out and just make it work. In today’s frenetic world, an invite like that means a lot.
6) Be friendly. New York City can be an unfriendly place. My kids sometimes tell me it’s weird that I chat with everyone. But I love small talk, even with strangers, and interacting with people, and it makes me feel more connected. So if that’s your cup of tea, smile, make eye contact, and have small, polite conversations. A few of these little chats per day can lift your spirits and change your whole day. I also love focusing on tourists. New York City is full of them and I don’t want them going home saying New Yorkers are mean. So if one asks me for directions or help or advice, I try to take the time and tell them to enjoy their trip to New York!
7) Along with the be friendly theme, go out of your way to be nice. Hold the door for people, give your seat up to the elderly, tip generously, give others the priority in line, and in general try to create a happy daily experience for yourself. Rather than filling your brain with unpleasant, frustrating experiences, this approach will keep you calm and ready for the next great conversation (in which you won’t be bemoaning something annoying that just happened).
8) Stay positive. Don’t let yourself sink into the mindset that you have nothing in common with another person around you. There have got to be some folks in your world with whom you can become good friends. Keep at it. Don’t focus or talk about people you don’t like, talk about the ones you do like. Also, cut your losses and move on: if you’re stuck in a conversation with fellow parents and sparks aren’t flying, politely excuse yourself and find someone else to talk to. Time is precious and a potential friend could be waiting in the wings.
9) Get off Facebook. Facebook is a killer for anyone feeling lonely. There you are feeling like you never talk to anyone and coming your way are zillions of photos of happy couples and families smiling on their vacations. I know I fall into this too, but recognize FB for what it is: snapshots of a certain part of people’s lives, NOT the whole messy, complicated picture. Facebook is like one continuous holiday photo. The other issue with Facebook is that it sucks us in, precluding us from reading more interesting and satisfying things that will make us feel connected to the world. Since Facebook draws me in, I try to look at the clock and say “ok, in 10 minutes, I’m off.”
10) Read to your kids. Parenting can be a very lonely experience when you are not on the same page as your kids or they are testing your patience. The best solution to this I’ve found is to do something with my kids that unites us and doesn’t ask me to do any disciplining nor to answer repeat requests that wear me down. When I have a child in my lap and we are enjoying a book together, loneliness is kept at bay. If you’re super busy, just take 10 minutes and read one or two books. Your whole mood will change.
If you get lonely sometimes and have tips on overcoming this, I so much would appreciate your tips on what has worked for you.
Thanks for reading.