2016 was by far the worst year in my life. The breakup resulted in being alienated from the society for a very long time, and even now, a year later, I barely have any real contact with people. I can’t say I can always deal with loneliness when it hits me, but I feel like I’ve worked out a way to increase my chances of going through it easily and without a real breakdown.
Prepare for it during the happiest times
And no, I don’t mean constant thinking that you might feel lonely one day – that would probably be depressing as hell. What I do, however, mean is making a list of things you’d like to do but not always have time for. During happy, jolly, busy days I often find myself thinking of a thousand things I’d like to do, projects I want to start, stuff I need to watch or read. While on the contrary, when loneliness strikes, all I feel is emptiness and I can’t even find a single thing to keep myself busy with.
And that’s where my love for making ‘to do’ lists comes in handy.
Whenever I’m busy and get an idea of something I’d totally do but can’t due to lack of time or other reasons, I try to write it down. Even if it’s a small, unimportant, silly thing that might seem not worth noting – while feeling lonely it’s hard to think even about such petty ideas, so you never know when the plan can turn out useful.
Here’s my general list of go to things for when I’m feeling down.
- Watching series. Something I usually don’t do – when I see 5 seasons of something, 12 episodes in each, I know for sure I won’t have enough time to actually watch the entire thing, so I don’t even start. However, a good timekiller is exactly what I need during dark times. I choose a series from my list that I’m most likely to enjoy and force myself to start watching. Even if I don’t feel particularly interested at the beginning, there’s still a chance of getting hooked on it later on. If that doesn’t happen, I just proceed to other points from the list.
- Playing (new) games. That one’s specifically for gamers. If you belong to that group, I’m pretty sure you often see an interesting game that you’d like to try out but then never really find time to do it. Just note the title with a brief description (so that you remember what game it is) on your list and then give it a go when in need of an absorbing activity.
- Simple baking. When feeling bad, you might not feel like eating or preparing a complex meal. What about baking a quick, simple snack though? I like to save short and easy recipes I come across and then try them out when bored. Thanks to their simplicity they’re almost guaranteed to turn out good, and if they contain chocolate they’re just bound to cheer you up. Alternatively, if your bad mood takes away your appetite, you’ll at least have a tasty snack for the next day!
- Self-development. Now that one surely requires motivation. If loneliness strikes you with adrenaline and a sprinkle of anger, it can be a perfect option for you. He left you? Whatever, you can research into your dream business opportunities and start a journey that will end up with stunning success in a few months. Others are having fun and you’re just sitting at home? Great, let’s use that time to improve our Spanish, we’ll then make tons of new friends while on holiday.
- Pamper evening. I try to have it at least once a week anyway, but often can’t get it to the fullest due to lack of time. Just prepare the bubbliest bath ever and use all the fancy beauty products, face masks, oils etc you never really have time to use.
- Cleaning, tidying, organising. I’m not, by any means, the tidiest person. More, I’d say I’m a loyal worshipper of the age-old rule saying that a real genius simply controls the chaos they’ve created. However, cleaning is my go to thing when I’m feeling down. Especially in a form of sorting out my wardrobe – if I take all my clothes out of it and put them on my bed, there’s no going back – I’ll have to actually go through them, or otherwise I won’t even be able to stay in bed mourning lost happiness.
- Working out. For me, there’s no better distractor from mental problems than physical activity. It can be hard to start (while feeling down it’s really tough to move your butt out of the comfy bed, especially with the intention to exercise), but it’s definitely rewarding on many levels.
- Online shopping. Shopping cheers you up – it’s an ancient wisdom repeated everywhere. Of course, the reality isn’t always that bright – you can’t get whatever you want to have every time you feel down without going bankrupt (or at least with my rate of getting loneliness strikes it would be disastrous). However, I like to treat myself with some really, really cheap purchases – whoever hasn’t yet discovered the beauty of aliexpress shopping, should definitely check it out. The amount of weird, funny, useless yet incredible things you can get for literally no money is astonishing. Recently my loneliness strike ended up with buying 5 pairs of earrings, 3 hairbands and 2 wall stickers (for a total price of under 2$ and free shipping). Sure, you have to take into account long delivery time, but it has its good sides too – you can be happy with your purchase twice, first time when you buy your amazing-looking bits and bobs nearly for free, and second time when you receive them, having completely forgotten the fact of ever buying them.
- Background sound. Whichever of the listed points I choose to do, I always – always! – do it with some background noise. Silence is an extremely strong loneliness multiplier for me, so it’s really important that I have something that imitates the real world around me. I usually play podcasts/talk shows/YouTube videos full of conversations. Even if I just keep them in the background and don’t actually listen to them, it gives me the feeling of other people being there with me. And even though it’s just an illusion, it really seems to help a bit. On the other hand, one thing I try to avoid is sad, depressing music. Although it might be exactly what your mind is longing for, in reality it’ll just intensify sadness. Definitely not worth it.
Having a list of ideas is helpful when it comes to finding something to put your hands (and mind) in, and the more absorbing the activity is, the better. The main issue about loneliness is constant thinking about other people having fun with their nearest and dearest while you’re just on your own, feeling down. So the less time you have for thinking, the better for you. With a pre-prepared list of ideas you don’t have to waste time trying to come up with something to do – just go through the points on it, quickly choose one, and once done with it (or bored) – immediately jump to the next one. It might be hard to force yourself to start doing something, but after a few minutes it usually gets easier and your mind gets at least a little bit occupied with the new activity. And that’s exactly what we’re aiming for!