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10 Things That Healed My Loneliness — from Someone Who Hated Being Lonely

10 Things That Healed My Loneliness — from Someone Who Hated Being Lonely

Being alone is not the same as being lonely

Being alone is a state of being by oneself without others around. It can actually be a healthy phenomenon, as everyone needs a little time away from others to plan, to think, and to rest.

However, being lonely is a different matter entirely. When people are alone, they don’t always feel lonely. While many people can still feel lonely even if they are surrounded by people. To put it simply, loneliness can be viewed as a signal indicating that some important social connections are at risk or even absent.

Loneliness is both genetic and environmental.

Why do we feel lonely? Perhaps it’s people’s nature. Researchers find that loneliness can be passed down from parent to child. [1] The genetic data collected from twins, relatives, and adopted children proves this trait is a part of their genetic makeup.

Loneliness is not only a nature. Sometimes people feel lonely because they’re affected by others. Loneliness is contagious. People who are not lonely tend to become lonelier if they are around lonely people, according to a research.[2]

Loneliness is closely linked to health problems.

While it’s normal to feel lonely or isolated from time to time, too much loneliness can be unhealthy or even dangerous. Numerous studies have linked with excessive ongoing feelings of loneliness to the following health issues [3]:

  • Difficult breathing
  • Feeling of isolation
  • Brain fog
  • Stress
  • Obsessive behaviors

However, as a matter of fact, loneliness is a condition that can be fought against and overcome.

Here we have 10 things for you to cope with loneliness easily.

1. Take a walk to refresh your mind and body.

Walking has been proven to offer many great health benefits for the body and the mind. Yes, any form of exercise would do as well, but walking is better, as it allows one to explore their town in a way a car ride simply does not provide.

When you decide to walk, even when you are getting to an usual goal, try to take a different route than you usually do. Even better, try to pick a direction at random. Just the feeling of walking down the street, surrounded by traffic and other people, is going to make you feel involved in your own city. At the end, you may discover something new you hadn’t known before!

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2. Join a club and meet people who share your passion too.

Everyone has some passion. Sometimes, sharing your passion with others does not only open you up to more friendship; it may even enhance your talents in surprising ways!

Even the smallest town has some clubs. If you are interested in public service, why don’t you try the Rotary Club, Kiwanis, or the Lions Club? If you like playing chess, join a chess club; playing with others will definitely sharpen your logic skills.

Or you can even explore things which are new to you. Pottery, writing, wine tasting, dancing. These are only a few examples of many.

If there’re no nearby clubs that interest you, start one of your own. Odds are good that if you have an interest, someone else in the area is likely to share it!

3. Heat up a “real” conversation to invite deep friendship.

We are especially prone to loneliness in the modern society. Social media like Facebook, Whatsapp, or Snapchat may allow more convenient communication, but all these ways of communication neglect the importance of face-to-face socialization.

And at the end, despite many “friends” we have on the online media, they don’t really have anyone to talk to when they need friends most.

We prefer online communication to face-to-face conversation because online communication is less committed, if you don’t respond instantly, it’s okay. But face-to-face conversation doesn’t really need to be stressful. When you’re with someone who you can be comfortable with, silence is precious too.

Just try to reconnect with your old friends, grab a coffee and have a chat with them casually. You guys can even talk about all the silly things you did together in the past, and understand how each other’s doing now.

4. Adopt a pet to heal your pain and anxiety.

Having a pet can heal pain or anxiety arising from loneliness.

It does so, as it colors your leisure time. Pets are always there willing to spend time with you. Think of all the strolling, playing, or like me with my dog, sleeping together.

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But beyond just being a loyal companion, a pet is literally a medicine to heal your pain, as science says. As Dr. Becker says,

a pet is like Valium, which reduces anxiety, and “the less anxiety, the less pain”[4].

And a study in Loyola University also proves that people who receive pet therapy recover from surgery with significantly less pain medicine than those who do not.

As the creator of the comic Peanuts, Charles Schulz said, “happiness is a warm puppy”.

If you hope to combat loneliness and embrace happiness, you may consider getting a pet!

5. Offer others a helping hand to realize your own value.

Very often, the root of loneliness is that we don’t feel valued by others. But in fact, self-value is earned.

Audrey Hepburn once said:

“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others”.

This quote highlights the importance of helping others, and also highlights the fact that most of the time we are the key to many problems we are facing; in other words, you can cure your loneliness.

Giving others a hand will help you realize your value, as you discover you are capable of doing so. And helping others also open up opportunities of deep friendships, as very often, a deep relationship is forged in adversity.

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When we talk about “helping others”, you don’t need to always save others by risking life. You can just pay attention to details.

Write your colleague a card if he or she is unhappy. Read out loud for the old man living next to you. Or help a child to reach the top of a rack.

These are not issues of life or death. But it is in these details that we realize love.

6. Talk to yourself to build a better self-relationship.

When you feel lonely and think you have got no friends to talk to, you yourself is the best person to talk to.

It may sound weird and insane but it works. You can simply talk to yourself in your mind or pick up a pen and write yourself a letter. Treat yourself as a friend of yours. Tell about your day and talk about your feeling. You can share crazy ideas with yourself without worrying what others think. This serves as an opportunity  to build a better relationship with yourself.

In life, there are many people around you. They come and go. Only very few of them stay till the end. So the most important relationship in life is the self-relationship. You will be clearer of how you feel and what you think after a genuine conversation with yourself.

7. Do something random to experience new excitement.

Loneliness is sometimes accompanied with boredom. Some spontaneous randomness would drive away your sadness.

It can be small things like taking a different route to work, hopping on a random bus to go to the other side of the city where you have never been to, or traveling to a foreign country to get lost in translation.

Such randomness brings you excitement when you’re discovering something new. When you take a different route to work, you barely know what you will see and who you will meet at the next street corner. Every minute is new to you. It’s like an adventure.

8. Strike up conversation with strangers to feel connected.

What is the best thing about strangers? They don’t know you and they don’t judge you. Even if they judge you, you needn’t feel bad as you won’t see them ever again!

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Strangers are everywhere. You can simply strike up a conversation with the person sitting next to you on a bus, or the person who shares a table with you at a diner. There are also many ways for you to meet people online through apps and websites.

Talking to someone makes you feel connected, even if the connection only lasts for a while. But when the connection is lost, you won’t feel that bad because from the very beginning you have already known that this won’t last long.

9. Stay away from people who are not sympathetic.

It may sound counter-intuitive, but somehow staying with toxic people who don’t show sympathy for others may make you even lonelier.

A fruitful relationship is supposed to make you feel contented. However, being with someone who is unable to understand you, it is hard to feel happy. You may even feel lonelier if that person is a narcissist who constantly undermines your self-respect.

Consider walking away from anyone who doesn’t make you feel happy, or make you feel even lonelier.

What nourishes our life is meaningful relationships, not destructive ones. If you find someone who is deepening your loneliness, let go of them.

10. If your loneliness is continuously stressing you, seek professional medical help.

Persistent loneliness is an indicator of depression. In case of depression, professional medication is necessary.

Counselling is helpful. A few sessions with a trained psychologist are going to help you pinpoint what triggers your loneliness. A trained psychologist is able to help you with professional strategies.

Please remember seeking help is not a weakness; quite the contrary, seeking help takes a lot more strength than pretending everything is fine.

Be brave to tackle the problem. And we believe you will eventually get the taste of happiness in life.

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

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Last Updated on May 20, 2019

How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying About the Past or Future

How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying About the Past or Future

We sometimes hear people talk about the importance of living in the moment. We might hear about the different ways it will benefit us. It all sounds wonderful, but how exactly can we live in the moment when our mind is constantly racing?

In this article, we’ll discuss some of the benefits of living in the moment you may not be aware of. Then we’ll look at some of the obstacles, and why we worry. Finally, and most importantly, I’ll show you how to live in the moment and stop worrying using some simple practices that you can easily incorporate into your busy schedule.

The result: a happier and more fulfilling life.

Why Live in the Moment?

“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.” – Buddha

Living in the moment has innumerable benefits. Here are just a few that will enhance your life tremendously:

Better Health

By reducing stress and anxiety, you avoid many of the associated health consequences, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity. Studies have shown that being present can also improve psychological well-being.[1]

Improve Your Relationships

Have you ever been with someone who is physically present, but mentally he’s a million miles away?

Being with unavailable people is a struggle, and makes relationships with them extremely difficult.

How about being with someone who is fully present? We enjoy being with him because we can make a much deeper connection with him.

By living in the moment, you can be that person other people enjoy being with, and you make relationships much easier.

Greater Self-Control

You have greater control over your mind, body, and emotions. Imagine how much better your life would be if it weren’t at the mercy of a racing mind, and unpredictable emotions. You would certainly be more at peace, and much happier.[2]

Why Do We Worry?

Before we answer this question, it’s important to distinguish between worry and concern.

When we are concerned about something, we are more likely dealing with a real problem with realistic solutions. Then once we do whatever we can to address the problem, we’re willing to live with the outcome.

Worrying, on the other hand, involves unrealistic thinking. We may worry about a problem that doesn’t really exist, or dwell on all the bad things that can happen as a result. Then, we feel unable to deal with the outcome. Either way, we have difficulty dealing with uncertainty, which is a normal part of life.

Certainly, some of our problems may not have desirable outcomes, such as a serious health issue. Some problems may be beyond our control, such as civil unrest or economic downturn. In such cases, it can be hard to avoid worrying, but not impossible.

We sometimes worry when we don’t know how to deal with a problem. For example, have you ever received a letter from the IRS telling you that you owe more money than you thought, and don’t have the funds to pay it? This is enough to scare anyone who is not familiar with taxes.

How to Live in the Moment

Step 1: Overcome Worrying

In order to overcome worrying, we need to do two things:

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Learn How to Live in the Moment

By living in the moment, you calm your mind, and are able to see more clearly.

The reason some problems seem so daunting is that our mind is racing so fast that we cannot see things as they truly are. So we make up a bunch of possible scenarios in our mind, most of which are unlikely to come true.

In addition to seeing more clearly, living in the moment will help us think more realistically. Unrealistic thinking is fueled by confusion and uncontrolled emotions. Calming your mind will reduce confusion and calm your emotions.

Learn to Focus on Solutions Instead of Problems

Some people tend to be more solution-oriented, and others more problem-oriented. Some of the factors that may determine this are gender, upbringing, and education.

People with higher educations tend to be problem-solvers. That is what their years of education train them to do. In addition, their jobs probably reinforce this way of thinking.

If you’re not problem-solving oriented, don’t worry. You can train yourself to worry less. We’ll discuss that soon.

Step 2: Identify Obstacles to Living in the Moment

In today’s busy world, it can be a challenge to live in the moment. The reasons revolve around how our mind works, and outside influences.

Racing Mind

Many busy people have a racing mind that never seems to slow down. Their mind gets so agitated from too much sensory stimulation.

You see, anything that stimulates any of our five senses (sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell) will trigger a thought, and that thought leads to another, and then another, and so on.

If you have a busy life, all your activities will overstimulate your mind, and make it seemingly impossible to slow it down. And an agitated mind wants to go to another place and time.

Unpleasant Situations and Troublesome Past

None of us want to be in unpleasant situations, or remember those of the past. They can bring up painful emotions, which we don’t want to feel.

So how do most people cope with painful emotions?

By doing whatever we can to avoid them, and we can avoid them by taking our mind to another place and time where things are more pleasant.

In other words, we avoid living in the present moment.

Some people resort to doing things that stimulate sensory pleasure, such as eating, alcohol or sex. Others will consume substances that dull their mind, and keep them from thinking about unpleasant or stressful situations.

A Wandering Mind

From the moment we are born (likely sooner) until the time we die, our body and mind are active performing some function. So it’s natural for our mind to have some level of activity, whether conscious or unconscious.

Generally, a wandering mind is unproductive. As noted above, one thought starts an endless chain of thoughts. The reason is that one thought reminds us of something else, and this process can go on until we need our mind to perform a specific function, or until we get distracted with something else.

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Now, there are times when a wandering mind can be productive, such as when creating works of art, or trying to find creative solutions to problems. In such cases, we need our mind to explore different possibilities.[3]

Outside Influences

Most of us are not fully aware of how our environment and social norms influence our thinking and behavior. People and institutions are constantly competing for our attention. The news media draw our attention to the past, and advertising usually to the future.[4]

Many people around us who dwell on the past or future try to draw us to their way of thinking. Even the whole concept of the American dream is geared toward the future. It tells us that if we acquire things like a good career, family, and house, then we’ll be happy.

Step 3: Practice Mindfulness

So how can we live in the moment in a world that is constantly trying to draw our attention to the past and future?

Before we get into concrete actions you can take, it’s important to understand what mindfulness is. You’ve probably heard the term before, but may not fully understand what it means.

Understand Mindfulness

The concept of mindfulness is actually quite simple. To be mindful IS to live in the moment.

When you are mindful, your attention is focused on what is happening in the present moment. When you are mindful, you are fully in touch with reality because the present moment is where reality is taking place.

You are aware of what is happening in your body, mind, emotions, and the world around you. This is different than thinking about these things. To develop greater understanding, you don’t have to think about them so much, but rather just observe them.

This may be counter-intuitive to many people, especially intellectuals, because they’re so used to using logic to develop greater understanding. With mindfulness, we calm our mind and emotions so we can see clearer. Then much of our understanding will come from simply observation. When we develop mindfulness, we literally expand our awareness.

To develop mindfulness, we need to train ourselves to observe things more objectively, that is, without our emotions or preconceived ideas influencing our views.

You’d be surprised to find out just how much your emotions and past experiences influence your judgments. What many of us do, including intellectuals, is make a quick judgment about a person or situation, then add the reasoning afterwards. That is not logic, but rather rationalization.

When you are mindful, you reserve judgment until you have more information. Notice how I said “more information,” and not “complete information.” It is impossible to have complete information about something because there are infinite numbers of factors affecting it. So the best thing to do is be as objective as possible, and always be open to new information.

Viewing the world in this manner can be a challenge, and takes some practice to overcome years of habitual thinking. But it can make our lives infinitely more fulfilling, as we’ll be able to make much better decisions that will result in real happiness and inner peace.

So if you’re ready to live a better life, read on for some simple mindfulness practices that you can incorporate into your busy life to help you live in the moment, that is, reality.

You don’t have to do all of them, but rather choose the ones that appeal to you, and suit your lifestyle.

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation is the mainstay of developing mindfulness and living in the moment. To practice mindfulness meditation, all you really have to do is sit quietly and follow your breathing. When your mind wanders off, just bring it back to your breath.

Notice how your lungs expand with each in-breath, and contract with each out-breath. Let your breathing become relaxed and natural.

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You don’t have to do it perfectly. The idea is to give your mind a rest from the constant sensory stimulation of all your activities, and just allow it to settle down naturally. Start with about 5 to 10 minutes per day and work your way up to about 20 minutes or longer.

This practice is highly effective, and can have both short-term and long-term benefits.

If you want to learn more about mindfulness meditation, take a look at this article: How to Practice Mindful Meditation to Calm Your Thoughts

Also, there are many good books on the market that explain the concepts and techniques in greater detail. Some examples are

Mindful Breathing

While this may sound the same as mindfulness meditation, all you’re really doing is taking short breaks occasionally (10 to 15 seconds) to observe your breathing. Stop whatever you’re doing, and take a few mindful breaths, then resume your activity. That’s it.

You can do mindful breathing at any time of the day during your busy schedule. What it does is interrupt the acceleration of your mind. It is like taking your foot off the accelerator while driving. It’s a nice refreshing break you can take without anyone noticing.

Here’re some breathing exercises you can try to learn: 5 Breathing Exercises for Anxiety (Simple and Calm Anxiety Quickly)

Mindful Walking

Walking is an activity that you perform several times throughout the day. We often think we’re being productive by texting, or calling someone while walking. But are we really?

Instead of getting on your cell phone, or letting your mind wander off, why not use your walking for training yourself to live in the moment?

Mindful walking is similar to mindful breathing. But instead of focusing on your breath, focus on your walking. Pay attention to each footstep. Also, notice the different motions of your arms, legs, and torso. When your mind wanders off, just bring your attention back to your walking.

You can even make a meditation out of walking. That is, go walking for a few minutes outside. Start by slowing down your pace. If you slow down your body, your mind will follow.

In addition to paying attention to your walking, notice the trees, sunshine, and critters. A mindful walk is enjoyable, and can really help your mind settle down.

Mindful Eating

Eating is an activity that most of us perform mindlessly. The reason is that it doesn’t require your attention to perform. So what many of us do is try to multitask while we eat. We may talk on the phone, text, watch TV, or even hold a meeting.

The problem with not eating mindfully is that we don’t eat what our body and mind need to perform at an optimal level. We may eat unhealthy foods, or too much. This can lead to various health problems, especially as we get older.

Mindful eating has many health benefits, such as reduced food cravings, better digestion, and even weight loss.[5]

So how do you eat mindfully? Start by slowing down, and avoid the temptation to distract yourself with another activity. Here are 3 different aspects of eating where you can practice mindfulness:

  • Eating itself: Focus your attention on choosing a portion of food to insert into your mouth. Notice the smell, flavor, and texture as you chew it; then finally swallow it. As with following your breath during meditation, pay close attention to every aspect of eating.
  • Choice of foods: Although you’ve already chosen your food before you have begun eating, you can still take the opportunity to contemplate your choices. Think about the nutrients your body needs to sustain itself. Ask yourself, “Is this what my body and mind need to be healthy, and perform at an optimal level?” “Is it sufficient, or too much?” By asking yourself these questions, you will be more inclined to make better choices in the future.
  • Contemplating the sources: Most of us don’t think about all the work it takes to provide us with the food we eat. While you’re eating, consider all the work by the farmer, shipping company, and the grocery store. These are real people who worked hard to provide you with the food necessary for your survival.

You can find more tips about mindful eating here: 7 Simple Steps to Mindful Eating

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Mindful Activities

Choose an activity that you perform regularly, such as washing dishes. Focus all your attention on this activity, and resist the temptation to let your mind wander, or get distracted. When it does, then just bring your attention back to washing dishes.

Notice some of the specific movements, or sensations of washing dishes, such as how the soapy water feels on your hands, the circular motion of scrubbing the dish, or the rinsing. You’d be surprised at how such a mundane activity can truly expand your awareness.

You can choose any activity you like, such as ironing, folding clothes, mowing the lawn, or showering. Over time, you will begin doing all these activities with greater mindfulness.

Bonus Suggestion

Here is one activity that is not generally considered a mindful activity. It is physical training. For those of you who already workout, it may be easy to see how physical training requires you to live in the moment.

Here’s how it works:

In order to perform an exercise to get the desired benefit, you need to use a proper technique. In order to use the proper technique, you need to pay close attention to how you are doing the exercise. In other words, you need to be fully present in the moment.

Another aspect of training that helps you live in the moment is tuning into what is happening in your body. First, during exercising, you need to pay close attention to how your body feels. Are you exercising hard enough, or not enough?

There are times to go easy, such as during warm-up exercises; and times to push yourself hard, such as when you’re warmed up and want to stimulate growth.

Second, when you’re not in the gym training, you need to pay close attention to the signals your body is sending you. What nutrients and how much do you need to consume to support your training? How much rest do you need?

By tuning in to your body, you force yourself to be in the moment. So, physical training done properly is just about as effective as meditation, or any mindful activity, for developing mindfulness. It’s also great for your health.

Final Thoughts

Practicing mindfulness is like regularly putting small amounts of change in a jar. They will all add up over time. And this will add up to greater peace and happiness.

Remember, you don’t have to do the mindfulness practices perfectly to get the benefits. All you have to do is keep bringing your mind back to the present moment when it wanders off.

Practicing mindfulness may be a bit challenging in the beginning; but I can assure you, it will get easier fairly quickly.

The benefits of living in the moment are well within your reach, no matter how much your mind is racing. If you stick with these mindfulness practices, you too will learn how to live in the moment and stop worrying; and when you do, a whole new world will open up for you. This is what Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh calls the ultimate reality.

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

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