Loneliness is an increasing symptom of modern life. As people have become more connected by technology, there’s less time to stay connected with friends and loved ones in real-time. That can lead to emotional exhaustion and burnout.
If you’re finding the 24/7 nature of life is making you feel isolated and lonely, consider adding meditation to your self-care. Meditation is beneficial in reducing feelings of loneliness, even if you only have short periods of time for practice.
How Meditation Can Help
Meditation is grounded in keeping you in the present and detaching from troubling thoughts and feelings. Instead of being overwhelmed by your feelings, you can learn to observe and acknowledge them.
By taking a moment to sit quietly, you can accept the thoughts and emotions you’re currently experiencing. Meditation helps you notice what’s in your mind instead of either blocking it out or getting stuck in it.
Instead of panicking when you start to feel lonely, you acknowledge what is in your world right now. Notice, acknowledge, and move on, so the cycle of negative thinking is broken, and you stay calm and in control.
How to Meditate
Meditation is easy to incorporate into your regular schedule. You don’t need to go to a temple or sit on a cushion for hours in silence, just find a few minutes in your day to focus on your breath.
Meditation can be practiced almost anywhere. A quiet place is good, but you can also meditate in a park or garden, even during your commute.
Here’s a straightforward practice to help you deal with loneliness.
Get as comfortable as possible. Sit or lie down and make sure you’re warm enough.
Take a deep breath in and out to center yourself.
Think of someone you love. This could be a family member, partner, friend, or pet.
Imagine they are sitting beside you.
Send them love, like a light shining out from your heart and enveloping them in a virtual hug.
Repeat silently or out loud May you feel love, joy, and peace, three times.
Now think of someone (again, a person or animal) who has shown you love and kindness.
Imagine they are beside you beaming out love straight at you.
Repeat three times (again silently or out loud) May I feel love, joy, and peace.
Feel the love surrounding you, both giving and receiving.
Repeat three times May we all feel love, joy, and peace.
When you’re ready, come back to the present.
Practice this exercise as often as you wish, to tap into a feeling of love and kindness, and banish loneliness.
If you want to take meditation a step further Zen12 will guide you from beginner to advance, I personally use this on a regular basis and it’s awesome, Zen12 gives you a full hour’s worth of deep meditation, all in just 12 minutes. It uses “brainwave sounds” to speed up the process, and it’s genuinely unlike anything you’ve experienced before. I love this audio. You just listen, and you experience the results. It’s meditation for the modern world.
Loneliness is part of what it means to be human. You can bet that everyone you know has been lonely at some time. It can feel bad at the time, but being alone need not mean being lonely. Some folks will do anything to avoid being alone, but it’s important to be able to enjoy solitude, not dread it.
There are common misbeliefs about solitude that will make you feel even more lonely if you don’t deal with them.
- I’m Alone, so I Must be Boring
There’s a lot of pressure to be ‘on’ and extroverted all the time. But most folks simply aren’t like that. Living your regular life and just being you doesn’t mean you’re boring.
Your mom probably told you that you can’t please everyone. You can’t guarantee that everyone will like you either. However, if you believe this, take stock of how many people like you. Find evidence that this belief is false.
- Nobody Cares
Thinking nobody notices or cares about you is another common belief when you’re feeling lonely. But what is your evidence? Simply not being in other people’s company doesn’t mean nobody cares. People are probably just focused on their own stuff, just as you’re focused on yours.
- I Won’t Be Lonely If I Find a Partner
This belief is especially dangerous as it gives your power away. It also puts a lot of pressure and expectation on someone else to ensure your happiness. The only person who is responsible for your happiness is you.
- Being in a Group is Better than Being Alone
Sharing activities with other people can be a lot of fun. But it’s also good to learn to enjoy doing things by yourself. If you only go out or try something new when you’ve got company, you’ll be missing out on a lot of good times.
- I’ll Look Like a Loser If I’m by Myself
Seriously, have you ever seen someone walking alone or eating lunch by themselves and thought ‘what a loser’? If anyone notices that you are by yourself (and that’s a big if, as most people are focused on themselves), they’ll probably admire you for going it alone.
- Being Alone is a Terrible Thing
It’s true that human beings are social animals and most people feel more comfortable being with others. But fearing solitude doesn’t make any sense. No one is unaccompanied for every second of the day. Most folks will spend at least part of their lives alone.
It’s not terrible, it’s just another aspect of life. So, learn to embrace the potential of solitude for deep thinking, relaxing, and getting to know yourself better.
Everyone feels lonely from time to time. It’s a normal part of the human experience. But some people are more vulnerable to slipping from loneliness into depression. Or there can be hard times in your life when feeling lonely is only one step away from isolation and depression.
People who are at risk of depression typically feel isolated and lonely; they have low self-esteem that can easily tip into more extreme feelings of self-blame and guilt, even self-disgust. And these negative thought patterns can lead to full-blown depression. If you’re having bad feelings about yourself, feeling lonely and worthless, here are some things you can do to head off the risk of depression.
- Boost Your Social Support Network
Isolation increases the tendency to self-blame. Connection and social contact can go a long way to helping you alleviate your loneliness and get a different perspective on the world. Reach out to friends, colleagues, and family to increase the positive connections in your life.
- Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness helps you deal with what is in front of you right now. Developing a mindfulness practice can help you accept your thoughts and feelings without judgment. Simply by observing what is happening around you, focusing on what you can see, hear, feel, smell, and taste will help you break out of your negative thought patterns.
- Practice Self-compassion
People who are caught up in feelings of negative self-worth are often extremely hard on themselves. Allow yourself a little imperfection. Be kind and change that internal monologue to one less punitive.
- Change Your Self-talk
Have a look at your internal soundtrack. Are you full of self-recrimination? Do you magnify your flaws and faults? Now, would you talk to a friend like that? Rewrite that script into something more positive and self-affirming. If that is too hard to think about right now, try some of the books, apps, or websites that offer affirmations.
- Use Emotional Reappraisal to Boost Your Self-esteem
With a little practice, you can learn techniques to regulate your feelings and turn your self-esteem around. Depression often manifests in ruminating on the negatives in your life. You can use this focus to your advantage when you practice reappraisal.
Reappraisal is a cognitive-behavioral technique that allows you to reframe negative thoughts, flipping them to a more positive view. Instead of feeling paralyzed and crushed by life, you can take back control and develop more resilience.
Loneliness is something most people try to avoid. But being alone is an inevitable part of life. It happens to everyone at some time or another. It is important to be able to separate solitude from loneliness and to understand what is behind your feelings so you can embrace being alone.
Work Out the Root Cause of Your Fear of Loneliness
Some scientists believe loneliness is a basic emotion on a par with fear and anger. For millions of years, survival relied on being part of a group; being alone was risky. But now, a fear of loneliness can keep us in toxic relationships, unfulfilling jobs, and bad marriages. Identify what’s behind your fear of loneliness, and you can start to work on it.
Learn to Understand your Loneliness
Loneliness comes in many different guises. It can be temporary situational loneliness where you find yourself without company or help. Or you can be going through a life crisis that results in more extended social isolation. A relationship breakdown, losing your job, or being seriously ill can all make you feel completely cut off from love and support.
Solitude is quite a different state from loneliness. Artists, philosophers, and writers over the centuries have sought out solitude to think deeply and widely and to create their best work. Solitude can be a comfort in an overcrowded life. When you are by yourself, you can expand into being your true self.
Confront your Deepest Fears
Loneliness can be a product of the fundamental fear of separation that goes back to infancy. Separation means being vulnerable, having no one to rely on except yourself. This is the loneliness that realizes that in the end, there is nothing between you and the stars, no one to rescue you. That sort of existential fear can be scary. What are your deepest fears about being lonely? Identify them, acknowledge them, and take away some of their power over you.
Use Self-Actualizing Practices to Overcome Loneliness
Techniques like yoga, tai chi, and meditation can help you reconnect with your deepest self. Sitting alone in meditation separates you from the negative thought spirals and feelings that can make you feel so miserable.
A loving-kindness meditation practice can help you replace feelings of separation with feelings of love and connection. Give it a try:
Sit quietly and focus on your breath.
Breathe in, think ‘May I be happy.’
Breathe out, think ‘May I be loved.’
Breathe in, think ‘May all my suffering be healed.’
Breathe out, think ‘May I be at peace.’
Eventually, repeat the mantra, thinking of people who may be lonely at this time, replacing ‘I’ with ‘you.’
Finish by sending positive thoughts to all beings and repeating ‘May all beings be happy. May all beings be loved. May the suffering of all beings be healed. May all beings be at peace.’
This simple practice helps you feel connected to all of life whenever you do it.
When your kids are little, it’s hard to imagine life will ever be quiet again. After all, parenting is one of the most demanding and intense jobs there is. But sooner than you think, your children are off to college or a job, often in a different city, or even on the other side of the country. There is no more driving to band or baseball practice, no more dirty socks on the coffee table, and suddenly, you aren’t always running out of milk.
And whether you looked forward to this day or dreaded it, the house seems very empty now. All of a sudden, empty nest syndrome is real. So how can you deal with your kids moving out, and not fall into the trap of loneliness?
Find New, Meaningful Things to Do.
If you were very involved in your child’s life, you’ll find there’s quite a gap now in your daily routine. Maybe you coached your child’s netball class or cheered them on from the sidelines. Now you need to find something else to do that is meaningful to you. Maybe it’s time to go back to school or volunteer at the local not-for-profit. Look for activities that fire your passion or make you feel needed.
Reconnect with Your Partner
Once the kids have moved out, it’s a perfect time to remember why you got together in the first place and reconnect with your partner. Take advantage of the fact that you won’t be interrupted by spending some time rekindling the romance in your relationships. Now you have the time and space to share old interests and discover new ones together.
Share your feelings
If you’re having trouble adjusting to your newly empty nest, share your feelings with your partner. Chances are, they’re feeling the impact of your lives entering a new phase too. It’s a big upheaval for everyone as the family takes on a different shape.
But remember, people experience life-changing events in different ways, so don’t be hurt or shocked if they don’t feel the same way you do. Your partner may or may not be having similar empty nest feelings. This is an opportunity to sit down together, listen without judgment, and comfort each other.
Get the Help You Need
If your empty nest syndrome threatens to overwhelm you, make sure you get the professional help you need. Grief is a normal reaction to life-changing events, and sometimes you need a helping hand to get you through.
If you’ve read this for you must be committed to overcoming your loneliness, what to take the next step? Sign up for my FREE guide and workbook on overcoming loneliness. I’ve added some special material specifically for those self-isolating themselves during the Corona Virus epedemic. Download it here.