Turning loneliness into peaceful solitude

Conquering loneliness is to build a private strength.

Many of us will feel lonely at some point along our path of life. Many factors and events can influence feelings of loneliness, such as moving, divorce or separation, loss of friends or a partner, being by yourself during holidays, and/or loss of income. The good news is that you can manage your loneliness by developing some skills for dealing with the feelings. Acquiring these skills takes some effort but it will be worth it in the end.

There are two words to describe being alone. They are solitude, which refers to feeling peaceful and quiet within our self – and loneliness, which suggest feelings of discomfort, boredom or sadness. Think about your situation – do you feel solitude or loneliness? What do you do when you feel lonely?

There are a variety of ways people incorporate to rid themselves of loneliness. One way you can deal with loneness is using it as an opportunity to develop yourself. Examples might be: Play or listen to music, write, work or study, exercise, walk, work on a hobby and/or read. Being comfortable when you are alone takes time, but it will come. Think of it as being with yourself instead of being without someone. Be patient and don’t expect immediate blissful peace.

The irony of loneliness and companionship is that we find friendships when we least expect it. We find friendship when we take action and reach out to others. Devote yourself to activities, hobbies or projects that you care about. You will find yourself in the company of others with similar outlooks. Join and become active in volunteer work, social and service groups and organizations that interest you. This is one of the most effective ways to deal with loneliness.

Often when we are lonely we will distract ourselves with activities such as shopping, taking a drive, going for a walk or doing something for ourselves – like purchasing a new outfit or getting a new hair style. In moderation, these activities can get us going, but be aware that you are not doing them in excess.

People who turn away from others may experience extended loneliness, depression and poor physical health. If you are experiencing feelings of self-contempt and inadequacy, contact a mental health professional to help you move forward to a happier self.

The first step in managing loneliness is acknowledging it. If you can manage these feeling effectively, you can experience the peace of solitude and the pleasure to help others.

Michigan State University Extension offers classes on stress and anger management. For programs near you go to http://msue.anr.msu.edu/events.

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