Sitting still or being silent is often frowned upon. American's are taught to always be busy, to be doing something. As a result, I don't think people deal with their feelings in healthy ways, especially when it comes to loneliness. Rather than dealing with the cause of a feeling we distract ourselves by running out to the store to buy something, turning on the TV, or drinking alcohol. It temporarily eases discomfort, but doesn't deal with the underlying issue.
Humans are social animals. We crave connection and companionship. It's natural and important. I think blogs and social media platforms foster amazing connections. However, I don't think these tools replace face-to-face communication. Meeting a friend for a coffee date is a much different experience than talking on facebook or twitter. Although the internet has connected many of us together, are we really connecting or are we becoming more lonely?
Below are 8 simple tips to help you overcome loneliness. The tips will force you to get out from behind your computer screen.
1. Go ride your bike.
As you know I'm a huge fan of riding my bike. It's relaxing, fun, and a great way to see your surroundings. For example, on Friday night I'm attending an Art by Bike tour in Portland. I've gone on art walks before, but an art by bike tour will be completely different and fun!
Micro-action: Plan a fun biking adventure with friends or family. For example, go on an art by bike tour, picnic in the park or take a tour of your local coffee shops.
2. Write in your journal.
Writing is a powerful tool. It can help you identify many different types of feelings, including loneliness. If you're feeling lonely, start writing. Get your emotions out on paper and start asking yourself how you can create a feeling of connection in your life. Focus on the important.
Micro-action: If you don't have a journal, I highly recommend purchasing one. Use it to write down your ideas, feelings and action items to foster reflection and make your life better.
3. Cook a real meal.
Cooking a good meal can be a meditative experience. It's a great opportunity to mull over thoughts and lose yourself in a recipe. Cooking a real meal is also a perfect excuse to find a dinner date. I don't know about you, but I feel lonely when I eat alone. Making dinner for a friend or loved on is the perfect way to create a meaningful connection.
In addition, Michael Pollan talks about the importance of NOT eating alone. Eating with a friend is more fun. You're more likely to eat slower and less.
Micro-action: Do you cook real meals regularly? If not, make that part of your routine. If you're looking for simple and easy recipes subscribe to Stone Soup: Minimalist Home Cooking.
4. Take photographs.
Taking photos is a way to notice the details of life. Whenever I walk around with my camera and take photos I get into a zone. I notice the little things, like the morning dew on flowers or a beautiful sunset. For some reason this makes me feel less alone. The world is alive with beauty and has so much to offer. We just have to slow down long enough to notice.
Micro-action: If you own a camera, take it everywhere and start taking photos. If you don't own a camera try sketching in your journal.
5. Connect with your community.
There are so many ways you can connect with your community, from volunteering to attending city meetings. A few nights ago I attended a city budget forum. I was hesitant to attend, but I'm glad I did. I met some amazing community activists, I met the mayor and learned a great deal about the Portland community.
Micro-action: What are you doing in your community to make the world a better place? Do you sit on committees, volunteer at local organizations or mentor youth?
6. Read a good book.
Go to your library and pick up a good book. Reading is a great way to escape into another world or glean creative ideas for your latest project. I spend a lot of time in libraries and books stores. It's a frugal way to educate yourself, be inspired and a healthy way to use your time.
Micro-action: If you don't have a library card, go get one and start reading. Make a personal goal to read a book a week. If reading a book a week seems too overwhelming, try reading one book per month.
7. Be still and do nothing.
Supposedly being "busy" is a sign of success in this culture. I'm not sure that's true. Why are we all in such a hurry? Do we really create beautiful art if we we're rushing from place to place? And if everyone is so busy, how do we create meaningful connections with others?
Slow down, take your time and start to take your time. Rushing from place to place can be counterproductive. Being busy can sometimes erode our sense of purpose causing us to feel undervalued and lonely.
Micro-actions: Set aside 10 minutes a day for meditation. If you have over-committed yourself to meetings or projects, consider re-prioritizing what's important to you.
8. Set-up a coffee or tea date with a friend.
I have to admit that I've been a little lonely the last month. It's weird not having Logan in Portland and I miss him. At the same time being by myself has forced me out of my comfort zone and that's a good thing. It also makes me appreciate Logan and my friends even more.
Since I'm by myself, I've been getting together with new friends for coffee and dinner dates. It's been a great way to connect with others and get out of my apartment. Plus, I'm seeing more of Portland.
Micro-action: Call a friend and schedule a coffee or dinner date.
Leave a comment and tell me how do you deal with loneliness.