Caregiving can be an isolating experience especially if your charge has difficulty fighting off illness for one reason or another. Even as the number of people around us increases, it may still not help the feelings of loneliness. After all, most of them are strangers. You can walk past hundreds of people in a mall, drive past hundreds more on the road, and still not have a single meaningful conversation.
Thankfully, loneliness is a feeling. It’s part of your perception of the world and not a part of the world itself. These are some tips I use to beat loneliness. I hope they help.
- Make friends with your inner voice – I’m talking about that one that nags you and puts you down occasionally. The one that pipes up and says awkward things like “those pants make you look fat,” causing you to change your entire wardrobe AGAIN before you leave the house. All it takes is thinking positive thoughts to yourself day after day! If you realize you’re thinking something negative, compliment yourself on something which you do like and completely ignore the negative comment.
It will take a while. It took me over a year of doing this every day before I finally started hearing positive thoughts come to mind from my inner voice instead of negative ones. I still get the negative ones occasionally, of course, but they used to all be negative! Once your inner voice is kinder to you it will make you feel a lot more accepted and loved. Befriending and loving yourself is an amazing way to beat loneliness.
- Prioritize in-person interaction over online interaction – We all love our social media be it Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, or some other site. Unfortunately, time spent with people on social media is less time for our in-person company. If you find yourself spending a Friday night on Facebook, try to get in touch with a friend you haven’t seen in a while. Maybe they can come over and share a glass of wine, coffee, or tea even if you can’t easily take your child out and visit them. Sweeten the deal by keeping items on hand like appetizers, chocolates, and a variety of wines and teas.
- Spend more quality time with your spouse, partner, or best friend – The key to this is QUALITY time. Both of you staring down at your phones occasionally while you watch a TV show and happen to be sitting next to each other DOES NOT COUNT! If you’re not carrying on a conversation about something other than the weather you both need to try harder. There are all kinds of archaic items to bond over. While they may sound like they belong in a museum at this point, a deck of cards, a board game, or a puzzle is a great way to entertain yourselves while still leaving time and mental energy to talk.
If you have dinner together that’s an excellent place to start. No electronic devices at the table! It’ll take a little while for everyone to adjust but after a few nights people will start to realize they’re having dinner with someone else who might be worth talking to. Teenagers are an exception… some will refuse to join in regardless of how long you keep the devices out of their hands. Don’t give them back just because it seems like it’s not working. If they don’t have another form of entertainment they’ll listen. One day they may decide to join in.
I hope this is helpful! If you have any other suggestions I would love to hear them. Please feel free to comment and share.