By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.
Some tools to combat loneliness.
This is a time of the year when loneliness walks among us and it can swallow up the unwary. There are more people than ever on the earth, the stores are packed and yet one place loneliness lurks is in the crowd.
Loneliness is a major cause of relapse, relapse to drug and alcohol use, relapse to depression, relapse on any part of your recovery.
Feeling lonely is not about the number of people in your world. It is about the connections you have with those people. As we get older it becomes harder to make new friends. Over the holiday’s everyone is so very busy. It is easy to become isolated – then depressed.
This time of year people are prone to start evaluating their relationships. Are they what you want? Some family dinners will be full of love, others will be full of recrimination and fault-finding. More than a few will be drunken brawls.
Your romantic relations may be under strain. You might look around and see presumably happy couples and we wonder if your relationship measures up. When we are lonely we can easily believe it is our partner or our families fault.
What are some ways to defeat loneliness if you find yourself feeling alone in your relationship or lonely in the crowd?
1. Get out of your routine.
It is easy to stay home and avoid situations where others will be around. We call that isolating. It is a symptom of depression. It can also be a cause of sadness and depression. Getting out and mingling is a good way to put yourself in contact with others if only for a while.
Try to do this with a hopeful attitude. Expect to talk to others and to make connections.
2. Reach out to someone else.
One really fast way to make new friends is to reach out to others. Put your hand out and introduce yourself. Say something kind or nice to someone around you.
Start a conversation with someone about where you are or what you are doing.
3. Spend time at a fellowship.
If you are a member of a religious group make it a priority to attend their functions this holiday. When there participate in something.
If you are in recovery attend a 12 step or other support group meeting. In many places, there are “Alchathons” or marathon meetings. These meetings occur every hour round the clock and provide a safe place for people in recovery to hang out over the holidays and not be alone in their own heads.
4. Reconnect with old friends.
Call someone you haven’t talked with in a while. Send out some emails. Do not let yourself dwell on the people who do not respond or who do not have time to talk. Focus on those people who stop and talk with you.
5. Reach out to someone else who may be feeling down and lonely.
In twelve steps groups, the advice is to call one other recovering person each day. That provides support for you in times of need. You may also find that other person needed the call even more than you did.
6. Do something nice for someone else.
Reaching out to others to help them – be of service – this can make you feel connected to others and far less lonely.
How will you defeat loneliness this holiday season? Do you have any other suggestions, not on my list?
Staying connected with David Joel Miller
Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!
Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.
Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.
Sasquatch. Wandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time, but the Sasquatch intends to kill them.
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.