Loneliness in recovery can become among the most challenging obstacles to overcome. Loneliness can lead to isolation, negative thoughts, negative behaviors, relapse, or worse. Likewise, sometimes in recovery, you might feel like you are the only one in the world, alone and detached from others – especially late in the night.
Amid a year of social restrictions, these unique times have many people feeling lonely and isolated from society. Since many different factors can cause loneliness, its long-term effects can impact your mental and physical health. Let's take a look at how you can combat your loneliness and feel connected with yourself and others again.
ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR FEELINGS OF LONELINESS
Confronting how you feel is the first step toward overcoming loneliness and its impact on your life and relationships. Talking with a mentor, counselor, therapist, or practicing mindfulness helps you work through your feelings. When you speak to others and let them know you are struggling, not only can you bring a sense of brevity to your situation, but your mind discovers that others are feeling the same. Therefore you can work together to combat your loneliness.
Sometimes just knowing that others are there to support you is enough to get you through the long hours of the night when loneliness thrives. Alternatively, setting up a plan with a loved one such as friends, family, and peers to make themselves available at all hours reduces the anxiety and temptations you feel when you are alone. It all starts with sharing your feelings and concerns and getting to understand your emotions.
SHOULD YOU TURN TO ONLINE INTERACTION?
Online endeavors can be a double-edged sword, especially when dealing with loneliness and isolation. The question then becomes, "log on or log off, which is healthier?" Simply put, it all depends. The online world does offer non-threatening and convenient ways to connect with others that can help you overcome loneliness. Multiplayer gaming, chat, and message sites, and of course, support room meeting sites can offer ways to interact and engage with others that are satisfying.
Online apps also exist to help you deal with issues of loneliness and social isolation. Professional facilities such as START UP RECOVERY offer 24/7 admissions, including a support staff available to handle your call and address your questions day or night.
What about social media? For some, online interactions may contribute to stronger feelings of loneliness and isolation. Social media can portray people who seem to be living exciting and happy lives with hundreds of friends. The reality is that social media is generally not reality. Such social experiences can cause you to feel inadequate, left out, and lonely. It is essential to assess how you utilize your online ventures. If social media creates feelings of loneliness and isolation, then this is a clear sign that it is time to log off.
You can further disable social media apps on your phone, so you are not notified when a post happens. Taking these measures helps your mind completely forget about these apps, which can be a very liberating experience.
SEEK VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES
A big part of recovery is giving back. Contributing your time and energy while working with others to serve a good cause can effectively help you fight loneliness. Volunteer activities ease stress, depression and build connections with others. While there may be social restrictions in place, you can still find volunteer opportunities online or within your community. Reach out to friends, family, and peers to see what is available. Working within your community is another excellent way to meet new people and make friends.
Examples of volunteer opportunities include:
- Visiting seniors at a nursing home
- Working at a children's hospital
- Walking dogs or spending time at an animal shelter
- Delivering for a Meals on Wheels service
UTILIZE SELF-CARE PRACTICES
Aside from connecting with others, don't overlook your need to connect with yourself. Activities such as exercise, nutrition, and sleep each contribute to your overall mood and wellbeing. For example, exercise generates endorphins within the brain, sometimes referred to as the "happy hormones." Such hormones help elevate your mood to feel better. Likewise, good nutrition nourishes not only your physical health but also your mental health. Eating whole foods, including vegetables, grains, and omega-three fatty acid-filled foods such as eggs and fish, can boost your mood.
No schedule or emotion can function adequately without good rest. Poor sleep habits can perpetuate feelings of loneliness. If you are feeling lonely, try practicing better sleep habits. Limit sugar, caffeine, and screen time before bed. Arrange your sleeping environment to provide adequate temperature and darkness needed for sleep. Maintaining self-care is not limited either; reading a book, meditating, or just sitting outside are also healthy forms of self-care, so make sure you're tending to your needs.
Loneliness affects millions of people, especially during a global pandemic. However, there are many things you can do to overcome loneliness. Perhaps the most important thing you can do to overcome loneliness is reaching out for help before loneliness consumes you. At START UP RECOVERY, we believe that finding your best success means being able to manage and enjoy every facet of your life, from personal to professional. Our goal is to help you realize how you feel and find the best strategy to maintain feelings of joy, motivation, and optimism. We will connect you with motivated individuals, including staff that will work with you to create more avenues for success, and we will do it by helping you look inward. With a sunny SoCal location, you will never be short of inspiration. If you are currently struggling, then don't wait; the time to get help is today. To learn more, call START UP RECOVERY at 310-773-3809.