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How to Be Alone Without Being Lonely

Some people naturally enjoy being alone. Others, not so much. In either case, being alone after the ending of your marriage has a different, more lonely quality to it that’s part of the normal sadness that comes with divorce. As your recovery progresses, cultivating a love for your own company is a valuable life skill that you can develop.

Here are some tips for getting comfortable and even learning to appreciate being alone.

1. Relish the fact that you have only yourself to please. There are no compromises to make about the temperature, the TV show, what’s for dinner, how you spend money, how you live your life, or anything else. It’s all about what you want. You may need to get back in touch with your preferences and being alone is the perfect opportunity. In the meantime, spread out over the whole bed, dance around the Livingroom in your underwear, eat ice cream for dinner—you’re in charge!

2. Give yourself projects. There is something very satisfying about checking things off your list. Maybe it’s food prep for the week or getting your car washed. Or commit to a longer-term project like purging and organizing. (I suggest Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up for encouragement on only keeping what sparks joy!) Or start prowling re-sale shops and home decorating stores to give your space a lift. It’s fun to have a purpose.

3. Get creative. Doing a creative project puts you in the alpha state, which is calm, relaxed and quietly energized. Whether it’s tie-dying your old white tees, taking up watercolor, losing yourself in an adult coloring book, writing a short story or learning to knit, the point is to enjoy a creative project with no pressure on results. Don’t worry if you’re not good at it—the joy is in the process.

4. Listen up. Audiobooks, podcasts and music playlists bring the world to you while you’re driving, doing chores or taking a walk. Because you’re also active while listening, it’s much different from zoning out in front of the TV (which can make you feel worse). The voice or song in your ear helps make some of your solo time more enjoyable.

5.Learn something. Whether it’s a French cooking class at a local restaurant or a YouTube tutorial on origami, engage your brain in some novelty—it loves that! Think about what you’ve always wanted to know more about and get busy learning.

6. Do nothing. That can sound boring, but it’s actually very delicious to sit still. Set an alarm for 5 or 10 minutes, sit comfortably, and put your attention on your senses. See what your eyes are seeing (if your eyes are closed, this is the inside of your eyelids), hear what your ears are hearing, and feel what your body is feeling. Just be with yourself in peaceful silence. Guess what? You just meditated! Try doing it for a few minutes every day. It will change your brain for the better. According to a 2012 study, meditation can reduce loneliness.

7. Cut down on screen time. Some activities contribute to a sense of isolation. Binge-watching TV, scrolling your phone, and social media crawls often leave you lonely even as they distract you for a while. That’s because distraction is a low-quality state of being. What’s worse, the content you’re consuming can make you feel bad. Cut back if you want to feel better.

8.Let nature do its magic. You’re never alone in nature! Go for long walks and commune with all of our fellow living things. Nature has a restorative effect, and spending time appreciating the great outdoors WILL make you feel better. Even having live plants in your living and working spaces add to your feelings of well-being.

9.Change your attitude about being alone. We live in a world that thrives on being constantly connected. What used to be naturally occurring periods of solitude and silence (before technology) have been squeezed out of our lives. Technology and being connected aren’t inherently bad, but we’ve gotten out of balance. Being alone has great value. It allows issues and insights to surface. It offers time to contemplate your thoughts and explore your hopes and dreams. And, it provides time and space to step back, evaluate and learn from your experiences.

10. Remember, while being comfortably alone is a gift, you also have the option of being with other people when you want to. Make plans with friends and family. Find a volunteer opportunity that speaks to you and sign up for a regular shift. And make new friends by joining a MeetUp group or signing up for Bumble BFF (a dating app with a feature that helps you find nice people for friendship only). That way, you can create your perfect balance between solitude and community.

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