Although you (hopefully) consider yourself a pretty amazing person to hang out with, when it comes to living by yourself, there might come a time when you’re forced to face a harsh reality: Living alone isn’t always the best. Partially, this is because you maybe never anticipated the overwhelming feeling of being cut off from everything and everyone else, which can totally happen even in the most contented of solo situations.
Even though studies show that people who live alone are less lonely, you sometimes just can’t seem to shake off this dark fog that descends over you when you look around at your severely underpopulated place.
Your solo status might be getting the best of you, but there are ways to live alone without *feeling*lonely.
1Schedule time to leave the house just because.
Even if your grocery shopping is done, your work week is in the books, and there’s no legitimate reason for you to venture outside, do it anyway. When you live alone, it can be easy to bury yourself in the comforts of home. Before you know it, you’re frazzled, stricken with cabin fever, and incredibly lonely.
To avoid that sinking, isolated feeling, be intentional about leaving home. Make plans to spend an entire day away from your humble abode, whether it involves hanging with friends, people-watching in a park, or exploring a few local museums. You don’t have to have concrete goals in order to leave the house — sometimes leaving is the goal.
2 Get a pet.
In many ways, animals make better companions than humans. So if you’re a solo dweller fighting off a case of the lonelies, consider adopting a pet.
According to a 2012 NPR article on pet and human companionship, the bond between animals and people can be a source of healing that helps increase the body’s production of the hormone oxytocin. According to Rita Johnson, head of the Research Center for Human/Animal Interaction at the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine, the hormone helps make us feel happy and more inclined to trust others.
“Oxytocin has some powerful effects for us in the body’s ability to be in a state of readiness to heal, and also to grow new cells, so it predisposes us to an environment in our own bodies where we can be healthier,” Johnson told NPR.
Bottom line: Life is so much better with an animal friend by your side, and it can offset some of the downsides of living alone.
3Go toward the light.
Blackout curtains are great for sleep, but they won’t do much to alleviate the feelings of loneliness. If you’re feeling disconnected from the rest of the world, consider opening the curtains to let in some natural daylight, which is a natural mood-booster.
4Limit your time on social media.
Lurking on social media to see what all the non-lonely people are up to probably won’t make you feel better about sitting at home in your PJs eating in silent solitude. In fact, studies show too much time on social media exacerbates feelings of loneliness and envy.
Remember that most people on social media tend to put the best parts of their lives forward, so even if they’re just as lonely as you, the happy-go-lucky posts they’re sharing will make that more virtually impossible to believe.
5Get to the bottom of what makes you lonely.
If you can figure out what has you feeling so isolated, you’ll be able to recognize the triggers in advance and know how to tackle them before it fully consumes you. Sure, that’s easier said than done, but journaling and/or talking to a therapist would be great places to start.
6Remind yourself of the benefits of solo living.
Think of how wonderful it feels to freely eat junk food in bed without the unsolicited judgment from a slobby roommate (who *really* shouldn’t be criticizing you because she never cleans up after herself).
Stay focused on how much freedom you have: no sharing space, no need to get dressed, and no sharing the remote (oh, you know it’s the best part).
7Learn to enjoy your own company.
Are you a pro at giving yourself morning pep talks in the bathroom mirror? Are your impromptu karaoke skills on point? Learn to appreciate and enjoy the wonderful things about yourself that make you realize just how cool you are — even when you’re the only person around to witness your greatness.