There is a difference between being alone and feeling lonely. Every woman over 60 understands this. Being alone is something we have all experienced in our lives at one time or another, sometimes by choice, sometimes by circumstances beyond our control.

Many women live alone by choice, enjoying their own company and finding lots of things to keep them genuinely happy and busy. Or, even if women live with a family or a partner, there are times when they look forward to time spent alone indulging in their own passions and interests.

If children have left home or there has been a divorce or death, many women move through the stages of grieving and accept and embrace solitude with grace and resilience.

Dealing with Loneliness is Possible… but, it Takes Time

But sometimes, even if we’re happy being “alone,” we all have occasions of feeling lonely. In a more severe form, loneliness can manifest as a symptom of depression. How we overcome depression and loneliness starts with accepting ourselves at a fundamental level, and having a personal identify that is not dependent on anyone else.

Most women bounce back from loss and separation, connecting with other people, and loving the time they spend alone. But loneliness can pose a different and more serious challenge. When we feel lonely, we might feel frightened and depressed, and might lack motivation to connect outside ourselves.

Feeling lonely occasionally is a normal part of aging. It can be brought on by separation from family and children, financial limitations, worries about the future and lack of control. All of these worries heighten the feelings of loneliness.

Here are some ways to learn how to deal with loneliness in a constructive and positive way:

Get Real

Loneliness and isolation in older people is common but it can be dealt with in some simple ways. The first step is to understand and define what is really at the heart of your feeling of loneliness.

Is it a somber anniversary of a sad moment, or is the weather awful? Are you feeling trapped in the house by cold winter weather, or have you been feeling ill and unable to meet with friends? Perhaps it might help to meditate and listen to your thoughts that come bubbling to the surface.

In my interview with Susan Piver we talk about the fact that happiness is a combination of happy and sad days, so, take this feeling of loneliness and see whether it is leading you to a greater understanding about something you need to deal with.

It’s OK to be alone, and there are lots of things you can do on your own, but, don’t let your solitary life make you feel lonely. Try to stop worrying about the things that you don’t have, and focus on what you do possess. Be empowered by memories and be not afraid of the future.

Get Active

Another way to deal with loneliness and depression is to get out into the world. Even just the simple act of going to the grocery store or the mall, or walking around downtown during a busy workday, or riding the bus or the train can be very helpful in overcoming a sense of isolation. Watching other people like you getting on with their day might inspire you to get a new perspective on your own situation. Lots of people are living alone, so don’t let that stop you from doing things you love.

Physical activity of any kind will stimulate your brain and body to produce feel-good hormones that help you to feel better and more in control. Whatever you choose, do something to get your mind and body active. Simply walk as far as you can, ride a bike, or take up tai chi or belly dancing. By putting your attention toward your body, you can shift your mindset off your loneliness.

Don’t stress if it takes a little while to see a positive change in your mindset – take small steps that will change your behavior over time.

Get Interesting

I once read a sign that said, “Don’t be afraid of getting older – be afraid of getting boring!” Often a feeling of loneliness emerges when there is a sense of boredom about the routines and associations in our lives. So, instead of looking at being alone as something that limits you, why not look at it as an opportunity to do anything your heart desires!

Try something new. Perhaps consider taking a class, playing an instrument, learning a new hobby and taking a chance. Do something that challenges you to feel a little mysterious. Become fascinating to yourself and you will become interesting company to keep!

If you have any doubt that you are an interesting woman, start writing your life story and you’ll see what amazingly interesting things you have done in your life and have just temporarily forgotten!

Get Social

Experiencing loneliness as older women can feel a little overwhelming. When you are feeling a little blue, you might tend to withdraw from the world – so instead, pick up the phone and call a friend. Share your thoughts and feelings with someone who cares. Let the words that have been spinning round in your head get out, so you can gain some perspective and feedback.

If you don’t have a friend you can call, try to make some. Perhaps you can join an online group or volunteer somewhere there will be people you can chat with. Start slowly and don’t worry if it takes a while to connect. Getting social is one of the arts of living that requires a little practice so again just take one step at a time.

Get Healthy

When you are feeling a little lonely and depressed, one of the best therapies is to get physically active. Even if it’s just to walk around the block, make time to get the benefit of fresh air and let Mother Nature remind you of the gifts that are totally free and which energize and soothe you. It is important that you try to stop habits that make you feel physically more vulnerable, including drinking and smoking.

Take the time to prioritize a healthy diet and incorporate healthy vegetables and fruits into your life rather than reaching for lots of bread and sweets. It’s fine to treat yourself occasionally, but establishing good eating and exercise habits will cheer you up.

Get Positive

The signs of depression in older women usually begin with a feeling of helplessness and lack of control. This negative mindset is the foundation of loneliness as it positions every thought in terms of what is not possible rather than what is. Start with a positive attitude and the world is transformed. Remember the things you have, appreciate the gifts you have been given.

Try to get things in perspective with positivity and you will be on the way to reshaping and living through the lens of an attitude of gratitude!

What do you to avoid feeling lonely or depressed? What do you think are the best ways of dealing with loneliness? Are there any pleasant rituals or small tasks that help to keep you happy? Please join the conversation.

LEARN MORE

Loneliness is not a “normal” part of the aging process. Instead, it is a serious indicator that something important is missing from your life. It’s ok to feel lonely occasionally. Everyone does. But, when you feel lonely all the time, you need to take steps to get things back on track. Watch this interview to find out what you can do:

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