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5 Essential Skills for Overcoming Loneliness

So, you are starting over on a new path and you are killing it! You are happy, you are fulfilled and you are living the life you have always dreamed of living. But, no matter how much you keep telling yourself how great your new life is, you are lonely. Yep, there are times when you are crushingly lonely.

For me, as my marriage of more than 30 years ended, I began moving forward with a vengeance: I was never going to look back, I told myself, and, the truth is, I didn’t.

I didn’t romanticize my marriage in my head. But, the hard facts are that lots of the important family events had to be divided in two now: some with Mom and some with Dad. And, while I was prepared to share our adult children, there were times that it just brought me to my knees. I had to keep reminding myself that half of the holidays with my children now is hundreds of times better than the holidays of the past: Everyone was enjoying them but me back then.

I had to come up with ways to fight off the demons that sat on my shoulders and told me how much better my life was when I was married. So, I did just that – I fought them off.

I don’t mean to sound flip about how easy it is to forget the heartache of loneliness in the moment. But I am suggesting that if you try to be proactive and make plans to get you through the rough patches ahead of time, you will, at least, feel proud of yourself for not just letting loneliness run you over and flatten you like a pancake.

Make a Plan

The first time I was going to be alone on Christmas morning I could see it coming. I was not going to like it one bit. I knew I would be with my adult children the rest of Christmas day, but I dreaded waking up alone and having a big pity party.

So, I talked with a friend who was not busy until later in the day as well. We decided to go to a movie in the morning. It was great. I got up, I was happy. I was doing something that I love, going to a movie. And, when the movie was over, I would be coming home and having the rest of the day with the kids. By having a plan in place I was able to push through what could have been a disastrous morning.

Learn Something New

I am a pretty social person, and I do not like being alone when I think everyone else in the world is having fun without me. Where I live, college football is everything. I honestly don’t care one bit about the game itself, but I love the tailgating before. I have found that I get a little blue on those game days by myself.

Rather than sitting on the couch and feeling sorry for myself, I find that learning something new makes me feel proud of myself and productive in the moment. I have a running list of things I would like to learn more about, whether it is being better at social media or learning a new knitting stitch or figuring out how to put on false eyelashes. It makes me feel good to know that I moved the needle forward rather than boohooing. I always feel good learning new things.

Plan a Trip

Nothing, in my opinion, is more fun than planning a trip. It doesn’t need to be huge, just something that I can get excited about. The planning is the best part of the trip anyway so I can spend hours figuring out where and when to go, what to see and where to stay. It takes up a lot of time and entertains me.

I might plan a trip for myself or for me and my children, which makes the planning even more fun. We can communicate about what to do and where to go and it is just fun. If I am traveling alone, I keep in mind that maybe one day we might want to do this as a family.

No Commiserating

This is a hard-and-fast rule. Do not spend time with someone who is melancholy when you are already going down that sad sack rabbit hole. All that will do is bring you down more. It just isn’t a good idea anytime, and certainly not when you are feeling blue. Save that for another day.

Eat Ice Cream

This is the most important advice I can give any woman who is feeling lonely. Eat ice cream. Eat ice cream until you can’t move! The end. It is nature’s little anti-depressant and cures your woes.

Of course, I am kidding. Sadly, I ate ice cream every time I was lonely or sad in my marriage. I ate a lot of ice cream. Too much and I am paying the price. But, it got me through a lot of troubled times.

My point is, go easy on yourself. If treating yourself is what you need to help you move through a rough patch, have at it. Starting your life over at any age is not an easy task, and starting over a little later in life is that much more difficult.

Remember, your life is only going to get better when you take charge. I would love to hear any suggestions that have worked for you to get yourself through difficult times.  Share your strategies here and you might read some new ones from other readers. And, please, go to my website for more about starting over later in life.

What techniques do you use when you are feeling the heartache of loneliness? Do you have any rituals that always cheer you up when you are feeling lonely? What hard-and-fast rules do you follow around this process? Please share in the comments.

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The Author

After a 30-year marriage crumbled, Paula Harer found herself single for the first time in 35 years. She felt like she had something to say about her experience, so started writing a blog called Starting Over at Sixty She addresses everything from loneliness and reinvention and offers ways to create a new outlook on life.

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