August 19, 2019 at 04:00PM by CWC
Eating almond butter right out of the jar without fearing judgement, never having to compromise on what to watch on Hulu, sleeping diagonally taking up the entire bed…there’s a lot to love about living alone. But it’s not uncommon to feel lonely from time-to-time either. Sometimes, it can feel a little too quiet—especially if you aren’t living alone by choice.
Jill Sylvester, LMHC, a mental health therapist and author of Trust Your Intuition: 100 Ways to Transform Anxiety and Depression For Stronger Mental Health, says that this is a common emotion may of her clients struggle with when living alone. But she also says there’s more in people’s control than they often realize. Here, Sylvester shares her best tips on how to live alone in a way that makes you feel absolutely fabulous and grateful—not lonely.
Scroll down for tips on how to live alone without feeling lonely.
1. Create morning and night routines you love.
When you live alone, there are often two prime times loneliness can peak: morning (when you’re lying in bed thinking of the whole day ahead) and evening (when you get home from work and aren’t quite sure how to fill your time). What helps in both instances, according to Sylvester, is having a routine. “This provides a structure so you know what’s coming and what to look forward to,” she says.
Sylvester encourages everyone—not just those who live alone—to spend time in the morning thinking about their purpose and what they’re looking forward to. “Having a sense of purpose is an excellent way to combat loneliness,” she says. For example, perhaps you decide part of your morning routine is savoring a cup of matcha while you spend 15 minutes journaling before the work day starts.
For an evening routine, you might decide to make a routine of listening to a different podcast every night while you cook dinner. The time is yours to play with and craft. “Solitude is different than loneliness, and having solitary activities you enjoy as part of your routine provides something to look forward to,” Sylvester says.
2. Limit the time you spend on social media.
Nothing feels worse than being home alone and scrolling though Instagram seeing other people seemingly out there living their best lives, which is why Sylvester says to put a time limit on the amount of time spent on social media. “If you’re feeling sad, grumpy, or agitated, that’s not a good time to go on social media at all,” she adds. Instead, she says to either do something you love solo or actually pick up the phone and connect with someone you care about. Which is also related to her next tip…
3. Connect with others IRL throughout the week.
Sylvester emphasizes that everyone needs connection and one of the great perks of living alone is that you get to fill your time with exactly how you—and you alone—want to fill it. Her advice: Plan meet-ups and phone calls with people you care about so you’re getting your fill of human interaction, the antithesis to loneliness.
“Or, something else you can plan is time just to go to a cafe and read, go to a workout class, or something else where you’re actually around other people, even if you’re not necessarily talking to them,” she says. That way, you can still feel connected to others, even if you aren’t necessarily in the mood to be social.
4. Focus on what you have, not what you don’t have.
In order to get out of that “grass is always greener” mindset and think all your coupled-up friends are happier than you are, Sylvester says it helps to focus on what you have, not what you’re missing. “Part of this is training your mind to think this way,” she says.
If, for you, gratitude has always sounded nice in theory but not-so easy in practice, Sylvester suggests making a habit of writing down ten things you’re grateful for every day, especially related to living alone. “You might be thankful that you can keep a clean house, that you don’t have to share the bathroom, or that the den is decorated exactly how you like,” she says. “If you’re someone who tends to look at the glass half empty, know that change doesn’t happen overnight, but stick with it and you can train your brain to think differently,” she says.
Regardless of your living situation, seeing your own life through rose-tinted glasses is bound to make you appreciate it more. And it always helps to remember that it doesn’t mean you’re lonely when you’re alone. (Cue the Kelly Clarkson.)
BTW, loneliness isn’t necessarily connected to your romantic status. If you are in a relationship and feeling lonely, this may be why.