- One unfortunate result of splitting from your significant other is feeling lonely—you’re used to putting all of this time and effort into another, but now you have that time and effort at your disposal.
- Look at this newfound time and energy in a positive light: dedicate it to healthy, enjoyable activities like hanging out with friends, reading a good book, or exercising.
- Engaging in such activities will help to lift you out of that funk and fill that empty void, but you can resolve your feelings of loneliness more permanently.
- Fight off loneliness for good by learning to prioritize yourself; in relationships, we tend to focus on the other individual, but it’s important to cater to our own needs too.
- Get into the habit of asking yourself if you’re fulfilling your needs—whether you’re in a relationship or not.
Loneliness, something most of us would like to avoid if we could. But, there are times where life truly gives us sour lemons after having a rough experience: breakups. Some breakups are mutual, others might end in disagreement, but one commonality that is likely to occur is loneliness.
Fill That Newly Empty Void
You’ve spend countless hours with this one person for however long and now you may be in a situation where you now have a substantial amount of free time. So now what? What can one do if he or she feels stuck in this situation and is tired of it? Here’s a short list of some practical ways to fill this new empty void:
- Take a walk and admire the beauty of the day
- Watch your favorite movie or TV show
- Read a good book while drinking a favorite beverage
- Spend time with family or friends who support you
- Pray and/or tap into your spiritual side
- Do something creative (e.g., origami, complete a puzzle, paint, etc.)
- Join a local softball team or other sporting leagues
- Exercise at a park around nature or at a gym around people
Now, these are good ways to temporarily break out of a lonely funk whether it’s being around other people or getting out of your head, but what if we were to try at least one more thing that could perhaps make things more permanent?
Fight Loneliness For Good
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in researching couples, and practicing this one thing in my very own relationship, it’s that most relationships are not about two people, they are about three
- One person
- The other person
- The relationship
Yes, the third entity is actually the relationship itself. So what does all this mean? Understanding there are three pieces to this madness is helpful because it’s a reminder that each part needs to be taken care of responsibly. Most of us focus on our significant other and their needs, and we think if we fulfill their needs then the relationship will do well on its own. Because of this belief, one of the most important aspects of this triad is missing and contributes to loneliness: it’s you.
When was the last time you’ve said to yourself, “I need to take care of myself first so that I’m well and healthy enough to provide positive and proactive aspects to my relationships.” A mouthful, yes, but it’s not very likely we say something like this to ourselves as often as we deserve.
Whether you are going through a breakup, are currently single or feel that it’s complicated right now, remember to take care of yourself regardless of relationship status. Shifting one’s mindset to focus on yourself in the midst of a relationship can be hard because we seem to put so much emphasis on making sure our partner is happy and fulfilled But, your happiness and satisfaction are important, if not more important, too.
It All Comes Full Circle
So ask yourself if you are truly taking the time to do things that you would like to do. Ask yourself if your feelings are being validated as often as they should. And ask yourself when was the last time you took yourself out on a date. Yes, taking yourself out has to be one of the most powerful and seemingly ridiculous ideas to battle loneliness, but you’ll never know until you try. Sometimes, it takes spending time with yourself to understand what you value and what it is you might need from others.
To sum it up, battling loneliness is a task all on its own, but we can prepare now by asking ourselves if we are taking time in performing activities we enjoy whether we are in a relationship or not. So next time you find yourself jumping into a relationship, just remember, it’s great you are taking care of your partner and the relationship in general, but it should be a requirement to also take care of yourself, first.
You are one of the most important tools to your own mental wellness, especially if you’re battling feelings of loneliness. With enough practice of doing things intentionally for your own wellbeing, your brain may relearn what it’s like to feel whole again.
*Jacob Kountz is a marriage and family therapist trainee and clinic manager of a CSU in California. He has experience in family therapy training, parent-child relationships, couples therapy, social skills for highly anxious clients, depressed clients, and disconnection between family members. Additionally, he runs a mental health blog called KernWellnessCounseling.*
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