Loneliness – Tip #458
No one tells you about the times you are going to feel utterly alone as a member of a military family (no one also tells you about the deep seeded resentment you will feel but that is a tip for another time!). It is hard going it alone during a deployment or any extended absence. Everyone in your life has their own lives too and can’t be around all the time nor would you want them to be. Having said that, you are going to experience loneliness whether you are alone or surrounded by people. While I don’t have a lot of time to feel lonely (and there are definitely times when I enjoy my alone time) it can also sneak up on you and leaving you feeling truly awful. After several deployments I think that I have learned to combat loneliness (most of the time). This doesn’t mean I don’t have a good cry or take some time to feel well and truly sorry for myself but I don’t let these be lasting moments. I feel it and then do something about it. Flying solo has also forced me to get comfortable with who I am as a person but you can only be with yourself and/or your children so much before you crave an interaction that doesn’t start with, “Can I…” or “Would you…”. Weekends seem to be hardest for me as I am usually too exhausted to have the drive or motivation to do much but also have so many obligations – driving kids to their activities or friends houses, cleaning, laundry, and grocery shopping, that I don’t have time to connect with people that aren’t living under my roof as much as I would like to.
* Acknowledge that you are lonely and try not to eat your loneliness away (it doesn’t work and you end up feeling worse – trust me… I am the master at eating feelings and whole bags of chips!). Talk to other people about how you feeling. They often have a brighter perspective and a good suggestion or two – they also don’t cause weight gain that can put you in a downward spiral.
* Make plans and actually do it no matter how tired you are. Have something to look forward to (ensure that they are plans that friends or family won’t let you bail out on).
* Read great books (great means anything that you can lose yourself in). A book doesn’t have boring commercials and you can get lost in it, escape from your own reality and forget about your own stresses and problems. It can also give you some much needed quiet time and perspective.
* Look at the things that you are doing that trigger feelings of loneliness and see what you can cut out or do differently. I had a family friend tell me that on days that she feels lonely she can’t sort out photos. If you know this, don’t do it. Wait for a time when you are in a better place.
* Think of things that make you happy and do one. Be selfish. Do something that brings you joy or happiness. I find that I often feel lonely because I am too caught up in making everyone else happy and missing having someone around who puts me first. Each week take a time out to put yourself first!
* Spend less time on Facebook and other social media sites and make real life connections with people. While it is easier to connect via Facebook, it is so much more fun and rejuvinating to actually meet with someone in person. I would challenge you to look at your Facebook account and then PM someone and make a plan to see them in person.
* Spend time actually tracking time of day, hours of sleep and your diet when you feel lonely. These can impact how you are feeling and may be easier to adjust than you would think.
None of the above suggestions will stop you from feeling lonely once and awhile but they can reduce the number and length of time!