being lonely

I may be young, but there is one thing I’ve already discovered about myself: I like being alone but hate being lonely.

The two are not synonymous, but with the pressures of today’s society constantly making us feel like we need to be connected to the world and other people in order to not be alone, there can be a fine line between the two. Being alone and spending some quality time with yourself doesn’t mean you have to be lonely, in fact, it can have great benefits on your general health and state of mind.

1. Start off small

If you’re used to being around people all the time but want to learn to appreciate your own company, you can’t just dive straight in and isolate yourself from human contact for several days at a time. Start small. After a long day at the office, spend a couple of hours in your own company. Put down your smartphone, run yourself a hot bath and get out that book you’ve been meaning to start – or whatever it is that you feel makes you happy. Starting off by spending a couple of hours a week alone is a great way to ease yourself into it and once you start to appreciate your own company, you’ll be longing for the moments you get to yourself.

2. Don’t listen to other people

A lot of people feel as though they can’t spend time on their own because they get bored – they don’t know how to enjoy things for themselves without being around other people. It’s okay to say ‘no’ to others and decide what to do with your own time. Doing what you actually want to do, rather than what others think you should be doing is the first step to happiness.

3. Don’t force yourself

We all have days where we just need somebody else. Whether it’s a comforting hug, a long chat or just somebody to be around you, we all have those days. If you feel that way, isolating yourself and spending time alone may make you feel worse, and you may end up feeling lonely. If you start feeling this way, don’t force yourself to be alone. Ring your best friend, get your boyfriend to come over, or even just head to social media to speak to people. But remember, whilst this is okay on occasion, don’t let it become a habit – you should be relying on yourself, not other people for your own comfort or happiness.

4. Make it count

When I’m alone is one of the few times I get to focus on my own goals, wishes and future. Don’t waste your alone time – make lists, plans and goals for the future. Do things you can do without anybody holding you back. Go to the gym, start a new class or a blog – do something to improve yourself and fill your time with a hobby that is going to make you happy.

5. Enjoy it

Lastly, enjoy your time alone. Whether you’re sitting alone in a quiet space meditating or at a busy gym working on your fitness goals, you need to be enjoying yourself or it just isn’t worth it. After each session/day you spend alone, consider if it added anything to your life or if you spent your time in a valuable way. If you didn’t, change it.

It’s never too late to start enjoying your own company and making the most out of alone time. Just remember, being alone and being lonely are two different things, and if you follow these tips, you are likely to be on the right side of the line. But similarly, it’s okay to feel lonely every now and then. If you find yourself in that situation, ask yourself what you can do to change it and start putting plans in motion. You are in charge of your destiny and you are the only one who can change you. I’d love to know the things you like to do in your alone time, or the ideas you’ve had after reading this article.

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I'm a psychology student with a passion for books, good food and movies. I can often be found reading self-help articles snuggled up in bed with a cup of coffee or writing about anything and everything in a quiet cafe somewhere.