Changing job, moving to a new area, death of loved ones, all these things can bring loneliness in their wake particularly on Sundays and at Christmas when families and/or old friends tend to meet up, or churchgoers go to church etc.
I think that loneliness has almost become a ‘social stigma’ something best not discussed, it implies that one doesn’t have the capacity to make friends. Nonsense, most people have at least one or two friends but one can’t be with them all the time and research also indicates that soon it will be the norm for many of us to live alone which may or may not bring feelings of isolation.
I know a bit about being lonely particularly on Sundays. When I was as an adolescent I toured in the theatre. I often traveled alone on Sundays to be part of a new show. Later in life as a single parent I often felt lonely when the ’empty nest syndrome’ kicked in.
Now I have a partner, a grown up family and things are different. But nevertheless three old friends died last year and even more the year before and making new friends in a new area takes time. An Aussie friend once told me that when people moved to Australia it often took two years to find the sort of people one might want to make friends with.
So for my ‘tuppence worth’ as my old granny used to say:
- Have something special for the bath or shower, so you can take pleasure in the smell, warm water, feeling refreshed.
- Wash your hair, massage your scalp as you do so.
- On Christmas day put a few baubles in the window to cheer yourself along but also for people passing by.
- Plant some bulbs or a shrub in the garden, growing things is very therapeutic.
- Plan to wear something you like, a colour that renews the spirit.
- Buy enjoyable meals – or the ingredients for same, plan to prepare and eat them at intervals preferably near a window where you can watch the world go by. Scrambled eggs on toast for breakfast?
- Find out CDs of your favourite music
- Get the ‘Radio Times’ and decide what would be good to watch – mark with a pen in advance rather than resorting to wall to wall TV. But if the latter option makes you feel you are in good company, go for it.
- Keep warm – if you are hard up, get yourself a soft throw to curl up in, the kind of hot water bottle that warms up in the microwave.
- Keep your Serotonin levels high, wrap up warm and go for a walk.
- If you feel brave enough, have a glass of wine or a coffee on your own in a local pub, if you look around you may be surprised to find there are other people on their own doing the same.
- Get to the library before Christmas and choose a book you have enjoyed in the past or a book you would not usually read.
- Clear out a cupboard and feel virtuous.
- Fill a black bag full of things you don’t need for the charity shop.
- Brainstorm – which means you draw a ring in the centre of a sheet of paper and draw lines coming out from it like a sun, on each line put all the positive things that happened from the last week.
- Buy some wool and needles, plan to knit a scarf in the day.
- Spend time doing your nails.
- Think of something you would like to learn, see if there is a free lesson on youtube.
- Buy some gold stars and write down every single minor achievement this past year.
- Write a poem, a story, start a memoir.
- Feed the birds or stroke a cat or hug a teddy bear.
- Consider trying a new recipe for the evening meal, something you would not usually bother with – just for yourself. Lay the table, flowers, pour a glass of your favourite Appletise or if you are OK with alcohol, a glass of wine.
- Check your TV choices, or find a film on youtube.
- Wind down, with some more music, a warm night-time drink.
- Congratulate yourself for being so resourceful. Christmas is a sad time for many people, it’s unreasonable to expect all and everyone to be jolly all day. Give yourself permission to meditate, have a nap, consider inviting someone over, just for a coffee or tea and cake in the afternoon. Or, if you feel really energetic, donate some time to a Christmas appeal and find a group who need a hand.
- Happy Sundays – Happy Christmas