Whether it’s a temporary bout of melancholy or weathering through a protracted post-breakup slump, coping with loneliness can be a challenge. One may be the loneliest number, but there are ways to deal with solitude.
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“Loneliness is a social and emotional experience. When we are lonely, we can also feel sad, lethargic, and hopeless,” says Dr. Steven Jett, psychologist. By recognizing the condition, its triggers and some of the emotional sidekicks, you can better own it and move through it.
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Do talk to strangers
Research from the University of Chicago found that those who made a connection with strangers experienced a positive change in mood. Make a point of making small connections throughout the day, such as striking up a conversation with your barista to making small talk with you Uber driver.
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It’s a date
With more Canadians than ever living alone, the need for social interactions has become more pressing. Avoid being a shut in by being proactive when it comes to your social life and nurture and foster your relationships with family and friends. Text less and schedule more face-to-face friendship dates. Take charge of planning by organizing a brunch or booking tickets for a baseball game.
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Ward off wallowing in widowhood
According to Statistics Canada, women will most likely live longer and live alone for a considerable portion of their lives. Women live an average of 81.3 years compared to men at 75.3 years. Understanding that widowhood is a stage that will face more women than men, explore hobbies and interests, and continue to foster other relationships later in life.
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The element of surprise
“Be spontaneous and open to surprises,” says Dr. Steven Jett, psychologist. “Take action that offers a chance to live in an unfamiliar moment. Surprises can boost energy and change perspective, which is helpful in breaking the spell of loneliness.”
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There’s an app for that
Use something you most likely always have in your hand: your mobile device. There are several interactive and useful apps that can help you cope. Try Happify: Using science-based positive psychology it evaluates your mood and uses positive games and activities to give your mind a boost.
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Be a (temporary) cat lady
Do you get warm and fuzzy feelings after watching adorable videos of Lil Bub and Grumpy Cat? If so, there’s scientific proof to confirm your adorable reaction. A study found that these clips boost positive emotions while decreasing negative feelings. Purr-fect.
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Meditate on this
A recent report found that meditation has a positive effect on brain function, specifically with those suffering from loneliness and depression. If you’re a newbie, start with as little as 1 minute a day.
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BFF (Best Fido Forever)
The merits of pet ownership show the positive effect on people. A Saint Louis University study found that nursing home residents felt much less lonely after spending alone time with a dog.
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Don’t be sick and tired
The book, Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection by psychology professor John T. Cacioppo, PhD, lists the ailments - from high blood pressure to serious aging - that can be a result of solitude. Use this knowledge as motivation to start taking positive steps today.