During the month of December we were busy with family and others, and have less time than usual to ourselves. We are aware that many people have the before-Christmas blues, remembering times past and coping with unfufilled dreams. But there is also the let down after the holidays that may affect some people.
They feel lonely with more time alone, fewer phone calls, darker and shorter days, and Spring holidays months away. These people ordinarily have difficulty being alone, and yet do not reach out to others, so they suffer in silence watching hours of television. We are not talking about chronic depression here, just that feeling of nothing to do now that the holidays are over, and you are alone in the house again. If this fits you at this time of the year, read on.
Loneliness can be cured if you will just change your focus of thinking. We like to tell people to learn to like being alone some of the time. Did you know that the most creative people do their best work alone? So, the house is quiet, now start to make a list of things you’ve always wanted to know or learn.
Remember, no resolution lists that are sure to fail! Baby steps to change are the ones that actually modify us. So, you’ve wanted to lower your glucose levels and need to learn more about diabetes. Go for it. Make a list of where to get information outside of your house so that you need to talk face-to-face, not just to a machine. Ask your diabetes educator to direct you to a local diabetes support group or educational forum. You want to learn to cook.
Look up local cooking classes (ones that promise low-fat or healthy cooking) and enroll in one, or take a class in weaving or quilting. Take a class in American literature or join a book club, plan a trip to someplace you’ve thought of going, learn a new hobby — just take that first step to be with others who share your interests. If you are not working, think about a part time job. If you are working, look to your peers for conversation, coffee, movie on Thursday night, or just lunch together.
Next, join a gym and go regularly. Why? First of all you’ll make natural endorphins which will raise your mood; but even better than that, you’ll be part of a group. If you’re the eldest, others will cheer you on, and if you’re the youngest, the oldsters will look after you. Mostly, you’ll feel better out of the house, and helping yourself to care for your diabetes. Coffee with new acquaintances is, as Martha Stewart says, “a good thing.”
Learn to listen to others when they talk to you. Many shy people are so concerned about what they will say next that they fail to listen to the person with whom they are talking. The key word here is “listen.” The conversation will not drag; it will be two sided, and you will have the opportunity to make a new acquaintance who may one day become a friend. It takes a friend to make a friend.
Think about how put out you are when someone doesn’t seem to hear you when you speak. Make a mental short list about what it means to you to be a friend. Remember just one thing about a new acquaintance so that the next time you see them you can begin by asking about that interest. This will take the edge off of what to say. Then step by step, you will become a good listener and have an easier time meeting people.
Don’t expect miracles. People don’t change overnight, but they do change with practice. Learn to talk to people when you are out shopping; call a friend; volunteer; start a book, investment, or travel club or join one; and see how much you look forward to getting together with others. Treat yourself to enjoying life. It will help you control any chronic illness you have and it’s here for the grabbing.
The more you practice being with others and yourself, the less lonely you will become. Also, the more you feel you are accomplishing, the better you’ll feel about taking the next baby step you have on your list. It’s January, the first month of the new year, and you do not have to feel alone when your family leaves. Now give yourself the most precious presents of contentment and friendship.