… Choosing to Live alone without having to feel lonely.

Making more social contact through meeting other people is an important way to reduce the feelings of inner loneliness which we can all feel from time to time, and research shows that the more social support we have the less are the risks of unhealthy outcomes (whether or not we live alone).

If we are living alone, purposively creating and enjoying the social networks we want are essential for our wellbeing (for more see Stepping UP and Stepping Out) . However, periods of time spent alone and on our own can be also very rewarding for their own sake, the source of great personal satisfaction, and provide opportunities for much contentment and pleasure. Try some of these ideas:

1. Plan and make a special visit to somewhere you have always wanted to go to.

2. Cook yourself a special meal using a more complicated recipe than usual and celebrate making a special evening to enjoy on your own (The meal doesn’t need to include alcohol)!

3. Learn techniques like meditation or join a yoga class. Mindfulness practice and paying attention to your breathing, especially at the level of the tummy and watching your abdomen move with the breath can help your mind become less busy and frantic in just 5 to 10 minutes. Developing this practice over time the periods of feeling inner peace and tranquility will increase, regardless of whether you are on your own or with other people. To find a properly trained mindfulness teacher near you, go to http://mindfulnessteachersuk.org.uk/ – recommended organisations include http://www.breathworks-mindfulness.org.uk/

4. Cultivate qualities of loving kindness towards others, but especially towards yourself (this can feel quite strange to begin with – particularly if you are used to being self-critical!). Also bring to mind and practice absent healing for people you care about, and then the world in general. This is the easiest and most natural thing to do using your own breath to create waves of warmth radiating out from your heart, and relaxing and opening the heart increases your sense of connection with others regardless of whether or not you are on your own. “I am larger and better than I thought. I did not know I held so much goodness.” Try Jack Kornfield’s site for a safe and non-prescriptive approach  http://www.jackkornfield.com/2011/02/meditation-on-lovingkindness/ .

5. Keep a journal – take 20 to 30 minutes first thing in the morning to write down your thoughts and feelings, however jumbled or disorganised these may feel at the time. You may find that you begin to reframe living alone as a positive experience, and you can also begin to leave more of the difficult or negative feelings there on the page. This can help stop the habit of negative messages about loneliness or isolation dominating your life narrative, and continually running on and on in your mind. For more on ‘Words for Wellbeing’ visit http://www.lapidus.org.uk/ .

If you find that you are feeling lonely and miserable a lot of the time living on your own, you may not be depressed but it can be helpful to explore ways of breaking the negative cycle – check out Mind UK http://www.mind.org.uk/mental_health_a-z/7980_depression. Maybe it is also time for you to find a peer group meeting (including Men’s Groups). When you feel ready – ie you feel that there is enough safety in the group for you to speak – simply naming it can be a great source of relief, and help you let go of the lonely feelings. It can also be the beginning of intimacy with others, which actually can then support and reinforce positively your preference to live on your own.