Can we be honest? Motherhood, for all its wonder and great joy, can be isolating at times. Surrounded by people we love and their beautiful bedlam, but yet we still feel disconnected. I got that old familiar feeling recently. My kids were sick and suddenly my world closed up. And there it was, hanging over me like a heavy wet blanket: Loneliness.
“Ugh…I’m so lonely right now,” I kept muttering under my breath.
The feeling stayed for some time. Try as I could to shake it off, it weighed on me. Like a bitter friend.
What do we do with those pangs of loneliness that jab at us? Loneliness can be a real drag. Yet, it can also be a wonderful tool for growth.
In the past, I would either allow myself to fall into pits of melancholy or just fill my life with distractions as a way to feel better. Nowadays, I try not to waste precious energy wallowing in or running away from bad feelings. I expect this to be a continual work in my life.
Here are some things I do when I am lonely:
I Acknowledge – Is there any benefit in minimizing or denying what I am feeling? No. So, I call it out. I admit what is there and I allow myself to feel its discomfort, rather than covering it up with busyness and noise.
I Accept – I am learning to radically accept the feelings of loneliness. Those times when I accept it, I tend to take better care of myself.
I Adjust – A shift in the way I perceive my life and circumstances often helps me to overcome the pangs of loneliness. For me, turning down social media, news, and even the ruminations of my own heart help me look beyond myself to see the things that cultivate joy, gratitude, and hope.
I Advocate – Becoming part of the solution to the problems that others face can be a balm to the pain of loneliness. When I touch someone else’s life with love and support, I share in the beauty of community. I feel less lonely when lifting the burdens of others.
I Attach – One good antidote for loneliness is connecting with the people I love and who love me. My kids were quite needy for snuggles and 1-on-1 mommy time while they were sick. I used the time to tend to their medical needs and connect with their hearts. Doing this changed our home from a sick space to a healing place. I didn’t feel as lonely when spent more time with my children.
Reaching out and connecting to a trusted friend, an understanding relative, or a nice neighbor can take the edge off loneliness. Hey moms, let’s rally around each other! We don’t need to walk through hard things alone.
I Address – Loneliness was recognized as a public health challenge long before the pandemic. It impacts people of all ages, and the trends show that younger generations are suffering the most. Long-standing and deep feelings of loneliness can be damaging to a person’s overall well-being.
As such, there are times when seeking professional help is in order.
Connect with mental health, spiritual, and medical care providers to work through feelings of loneliness that don’t lift and that interfere with daily functioning over a longer time. No shame in seeking proper help when you need it. For me, finding such help when I needed it was transformative.
Resources and support for people struggling with loneliness:
CDC, Loneliness | How Right Now – https://www.cdc.gov/howrightnow/emotion/loneliness/index.html
National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) – https://www.nami.org/Support-Education/Mental-Health-Education