Summer can be the loneliest of times – here’s how to stop feeling lonely
01st Aug 2022
Summer can be the loneliest of times – here are some tips to stop feeling lonely when everyone else seems busy with loved ones.
There was a time when I really dreaded these summer months of July and August. Watching as everyone planned and spoke excitedly about taking a break, getting away from it all and spending precious time with their families. I didn’t just dread it, I hated it. I found myself really resenting all these conversations, so I avoided them. And don’t get me started on the obligatory holiday snaps, they are rarely interesting, but at that period of my life they were like a red rag to a bull. I was the bull!
To provide context, this coincided with a time in my life when I was feeling more than a little lost. I’d just lost my fiancé, my dad and my mum all in a short period of time, and so my family unit as I knew it was gone. I definitely don’t mean to imply that another time of the year would have made this easier to live with, it wouldn’t, but these times were especially hard.
What was missing from my life was further accentuated by looking at what others had. The grief had made it impossible to witness others spending time with their loved ones and left me feeling rather bitter and resentful. That’s not easy to admit to.
When we think of people being lonely, I think it’s something we tend to associate more with Christmas time. If anyone, we know has experienced loss of any kind, we’re more sensitive at this time of year and try our best to ensure that we cater for their loneliness.
But have you considered that this time of year, summertime, can be just as challenging for some people?
It has just as much potential to put that same spotlight on that sense of isolation that comes from being lonely and on your own. Some of my own clients in my practice, have even expressed relief that during the pandemic that there was much less questioning of ‘where are you going this summer’ for that very reason. Loneliness, like puppies, is not just at Christmas!
We know of course that it has never been easier for us to stay connected, technology has made it so. Yet why then do so many of us feel so disconnected and worse still, feel embarrassed to say it out loud? When you imagine who the word loneliness best represents, I’m guessing you most likely imagine an elderly person living alone, with little or no family. And yes, while old age can be a very lonely and isolating time, the fact is, loneliness can and often will affect us all now at any given stage of our lives. The pandemic has proven that to us, but beyond that there are examples everywhere, some right in front of you hiding in plain sight. Who might be lonely?
Actually, anyone. It could be the person whose marriage is falling apart, the woman whose partner is straying, the single 30-something now having to work from home and missing their support systems, the bereaved partner, the friend who is the last to find a life partner, the student having just moved to a new city, the new mother who feels incredibly disconnected from her former life, the parent left at home experiencing real empty nest syndrome or the child who is left caring for elderly parents. It could be anyone in your circle right now and the thing is you might not even know.
You can be an influencer on Instagram with a large following, a leader in your organisation or business, or be part of a large family and still experience loneliness. Please don’t forget that. Don’t be fooled by the external front. Find time to check in and ask those close to you ‘how are you, really?’ and don’t be tempted to accept their first answer at face value. Probe if you must, but let them know that you are always there if they need, or would like to, talk.
Friendships have become more chaotic, people are busier and on the move more. We find ourselves resorting to technology to check in, but a WhatsApp message is not fertile ground for someone to share with you that they are feeling a little down. Go for the walk, grab the coffee – it doesn’t have to be a massive time investment as long as it’s a meaningful one. Give them the gift of your time.
How to stop feeling lonely
1. Develop a love of time on your own.
At first this might appear like the very last thing you need but learning how to get more comfortable with being alone enables you to get to know yourself better and to build your own confidence and self-belief. Do things that lift you up – sea swimming, gardening, music, writing, whatever that is for you. Being on your own affords freedom and space to be who it is you really are. No pretence just you.
2. Journal. Then journal some more.
No surprises that I include this here, but when we share our thoughts, frustrations, and deep desires on paper, our body reacts just the same as if we’ve said it out loud to a friend. Showing yourself some love like this, has the added benefit that when the time comes and you are around people again, you will exude a confidence in showing how you expect to be treated simply by how you are treating yourself.
Spending time on your own allows you to reconnect with yourself, with who you are and who you want to become. When you feel you’ve achieved this, then consider getting involved in your community. Don’t always wait to see what others can do for you but start with something you can do for others. Volunteer to do something that will help you understand what it’s like to give back.
4. Go outside.
Research has proven that those who spend more time outside in nature are less lonely. Feed off the energy you get from green spaces or being by the sea. Feel the earth under your bare feet, watch the sunrise, and not alone will this mean you’ll be spending less time on your phone, you will genuinely experience the natural rush we get from nature.
There are things you can do to alleviate your own loneliness but always remember that supporting others in theirs will always feel like the right thing to do. Because it is.
Niamh Ennis is Ireland’s leading Transformation Coach, Author and Coach for the IMAGE Business Club. She’s known for her practical solutions to life’s challenges and her ability to tell you not what you want to hear but always what you need. She best represents Strategy meets Spirituality and has just launched THE CHANGE ACCELERATOR her Self-Study Online Programme for those looking to make real changes. Find her on Instagram @1niamhennis or niamhennis.com.