Loneliness is not a sign that something is wrong with you, but rather a natural occurrence after having to walk away from the friends and behaviors associated with your addiction.
Socialization plays a crucial role in our physical and mental well-being. For those who are in recovery, a lack of socialization can lead to relapse.
It’s important to understand that there exists a significant difference between loneliness and being a natural loner. Being a loner refers to people who require time alone in order to regenerate and refresh. In this case, alone time is beneficial and necessary to their well-being. Loneliness is a state where one feels isolated from their immediate environment as well as the world at large. Loneliness makes a person feel like an outcast with no companions.
You don’t have to give in to your loneliness. There are many things you can do to combat loneliness and create a life worth living.
Grieving may seem counter intuitive, but it’s vital to recognize the loss of a lifestyle that had been home to you. It’s common to have a bit of an identity crisis after getting sober because you’ve also had to say goodbye to the person you were while using. Acknowledge this loss and grieve. Death is necessary to allow space for new life.
2. Share Your Feelings
Keeping your feelings bottled up will not help in your endeavor to feel better or to bond with others. Just expressing your feelings will allow you to release trapped emotions. Let a friend or family member know what you’re going through or spend some time writing in a journal.
3. Consider Therapy
Substance abuse is often rooted in traumatic experiences. Trauma can cause a fear of connection and a lack of trust. Therapy can be useful in locating the source. You will also have the opportunity to create a bond with your therapist, which can ease feelings of loneliness.
4. Find a Support Group
Attending a weekly 12-step group will allow you to meet others who are going through a similar experience. Many cities hold numerous support groups throughout the week, which can provide a solid foundation of social activity in a safe place.
5. Join a Club or Take a Class
Joining a book club or a spin class is a great way to get out and meet new people, while also contributing a healthy hobby to your lifestyle. Exercise increases endorphins, which can help increase your self-esteem. If you feel good, people will be more apt to approach you. It’s a win-win.
6. Avoid Excess Time Spent on Social Media
This is a tough one, because we like to think that social media is allowing us to connect with more people—even its name implies socialization. However, a study published in the American Journal for Preventative Medicine found that people who were on social media for two hours or more a day perceived themselves twice as socially isolated as those people who used social media for half an hour or less.
This doesn’t come as much of a surprise because posts on social media are showing a filtered version of how other people live. It’s almost impossible not to compare one’s life with others. If you’re new to sobriety, the gap between yourself and others will most likely feel overwhelming.
Instead of reaching for your phone, go for a bike ride or a walk. You don’t have to eliminate social media completely, but maybe try going a few days without it to see how you feel.
7. Find Something to Care for
If you have the desire and resources, consider getting an animal or even plant. By taking care of another life, you will realize the value in your own. Animals have a natural sensitivity to humans. If you are feeling down, it’s likely that your pet will notice. Of course, having a pet is a huge responsibility, and you shouldn’t get an animal without immense consideration.
8. Go into Nature
There’s something about getting away from it all and sitting in nature that can be immensely gratifying. Nature can help us see the beauty in solitude, rather than focusing on the absence of loneliness.
9. Make Amends
Making amends with the people who were affected by your substance abuse is a vital step toward feeling less lonely. Forgiving others is the key to forgiving yourself. If you are constantly carrying the weight of conflict, it will be near impossible clear space for others to enter your life.
10. Be Patient
You are getting to know yourself again. Honor this time and fill that space with positive influences. The rest will follow.