Living Alone Again
Living Alone Again
Dear Tacit,

I am recently separated and I am finding it hard to get used to living alone again. Any suggestions for making the adjustment a bit easier?

Signed: Living Alone Again

Dear Living Alone Again,

Whether the decision to end your relationship was yours, the other person’s or a mutually agreed upon choice, it can be very difficult getting used to living as a single person again. It takes time to grieve your old life and routine; and to be able to find a new rhythm that works for the person you are becoming. Here are a few suggestions that might make the transition a bit smoother for you.

Establish a routine. Having the freedom to do whatever you wish, whenever you wish, might be fun in many ways. But too much freedom can often lead to disorganization and the neglect of some of the regular tasks that keep life running smoothly (like cleaning the house, running errands, paying bills, etc). Create a weekly schedule to ensure that these necessities get accomplished consistently, to prevent chaos and stress from building.

As part of this routine, make your bed every morning! It may seem like a little thing, but research has shown how powerful this task can be for good mental wellness. By kick starting your day with the success of this task, you are setting the tone for the next 12 hours. And the feeling of climbing into a neatly made bed at the end of a long day cannot be beat. It is a bookend of win/win accomplishments for your day!

Take time to reset. Create a sanctuary that you find relaxing and peaceful. Don’t rush to rebuild your life. For example, you do not need to buy everything you think you might want for your new home, all at once. Take the time to find perfect pieces that match your personality and style. It will save you money in the long run, and it will help you create a more “homey” feeling as you make the space an extension of who you are truly becoming, one purchase at a time.

Get used to your own company again. It is very possible (and quite healthy) to be alone without feeling lonely. Practice doing things by yourself. Go for a walk, read, watch a movie, sit on your deck and watch the clouds roll by. When possible, embrace the silence. Research shows that just one hour of quiet time each day replenishes your cognitive resources, relieves stress, and helps you problem-solve (Between Sessions Resources 2022).

Say “yes” more often. Take chances and try new things. Get out of the house more often. Join a club, take a course, attend a community event, or try a new sport. Explore the person you are becoming and give yourself a chance to learn about what you do (and don’t) want to include in this next stage of your life.

Connect more. It doesn’t matter if you lean more towards an introverted or extroverted nature, we all need to feel as though we belong with or matter to others. Invite friends over to your new place or make plans for a weekly lunch date at a favourite restaurant. Reach out and reconnect to relationships that might have taken more of a back seat while you were married. Or start building new friendships with people who share some common interests with you. Volunteer in some capacity, even if it is just once a month for an hour or two. Find ways to disrupt the isolation and aloneness that you are feeling.

And above all – allow your feelings. Breakups are difficult, so give yourself permission to feel yucky for a while. Sit in the discomfort of whatever emotions you are experiencing (pain, sadness, fear). Don’t try to distract yourself completely or those feelings will just end up being stuffed/buried deeper inside. Healing is a painful process. But you do not have to go through it alone. Lean on friends, find a counsellor to talk to, journal, join a support group of some kind. But be sure to find a way to connect to those emotions on an ongoing basis, so you can eventually work your way past them and into a healthier recovery stage.

Take care!

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