Mondays are getting a bad reputation with many people dreading the start of a new week of work, college or school foreboding stressful and busy days. If I was honest, though, I’d have to admit Mondays are some of my favourites. At least right now that I’m still funemployed [thanks, Davida!] and the weekends aren’t a time needed to rejuvenate. In fact, they can feel quite lonely unless I’m spending them at my parents or my friends are in the city. Just this past weekend was an example of such a weekend I would normally try to mask by finding the itty bits of brightness in it not admitting to being all alone.
Although I’m not a native speaker I feel there’s a difference betwee being alone and lonely. Alone is the physical state of being on our own. But lonely is the feeling we experience when we let being alone influence our happiness. It was only this past weekend that I felt okay about being alone for the first time in a long while. After the weekends at my parents’ place I let loneliness into my mind. Most of my friends from university have moved either back home for the moment [if they don't have a job yet] or to different cities for work. So yes, it can get way too easy for me to let myself wallow in lonely thoughts.
Even when we are physically alone loneliness and the unpleasant feelings coming with it aren’t happening unless we let them. I’m not pretending I was immune to this feeling. There are still days when I’m grieving, feeling uncomfortable with myself and letting solitude weigh heavily on my mind. But the past weekend was a great example of actively working against the sulkiness of solitude seeping in. At first I wasn’t even trying. Instead, my brain apparently had found its own way of making things happen.
Not getting into all the details but Saturday started with me deciding to just quickly drop off some books at the library and returning home again. Yet after I’d done it my feet just kept going, leading me into the city for some errands and some more walking around – and before I knew it three hours had passed. Three hours in which I hadn’t once pitied myself. Once home I prepared a nice lunch, ate and then spend a good time reading in bed. All rounded out by a nice run and watching part of [yes, I know ... my attention span ...] a movie. Sunday was spent in an even more productive fashion and a lot of outdoor activity enjoying a cold but gorgeous fall day. What I learned from this weekend were some key point for enjoying me time instead of letting it become unpleasant loneliness.
1. Be prepared: If you know you’ll be encountering a day or weekend of being alone prepare yourself. Mentally in terms of telling yourself that it’s not forever but also physically by having a good book or movie at hand. Seeking out activities you know you’ll enjoy on your own, too. Maybe there’a a fitness/creativity/cooking/… class you could attend? A movie you’ve been meaing to watch in cinema that none of your friends wanted to come along to see?
2. Pamper yourself: Even if it’s ‘just’ at home treat yourself to a manicure, take a long bath, sleep in – do anything that makes you feel good about yourself. Light a candle, put on your favourite scent and declare it a mental health and self-care day.
3. Run away from loneliness: Metaphorically speaking loneliness is like a nasty beast trying to catch you off guard [why, yes, my brain works in a figurative way at times] and make you feel down. While you don’t need to do any strenous workouts or run miles upon miles a long walk can be quite calming. Anything that gets you out of your apartment and away from the feeling of isolation. Just being around others – even if you don’t know or talk to them – can be a nice change. Or plug in your iPod, listen to some good tunes and walk out those worries and sadness. It’s amazing what a bit of fresh air and a change of scenery can do.
4. Write it down: Whether you use a diary, turn your feelings into a blog post or – a recent favourite of mine – write a letter: be creative and make good use of the time you have on hand. The letters I’ve written this weekend didn’t even revolve around my loneliness but I just used them as a way of letting my thoughts divert away from those negative feelings. Busying my mind with happy thoughts didn’t leave much [or any] space for negativity.
5. Decide to see the benefits: While I’d still prefer most of my weekends to be busy and filled with activites it’s simply not always happening. And if you know how to make the best of this me time it can be quite beneficial. Being alone allows you to reflect. See and hear things you might blind out when with others. The opportunity to be selfish without hurting anybody’s feelings. No need to hurry when you’d like to spend some more time in bed or trying on clothes at the mall without anybody getting annoyed and dragging you to go.
Once more it is really about the attitude we have towards a certain situation. When we are alone for too long it definitely gets hard to bear. But if it’s a day or two we can still have a pretty marvelous time without feeling lonely.
Happiness inducing today: Spending the largest part of the day outside soaking up the October sun.
How do you deal with weekends spent on your own?
What are your favourite “me time” activities?
And some random curiosity:
1) current book?
2) favourite scented candle [mine are the Vanilla ice cream (!!!) scented ones from IKEA]