We live in a society where being social and spending time with friends is heavily emphasized. Thus, we have created a culture in which people are reluctant to spend time away from others in fear of the negative social stigma. No one wants to be labeled as a "loner" or "loser" for spending time alone. However, alone time is crucial for personal growth, reflection and a chance to explore your own identity away from societal pressures and outside influences. College is a period of rapid changes, including new surroundings and friendships; there are bound to be moments when you will feel alone. It is important to embrace these moments and use them as an opportunity for self-care. If you have a fear of or struggle with being alone, here are some tips to help ease those anxieties!
1. Try eating alone
One of the hardest moments of being alone is when it is time to eat. In college, most students will eat in dining halls with their own groups of friends. Although it may seem like a daunting task, try to have a meal by yourself. You might worry that other students around you will look at you strangely and think you have no friends, but fear not! Eating alone is more common than people like to think, and most of the time others are too busy thinking of their own problems and life to judge you. Eating alone is a perfect opportunity to reflect on the day and collect your thoughts. Instead of trying to balance contributing to a conversation while simultaneously scarfing down your meal, eating by yourself allows you to relax and savor your food. It will be difficult at first, but once you settle down and adjust to the peace and quiet, your mind and body will thank you!
If even the thought of eating by yourself or doing anything else alone makes you anxious, it might be a good idea to start journaling. Whenever you're alone and feel the rush of panic, pull out your journal and start writing how you feel in the moment. Journaling is the tried-and-true method of managing stress, and writing down your anxieties and stressors can help calm you down. There are no rules or formulas for journaling, let your mind and heart wander and just record whatever comes to you. Writing how you feel can help you focus on your problems perhaps can help you find the root of your fears and issues.
3. Adopt mindfulness techniques
Almost everyone has heard of the countless benefits that mindfulness techniques can bring. And they're true! Practicing mindfulness techniques can reduce anxiety stress almost instantaneously. Best of all, they're super simple and be done anywhere. If you're in your dorm alone and start to feel anxious and afraid, you can immediately pull up a YouTube video, a how-to-guide or download an app that can lead you through mindfulness techniques, most of which involve closing your eyes and breathing in deeply and steadily to maintain a constant heart rate. Many of the exercises also help clear your mind and steer you away from dark and looming thoughts. A lot of colleges offer mindfulness classes for their students, so look out for those.
4. Find a hobby that you like doing alone
Many times when you're alone, the anxiety and panic can creep up when there is nothing else for you to focus on or let your mind concentrate on. Try finding a hobby that you can enjoy in solitary that will help you realize that being alone can indeed be enjoyable. Crocheting and knitting are popular hobbies and are quite easy to pick up. Painting or practicing a musical instrument are also excellent activities that can help you grow as a person and perhaps might develop into a new passion. The possibilities for hobbies are endless, and you can definitely explore as many as you like. As long as it brings joy, then it is worth pursuing!
5. Listen to podcasts
Podcasts have this magical way of making you feel less alone when you're actually alone, as if you are sitting in on the conversation in real life. It is also a great way to learn new things. There are thousands, maybe even millions, or podcasts available that cover almost every topic under the sun. Whether you enjoy true crime stories, health tips or anything else, there is a podcast out there for you. If you're doing laundry by yourself and don't like the thought of walking alone, turn on a podcast and let yourself focus on it. If you want podcast recommendations, check out this article!
6. Seek counseling
If you've tried all these techniques and still struggle to manage your fear of being alone, it is best to seek counseling. Your college should have robust counseling services to help you find a professional that can help you work with your anxiety. Being afraid of being alone is a common issue that millions struggle with every day. You are not alone.
Regardless of what techniques or path you take to help overcome the fear of being alone, recognize that identifying the issue and committing to fix it is the biggest hurdle to cross. It is not a problem that can be fixed in days, or even years sometimes, but with determination and a solid support system, you can do it!
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