How To Alleviate The Anxiety Of Being Alone With Mental Illness
Being left alone for prolonged periods of time can be stressful for most people, regardless of whether or not they suffer from mental illness. It can be especially stressful for those who suffer from anxiety, depression or more serious mental disorders.
It varies among every individual, but I often find myself plagued with anxiety and vast amounts of uncertainty on a daily basis from simply being by myself. I fear that when someone doesn't text me back fast enough, they must not care for me, or if someone says no when I try to make plans I build up irrational thoughts of abandonment and rejection.
When the initial fear from being alone begins to set in, it can feel inescapable. Although this is an inevitable symptom of mental illness, there are a few techniques that I found to be extremely helpful as ways to alleviate sadness and to discourage stressors from taking control.
If you're looking to begin your journey toward better mental health, this is a good place to start.
1. The Repetition Technique
This is a technique that I learned not only from my licensed psychotherapist, but from my older sister during the many different times she attempted to comfort me while I was in the midst of a severe mood swing or panic attack. This technique consists of focusing on a single comforting thought when you begin to feel panicked by being alone.
For example, if you are feeling uneasy because a friend or loved one hasn't yet responded to a text message or phone call, repeat to yourself "they care" or “[this person] loves me." This helps to combat the irrational thoughts that are causing your anxiety.
The entire idea behind this is to repeat facts, or the things that you know to be true rather than letting yourself obsess over negative opinions and ideas of yourself. Stopping the cycle of negative and obsessive thought by repeating only the things you know to be true helps to bring you back to reality. Once you focus on reality it is then easier to understand that many of these emotions you are feeling are caused by irrational thoughts that are simply based on assumptions.
Forcing yourself to focus on the present moment for what it is lets you slowly become more aware of when you begin to over-analyze a situation for something that it is not. This is a great immediate stress reliever and the more regularly you practice it, the better control you will begin to have over your psyche.
2. Putting Yourself First Fights Anxiety
This seems like a simple and kind of repetitious concept in nature, but in action it really does work. I'm sure you've heard it before that you need to focus on your own happiness and need to avoid "giving to others from an empty cup," but there's a lot of truth to it.
It is a common misconception that putting yourself first is somehow selfish. It's your life after all, and in order to maintain healthy and consistent relationships with others it is necessary to love and care for yourself first and foremost.
For example, one of the best ways to achieve some instant anxiety relief or gratification is to go shopping. Go out and buy some new clothes, or reward yourself with something that you've had your eye on for awhile. They don't call it retail therapy for nothing!
A second thing that can ensure your well-being is your number one priority is to cut out negative people from your life. Often times, those who experience depression or mental illness are less likely to kick negative people out of their lives because they don't necessarily feel like they deserve better.
No one deserves to be treated poorly by those around them, and having "friends" that never try to make plans or consistently ignore your calls don't deserve a place in your life.
How does this relate to feeling better when you're alone? Well, once you get through the immediate withdrawal pains of cutting off contact with close friends, you will notice a positive change in the way you feel. The fewer negligent people you surround yourself with, the more comfortable you will feel by yourself.
Kicking these types of people out of your life is a brave step, but only makes you stronger in the long run. You will boost your own self-esteem. In other words, don't be afraid to admit that you deserve better.
The last and what I would say the most important step in this whole process is to begin to understand yourself a bit better. Everything I have shown you so far ties into this in one way or another.
Finding your own sense of personal truth is essential to be satisfied at an individual level (my inner existentialist speaking). You have to be willing to spend some more time alone in order to advance yourself in this way.
This doesn't have to happen overnight of course; as similar to most things in life, change takes some time in order to happen in a productive way.
An idea of what to do with your newly found free-time is to explore your creative potential: paint, make music, up-cycle old materials into something useful. You can take up a new hobby, read new books and spend a lot of time simply thinking in solitude.
Get to know your own thought processes and if there are things that you want to change about yourself at this point in your life, there is no better time to start that journey than now. You must take this time to more thoroughly understand your weaknesses, as well as utilize and explore your strengths.
Disclaimer: This article represents the perspective of the author and does not reflect the official position of Elite Daily. Talk to your doctor if you are concerned with your mental health.