In this connected world…

… how comes the number of people who feel lonely is growing?

And at times me being one of those people!! Now I’m not looking for sympathy as I’ve chosen my life and in the most parts, I’m really happy as I’m beholden to no-one but every so often I do get pangs of loneliness!!

In doing research for this blog all the stats and information about loneliness is mainly focused on the older generation and it would also seem that there are many projects to help with this issue. But about people like me?!?

I then came across this infographic from Office of National Statistics which actually shows that it’s middle-aged people who are feeling lonely more than the older generation.

So I’ll share with you my situation!! I’m currently single, I live on my own and I run my own business from home, all my family live hundreds of miles away, I have a great circle of friends however most have partners and/or have children and busy lives…

Often when I’ve mentioned to people about feeling lonely, I’m often told that just because you are in a relationship you don’t get lonely & I totally get that but this is often said by someone in a relationship or the other response is well you can always call or message me, which is lovely but I feel like I might call at a difficult time!!

I get out and about quite a lot with my business and am part of a CrossFit community, I know in recent years I’ve not been out much socially due to financial constraints which have made it harder to keep the loneliness at bay but my door is always open for visitors & tea guest!! I’ll happily cook tea for anyone if it means not spending another evening on my own!! Don’t all shout at once…

Its just the little things that hit you hard really, I’m not Bridget Jones crying into my Chardonnay every night but there are tearful moments, a good example of this was last week I spoke at a conference, it was a big deal for me, it went really well and when I got home it would have lovely to share my day with someone & have a glass of wine and celebrate. Or when I organised a BBQ over a weekend and one by one all the people invited contacted me to say they couldn’t make it and they all had valid reasons and I wasn’t angry with any of them but then it left me spending a weekend on my own!!

It’s having someone to give you hug when you’ve had a rubbish day or to make you a cup of tea when you’re working hard and don’t have time to stop or cook you tea when you are too tired to do it yourself.

I’ve often felt like a spare part when at social events when everyone else is paired up, even if it’s with their best friend rather than a partner and I just feel like the odd one out!!

This leaves me wondering, is it me? is there something wrong with me?

But it’s not just about being single, it’s feeling that you are invisible unless you shout up, I do my best to stay in contact with friends and when possible arrange to meet up, however, I do wonder if I didn’t make the effort what would become of that friendship?!

Like a said at the top of the post I’m not looking for sympathy, just remember that what you see on social media might always be what’s going on and a message to a friend might just brighten their day to know someone somewhere is thinking of them!!

Much Love, Rachel xx

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Easter Digital Detox

As much as we are all probably more connected with each other than ever before somehow sometimes we can feel totally disconnected with ourselves!!

It feels that we are constantly bombarded with information and notifications and yes you have a choice whether to respond and engage with these however at times it can seem too much.As I live on my own and run my own business social media allows me to connect to many different people on many different levels and in a way makes me feel part of something so I don’t feel isolated.

But I have to admit that there are times when I’ll use social media to procrastinate doing things that actually will benefit me in the long term which I avoid doing as they are hard; things like self-reflection, challenging self-limiting beliefs or breaking habits that don’t serve me well.So I decided to take the plunge and unplug, now I know that I’m in a fortunate position to do this, my family live miles from me so don’t have commitments to see them. I don’t have a partner or children at the moment (What I’d give to have these is a whole other blog post!!!) so my time is my own and the long Easter weekend seemed the ideal time to do it.

In all honestly I couldn’t wait for Thurs evening to come so that I could turn off my devises and escape into my own small world for four whole days. In years gone by I used to dread this four day weekend as I wasn’t comfortable in my own company and found it incredibly hard, as I’ve matured being on my own is something I love and yes I do spend hell of a lot of time on my own but I never tire of coming home to an empty house (well apart from Sophiecat) and being able to shut the world out.

I know some people might find this really hard, I remember watching a programme a few months back where individuals were asked to spend a number of days cut off from the world in a furnished shipping container with only themselves for company and out of the 4 or 5 people who started the experiment I think only 1 was able to last the full allotted time, most went a bit stir crazy, one participant didn’t even make it past 12 hours!! It feels that although technology and social media has improved our lives in many ways it has also damaged our lives in some ways. This need to always feel connected, fear of missing out… But is this actually doing us any good? The ability to entertain yourself, the use of imagination to pass the time, boredom and thinking time/space to name a few things we don’t seem to do anymore.

As well as turning off the internet I also decided that I would try to watch less TV, I initially thought I’d turn it off for the 4 days but decided in the volatile world we live in that it might be a good idea just to check in with the news and allow myself a few hours in the evening to watch a film. This was going to be one of the hardest things for me as often I put the TV on just to have noise in the house and then get sucked into watching mindless or mind-numbing programmes!!

I wasn’t totally cut off as I also decided to leave my landline on, the main reason for this is that my dad hasn’t been well recently and so thought it best that if my parents/sisters did need to get hold of me they could ring me. However I asked them not to unless it was an emergency. This might seem odd to some people; in our family we’ve always gone on the principle of no news is good news so not speaking to my family regularly is a normal thing.

When I woke up naturally on Friday morning, well as naturally as you can when you have a cat who likes to be fed at a certain time and bothers you until you give in to their demands!! So I went downstairs to feed her and made myself a coffee, turns out it was 7.30am which is a lie-in for me. I came back to bed and thought what now? Usually at this point I’d grab my phone and tablet and have a nosey at social media and before I know it a couple hours have past. Instead I picked up my journal made a rough plan of how I was going to spend the next four days. There were a few things that I’d like to do and a few things I needed to do and decided that my weekend would look like this:

  • Friday – a bit of work, house chores
  • Saturday – chill day, reading
  • Sunday – writing and reading
  • Monday – more work

Work mainly consisted of:

Writing a presentation for a talk I’m giving later in April, I’d spent a couple of hours on Thurs downloaded research papers on my subject area and so all I needed to do was pull it all together.

I also had some paperwork to complete for a couple of funded projects I work on as an associate, paperwork is not my strong point so put this off all the time!

I wanted to do a business review of the last 12 months (my financial year end) and just reflect on what I’d achieved.

Reading:

I have so many books I start to read and then don’t find, books I’ve bought and not even started and books I’ve read, loved and want to read again!! I love reading despite being dyslexic but I don’t do it very often and find other things to do like social media or watch the Tellybox as they are easier. But once a book has grabbed me I do find it easy to while away the hours reading; most the books I read are personal development focused as I believe we never stop learning and developing as people.

Writing:

When I hit an age milestone last year I decided that I wanted to write some “Thank You” cards to people who have influenced my life journey thus far. I spent most of last year and early part of this year making the cards and so thought Easter Sunday would be a nice day to set about writing the cards.

It’s now Monday lunchtime and how’s it been?

The first word that comes to mind is quiet, I’ve not put the radio on (I usually put it on as soon as I get up and it stays on for most of the day, just in the background) and the TV has stayed off for most of the time. I did put it on more on Sat and Sun but was quite disciplined to turn it off after watching a certain programme or film.

Things I noticed:

Not having my phone on meant that any pictures I wanted to take I had to use my actual camera, which 1st needed charging and turns out I’ve not used it for nearly three and half years!! And it felt all a bit alien to use it and at time of writing this, I’m not sure how I’ll get them off the camera onto the PC to put in this blog post!

Not having the internet on meant any word I couldn’t read or know its definition I had to look it up in my dictionary. Being dyslexic I often use the internet to look up words, if I can’t read them I can at least know that they mean so I still can understand what the writer is trying to say.

My dictionary is a pocket one with a combined thesaurus which was bought for me by my sister when I found out about my dyslexia and has a limited number of words. So a couple of words I couldn’t find and have noted down to look up when the internet is back on. But I did enjoy looking up words and finding other words I’d forgotten!!

Time became less important, I use my phone as my watch and alarm clock and not having it on meant I listened to my body more and did things as and when I felt the need to rather than being driven by time. We all live to routines, some of these are artificial the routines we create ourselves to get stuff done and some are our natural inbuilt routines or rhythm (circadian rhythm) like whether you are an early bird or night owl. I found that on all four days I woke up around the same time between 6.30-7.30am and yes this might have something to do with Sophiecat but I think it’s also my natural waking time too!! Time seemed to slow down and I felt really calm.

I managed to get most of what I wanted done, all the things that were deadline driven (for someone else) got done; the other things (activity/goals generated by me) got started but will be continued over the coming days and weeks.

I have to say that I did miss talking to people and can’t wait to catch up with friends but overall I’ve found these 4 days to be quite restorative and have enjoyed the quiet contemplation of being with just my thoughts. No massive breakthroughs just a reassurance that I’m doing ok (there were less tears than I thought there would be, in fact I only cried during one of the films I watched, in recent years I’ve felt quite emotional/teary about things in my life) and that life on the whole is great and that I’ve got a lot to be thankful for.