It's natural to experience loneliness after divorce, but it doesn't have to become your new normal. Staying busy is one of the most effective ways to stave it off and keep it from setting up shop permanently. That can mean anything from running errands to rock climbing, because what you do isn't as important as doing something. Here are 20 ideas to help you keep busy and keep loneliness at bay.
1. Volunteer Your Time
There’s noting like helping others to give us a sense of purpose. You don’t have to go far to find opportunities and it’s likely you’ll meet people who share your philanthropic spirit.
2. Focus On Your Family
If your kids still live at home, focus your attention on them. Attend all their events even when it’s not your weekend and try to get more involved in their school. Plan outings they’ll enjoy even if you don’t feel up to it. Kids get lonely too and it’s important they know you're available to listen when they’re ready to talk.
3. Expand Your Horizons
Weekends can be the hardest when you no longer have a partner. Don’t let this stop you from getting out and about. Rather than having brunch at your favorite restaurant, find one that your spouse never cared for and go there. Pop into a movie theater and watch a film. Drive to a neighboring town and explore it. Use weekends to do things you wouldn’t have done when your spouse was around.
4. Join A Support Group
You are not alone. Talking and listening to people in your same situation can be helpful as you deal with everything that comes with divorce. If there’s not a group in your area, think about starting one yourself. Enlist the local library or community center for help.
5. Keep In Touch
Try not to isolate yourself from people. Friends will always be there for you — ready and willing to listen when you need to talk. Asking about their lives will also help you take your mind off yours for a while.
6. Talk To Your Kids
If you have adult children, lean on them to help you through the loneliest times. Invite them over if they live near, or video chat with them when you need a virtual hug. Let them know how you’re doing and be available for them if they need help, as well.
7. Get Involved
Even if it’s for treasurer of your homeowner's association, running for office can be an exhilarating and rewarding experience. Now is the time to get involved with issues that are important to you. Today’s political climate has made it a bit easier for everyday people with little or no experience to throw their hats into the ring.
8. Make New Friends
Sometimes we lose our friends in the divorce, too. If this is the case, make a concerted effort to find new ones. It’s not always easy but it’s always worth it. If you haven’t been social with co-workers, it’s time to start. Invite them to dinner, initiate a happy hour, or meet them for coffee on the weekend. When you see people at your neighborhood haunts, strike up a conversation. You never know who you'll meet and how they might make a big difference in your life.
9. Join A Club
Meetup.com is an excellent place to find like-minded people to hang out with. There are thousands of groups to choose from in every part of the country. Getting together with people from your own area who share your interests can provide a welcome refuge from loneliness.
10. Go Back To School
Take a class at the community college or online. You can sharpen your skills, learn new ones, or simply explore a topic that’s always interested you. If you’re thinking about a new career, this is a good way to get started.
11. Make A Move
This may seem extreme, but a change of scenery can have dramatic effects. Whether it’s the next town over, or the next country over, you’ll be busy exploring, meeting new people, and setting up your new home rather than dwelling on what you’ve been through.
12. Take A Trip
Traveling solo is having a moment. Google it and you’ll see what we mean. Sites like Solo Traveler are good resources with information gathered from real people who travel alone. Do your research, decide on a destination, and get going.
13. Get A Job
If you find yourself alone all day, consider getting a job. Even a part-time gig at the local coffee shop, bookstore, market, or retail shop will help boost your self-esteem and give you some pocket money, to boot. If you’re looking for a career, update your LinkedIn profile, start networking, and add your resume to job search sites.
14. Learn From Others
You’re not the only one who’s gone through a divorce, though it may seem like it at the moment. Read about others’ experiences to help you navigate your own. While no two divorces are alike, you’ll find similarities you can relate to and take comfort in.
15. Adopt A Pet
Shelters are filled with animals ready to find forever homes. If you’re away from home during the day, or live in an apartment, cats are a good option. They typically don’t experience separation anxiety and they’re fairly low maintenance.
16. Keep A Journal
Writing down your thoughts and feelings can be cathartic. Get into the habit of writing every day and look back at the early entries to see how far you’ve come.
17. Start A Business
Do you love to cook? Are you a financial wizard? Do you bury yourself in home improvement projects? Think about turning your passion into your career. It’s never been easier to build a website and there are plenty of free resources out there to help you get started.
18. Get Some Exercise
It’s easy to become sedentary when we’re depressed or lonely. Set your sights on doing one activity a day. Go for a walk. Take a yoga class. Ride a bike. Go to the gym. If you’d rather not leave the house, find an exercise video on YouTube and follow along or simply crank up the music and dance your heart out.
19. Find A Hobby
If you don’t already have a hobby you enjoy, now’s the time to find one. You can learn something completely new, or reacquaint yourself with a passion you put on the shelf years ago.
20. Start Dating Again
When you’re ready, slowly ease back in to the dating scene. Don’t rush it and don’t get discouraged. You can try online dating sites, but start by letting your friends know you’re open to meeting new people. They may know someone who’s perfect for you.