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10 Suggestions for Combatting Loneliness as a Solopreneur | Friday Chatter

July 26, 2019

Happy Friday, friends! If I’m being honest, today’s post was hard to write… you see, I spent SO long dealing with this very topic myself, and once I realized that I was not the only one that struggles with this, I was equal parts sad and at peace. You see… when you are lonely, your brain tells you that you are the only person that has ever felt that way. You feel a bit like the odd man out or like there may be something wrong with you. Maybe that is just me speaking from experience, but I learned the hard way that it can be really tough to combat loneliness as a solo-preneur, and sadly, I’m not the only one that has ever experienced this. In fact, SO many entrepreneurs experience this, and we just don’t talk about it.

I was given peace because I knew I wasn’t alone in feeling like this, but I was so, so sad to know that there are so many people just like me that struggle with feeling lonely and continue to feel isolated. I have so much hope that conversations like this one will really begin to help people that feel like they may be all alone in the world know that they really do have people there to support them.

Growing up, I always thought I was an introvert. I’m slow to show my weird personality in large groups or to new people (heck I’ve even been slow to share my weird quirks through my very own brand!) and often find myself feeling shy in social situations. However, when I started to work from home, I quickly learned: I AM A MAJOR EXTROVERT. There… I finally said it! I am a HUGE extrovert, y’all! I draw energy from being with others and always find myself needing an outlet to externally process information. I think out loud, I need to process through new ideas or problems with others, and I’ve taken a few love language quizzes, and time and time again, the result is that my love language is quality time spent with others!

With all that being said, it took me a while to realize just how this had an impact on me as a person that works from home. It took me a long time to realize that my general feelings of feeling a bit blue and low energy were simply due to the fact that I love being around other people.

When you work an office job, you have a built-in network of people to talk to on a daily basis. My poor coworkers were held hostage to my antics as they were forced to listen to me talk and talk for eight hours at a time. The lovely people that work at the gym where I teach have been and still are blessed by my need for conversation, especially at the end of a long day where my human interaction has been low. When I started working from home for the majority of the day, I found myself looking for someone to talk to… to bounce an idea off of… to share the most recent ridiculous thing that has happened in my life or crossed my mind… and when I realized that it was just me in my apartment at my tiny desk in the corner of my room and there was no one to talk to, that was really, really hard. The adjustment period was tough, but I think what was tougher was realizing that this is just going to be what life looks like if I choose to work from home! Hustle is hard… hustle is even HARDER when you feel like you have to go at it alone.

Like I said, it took a lot of time for me to realize that part of what I was feeling was loneliness. As someone that prides herself on being strong and independent, this was a little challenging to swallow. Did I really need other people around me to feel like myself? The answer? Yup. I sure did!

Don’t get me wrong… I love working from home and love my business and my clients so much. The freedom this career affords is incredible, and I am so grateful to have the opportunities that I do. BUT, to be honest? As an entrepreneur, some days are certainly better than others, and other days are just downright hard. Life as a solo entrepreneur is far from easy.

In fact, 1 in every 3 entrepreneurs struggles with depression and anxiety. As we move forward with this post, I need you to know and understand that I am far from a mental health professional… I’m simply speaking from my personal experiences. I highly recommend seeking help from a professional counselor or therapist. Feeling lonely from time to time as a solo-entrepreneur is something that many people experience, but it doesn’t have to be your forever reality.

PHEW that was a lot. Now that all of that has been said, it is time to get to the GOOD part of the post (AKA why you’re really here!). Today, I’m diving into ten things I’ve learned through the year plus that I’ve been out working on my own that have helped me feel a little less lonely and a little more me! It takes time and it takes effort, y’all. Find things you love to do and actually do them. Hang on tight to the people that you love and that you get along well with. Make an effort to keep in touch with people both near and far. Some of these things may be a little surprising or weird, but hang with me!

Know that I am a single mid-20’s gal, living in a big city with a ton of house plants and no other living beings to care for. Some of these items may work for you and some of them may not! Take ’em with a grain of salt. Whatever season you are in right now, I hope you find at least one item on the list helpful!

Make time out of the office social time

    • This may sound a little ridiculous, but I try to have at least one conversation or interaction each time I leave my office for an errand or as I unplug for the night. I am pretty sure each cashier at Trader Joe’s knows my recipe for the perfect cauliflower gnocchi, and I know my roommate may be the slightest bit tired of having me talk her ear off when she gets home at night. I try to use the regular checkout line, instead of self-checkout. Gym time is my social time… I love group fitness classes! Look for opportunities within your daily routine to foster in-person interactions. These interactions or conversations don’t have to be anything groundbreaking, but I cannot tell you how much of a difference it makes to have someone ask you how you are doing when it has been 12+ hours since you talked to a human face-to-face!
    • In addition to this, I also have another job! Yes, I work from home most of the day, but I do also get to teach fitness classes to amazing clients. This was an incredible support season as I transitioned into full-time work from home life and am so incredibly thankful for the community that I have at the gym each and every day. More often than not, I try to arrive a little early or leave a little later to chat with people.

Change your work environment or take work to a coffee shop

    • If you’ve been feeling like a prisoner to your office and you have the ability to work mobile, change it up! (This is why I think I’ll always use a laptop!) Take your work to a friend’s couch or to the nearest Starbucks. Answer emails from the public library or find another shared workspace/coworking space that fits your needs. Heck… maybe even consider getting a group of solopreneur friends together to work from a local establishment once a week?! I’ve found that being around people helps a lot… whether or not I am directly interacting with them. I find I have some of my best and most productive periods with the crazy buzz of a city Starbucks in the background and leave feeling caffeinated, refreshed, and like I just got some serious work done.

Create a community or participate in a local community group

    • This may be the number one thing I recommend if you are feeling isolated and/or lonely within your work. There are other people out there living life in a similar way as you do… you just have to find them! Personally, I love my local chapter of the Rising Tide Society and so value the connections that I have made through it. When you are at meetings though, you DO have to make an effort to talk to new people. If you are looking for something outside of the work world, there are sports leagues and book clubs and groups that visit farmers markets. You could try creating a community with your past, present and future clients or could reach out to your Instagram friends to meet in real life. I worked to create my very own community (Wandering the District… join us HERE!) when I realized that I wanted some fun people to explore this beautiful city with! If you haven’t been able to find a group that meets your needs, why not be the one to create it?!

Phone a friend

    • This one may not be possible for everyone, but I have a very good gal pal that most of you know (Hi Savannah!) that also lives a life very similar to mine! We’re both home working for long stretches of time during the day. For a long time, I hated chatting on the phone, but now, I think it may be one of my FAVORITE things. Some days, we’ll hop on the phone for a quick chat that ends up lasting over two hours. We’re not always chatting… sometimes we’re bouncing ideas around and other times we’ll sit in silence until one of us needs to say something. It’s kind of like having a virtual coworker! I am SO grateful to have a gal that just gets me and my extroverted tendencies. I can almost guarantee that you have these people in your lives. Sometimes, they don’t live in your city, but thanks to modern technology, they’re just a phone call away!

Keep a group text going with your friends and family

    • I wish I could count the number of group texts that I have right now, but the truth is, there are so many more than I can count! I have had a group going with those two gals (plus another friend!) up there in the header photo for years, and it is one of the biggest blessings! Group chats and texts are such an easy way to stay in touch with the people you care about that you may not see every single day. The truth is, as an adult, more often than not, the people you keep closest to your heart may live hundreds if not thousands of miles away. It’s tough, and as someone that thrives on spending quality time with the people she cares about, group texts go a long way in enforcing the fact that I have people that love and care about me and that I’m not alone. Start a group text with your fellow creatives… keep a group text going with your family… send memes to your friends from college. Even taking the time to share something silly goes a long way in helping understand that I’m not alone.

Change your clothes, take a shower, take care of yourself

    • Basically, practice self-care. Do you have a morning routine or something to help you transition from work time to “real life” time? Take care of yourself… eat good food… move your body… change out of your pajamas… take showers… a healthy body leads to a happier mind. These tiny little changes may not bring magical human interaction in your life but they are incredible strides to taking care of both your mind and body. A healthy lifestyle and routine does wonders for your mental health and can boost your energy levels and spirits when you may be having an off day or week. PLUS, when you feel good & have the energy, you’ll be more inclined to want to go out and do things with other people! It is a win-win.

Plan something to look forward to

    • This does not have to be anything crazy… on Monday’s I look forward to sitting on my couch for two hours of trash TV (AKA the Bachelor, Bachelorette or Paradise)… I love talking to my mom as I walk home from work on Tuesday’s and Thursdays… I love my time sweating in the gym… right now, I’m really looking forward to cracking open my Simplified planner next week… and sometimes I just get really excited about things that I’m going to make for dinner. If we’re looking at bigger things, I also love planning trips to visit family or a new place and love to plan fun events or evenings out with friends. I try to always keep a little something non-work related on my calendar or in the back of my mind that I can look forward to! Not only does it get you excited about something, but if you are planning something with family or friends, that automatically gives you something that you can and should be talking about with other people! Sometimes, putting a little something non-work related on the calendar can feel like a lot of work (especially during busy season), but I promise, it is so worth it!

Background noise is a blessing

Use your voice throughout the day…

    • Snapchat, IG stories, audio messages, phone calls, singing along to the radio, etc. No seriously… I know it sounds silly, but when it’s been 15 hours since you have had someone to talk to, processing something over an audio message or telling a silly story to friends over Snapchat really helps you feel a little more normal! Using your voice is actually a really important thing (at least it is for me!), and when it’s been a while since I’ve spoken to someone, I can start to feel a little down. When I first went full time with my business, I actually had to re-learn how to teach barre classes after working from home all day! It wasn’t the voice warmup that I needed, so much as the social warmup. As an extrovert, I realized that I felt lower energy when I spent my day away from people, and it was challenging to transition into my bubbly fitness role. I’ve found quick interactions & using my voice throughout the day, whether in person, through technology or in the car with the radio blasting did wonders for waking me up and for keeping me energized throughout the day!

Outsource tasks to give you more opportunities to do what you love

    • Finally, if you have SO many tasks on your plate that you find that you are not able to live the life you would like, outsource my friend! It is my hustle like crazy, pedal to the metal season, and it can feel a little isolating when I see my friends out enjoying summer fun while I sit behind my computer with edits, email and blog posts up to my eyeballs. Enjoying life is just as important as your business to-do’s… I’m slowly but surely learning that. Now, I’m not saying that you should outsource every little thing. Hard work needs to happen. BUT, if there is a little something whether it be a business or personal task that you don’t love that could be handed off to lighten your load, it doesn’t hurt to take that step. This will look a little different for everyone, but get creative here. From edits to email, social media, SEO, blog assembly, design, gift-giving, grocery shopping, evening meals, laundry, house cleaning… there are so many options! What is something you could hand off to give you an extra hour or two or more to spend time out in the world?

This didn’t make the above list because it isn’t an option that I have personally pursued myself, but y’all, talking to a professional is a beautiful and a normal thing. Seeking the help of a mental health professional is a brave and empowering thing to do and has the ability to offer such a positive impact on your life.

This got really long… really fast, but it is a topic that I feel so incredibly strongly about. Overall, I hope that you know that you are more than your work. You deserve to live a life that is happy and healthy and, for the most part, balanced. Whether you realize it or not, you DO have people that care about you. Friends will come and go, that’s just a fact of life. BUT, the real people will be there through the thick and thin and ups and downs of running your own business. Being a solo-entrepreneur is hard; there’s no doubt about that, but you can do this! Know though that I am in your corner, cheering for you, friend!

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