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You can break the cycle of loneliness and isolation

Get out of the spiral: a significant number of Bermuda residents suffer from loneliness, according to Robin Trimingham. A change in attitude can change perspective (Photograph submitted)

When you consider that Bermuda is a population of approximately 65,000 sitting on a mere 21 square miles of land, it might initially seem perplexing that a significant number of residents suffer from loneliness.

After all, aren’t Bermudians known for their warm friendly nature? Haven’t our families been out here on the rock for so long that we are all somehow related to each other?

You can hardly navigate the aisles at the grocery store without seeing at least three people you know; how could anyone be lonely?

Perhaps the problem here is a confusion between a difficulty of finding space to intentionally be alone when you are confronted with chaos and stress everywhere you turn, and the unspeakable despair of finding yourself unable to break out of a cycle of unending isolation (which some people experience even in the presence of others in extreme cases).

Ironically, when you search for remedies to combat loneliness online, one of the suggestions that immediately pops up is the notion of utilising meditation to generate a sense of wellbeing and alleviate the sensation (or fear) of being alone.

On the one hand this is an exceptionally good approach; people who are at peace within themselves tend to be comfortable with their own company.

But being advised to intentionally spend even more time alone in an empty house might seem like the last thing that those who are seeking an escape from their predicament would want to try; there is a distinct difference between the sorrow of loneliness and the enjoyment of solitude.

The trick to changing your perspective in this situation has a lot to do with attitude.

If you persist in viewing your current state of “aloneness” from a negative perspective, then you may continue to sit at the bottom of an empty well with little chance of escape.

If, on the other hand, you realise that you have the ability to take ownership of your daily schedule and intentionally choose periods of alone time and periods of human interaction, then the beginning of the solution to your problem may well be as close as your front porch.

The key question you must ask yourself if you are home alone all day long is why you choose to sit inside by yourself.

Why aren’t you sitting on your porch where you can interact with your neighbours?

Why aren’t you catching the bus to Hamilton or St George’s or one of the beaches and enjoying the sights along the way?

Why aren’t you going for a ride on one of the public ferries at least once a week?

Why aren’t you going to the library or a coffee shop to be with other people?

If you are able-bodied, why aren’t you joining a church committee or volunteering for one of the many island charities?

Sure, it might be hard to decide where to go the first time and yes, you might be a bit tired by the time you get home, but what have you got to lose?

In truth, I don’t think anyone really ever decides to lead a lonely life and there are all sorts of reasons that really nice people find themselves unexpectedly alone and hesitant to head back out into the big bright world.

But if this is a situation that you are living, then it is a problem that you will have to swallow hard and solve for yourself.

The first step to consider as you sit in your living room is what would it take for you to decide to intentionally change your daily routine and how you can make that happen.

Robin Trimingham is an author and thought leader in the field of retirement who specialises in helping corporate groups and individuals understand and prepare for a new life beyond work. Contact her at www.olderhoodgroup.com, 538-8937 or robin@olderhood.com