We all have moments in life when we feel a bit lonely and disconnected. Maybe you’re going through something or there’s been a big shift in your life and you might feel like you’re stuck in a rut.
As we get older, especially when we have children or move away from home,
What may feel like a personal issue is actually a universal problem for many mums. You can change this feeling of isolation, in fact, it’s the best thing you could do for your mental and physical health.
Here’s how to turn things around…
Why do I feel so disconnected and lonely?
When you feel lonely and disconnected it’s because your social needs feel unmet in your current circumstances. Whether that’s because you aren’t seeing your friends enough or because you feel strained in your current social relationships.
In fact, one in three adults admit to feeling lonely, especially after the pandemic when people were forced to isolate more. Some people still feel this way even now.
Why being a stay-at-home mum can feel so lonely
Mums are busy, stressed, anxious and often lacking motivation as it is.
But when it comes to looking after their own mental health and wellness, it seems the majority of women believe they don’t have the time or the money to take care of themselves.
What’s more, if you are going through something or feeling a bit anxious or depressed, you may subconsciously be withdrawing from the people around you.
Maybe socialising feels like a chore and it’s hard to be fully present when your mind feels messy or you feel distracted with other things going on around you.
3 tips on how to stop feeling isolated and feel more connected
There is no question that parenthood takes a toll on our relationships with friends.
Throw into the mix having to relocate house due to a growing family, financial constraints and change in lifestyle, you suddenly find yourself feeling lonely and without the same social connections, you used to have before kids.
Here are three tips on how to feel more connected…
1. Out with the old in with the new
It may sound harsh but the fact is if your connection was superficial, having kids will ensure it’s near impossible to maintain any sort of friendship with old friends.
Social relationships are based on similarities between two people and while it may feel like you are being left behind, you’re just travelling in a different direction to your old friends.
If they made your life better, made the effort to maintain a friendship with you and still bring a smile to your face, then these are the friends to keep in contact with and to make an effort for.
If not, it may be time to branch out and make some new connections.
2. Mums are an untapped source
You may not feel it right now but mums can be lots of fun and are extremely resourceful! And they ‘get it’- the issues you face day to day having a family.
Try to join a local mums group or check community notices boards or facebook groups that have weekly meetups.
A good place to start is Playgroup Australia. If you can’t find any of these in your area, try to look for mum’s and bubs groups at your local swimming pool or daycare.
3. You are in control
Instead of waiting for people to come into your life so you can befriend them, try to advertise your own mothers meet-up. Pick a park or local cafe and print a flyer with your number for other mums to call you.
You may get lots, a little or no contact at all but if you put yourself out there, it’s more likely you’ll be able to make social connections than if you stay at home and continue feeling lonely.
Strategies to help you loneliness as a stay at home mum
1. Turn OFF the screens and get out there
One of the most self-destructive things for a SAHM to do is to scroll through Instagram or Facebook looking at other mums staged moments presented as real-life.
Negative thoughts and depression sets in. Thoughts like:
‘Why can’t you look like that two months after baby?’
‘Why can’t you make that three-course meal AND clean the kitchen AND look effortlessly like you’ve barely made any effort?’ enter into your mind and make it hard to see the positive.
While parenting comparisons are difficult to stop, know that what you see online isn’t real, it’s a small snapshot and you don’t get to see the rest of their lives.
Turn off your social media, put the babies in their prams and go outside for a stroll. It will help your brain by releasing feel-good chemicals like endorphins and it has the added benefit of helping you lose weight.
2. Break the cycle by setting a goal
Monotony is a mood killer for SAHMs. You feel directionless and shut off from the day, you start disengaging from life by doing habitual activities. This can only contribute to feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Yes, you gave birth to a baby and love it and your family more than anything but if you don’t engage in your life and practice self-care, you won’t be the best mother/partner/friend/sister/daughter you can be.
Try things like leaving the baby in the gym’s creche or with a trusted loved one while taking a yoga or boxing class, swimming a length or taking a dance class.
Whatever it is break the sleep-eat-clean-parent-repeat routine you have going on. You’ll find yourself looking forward to this time and will create a social life separate to being a SAHM.
3. Phone a friend
Reach out, catch up. The old you is still under that isolated and sad facade. Call a friend over for a chat or if you feel too embarrassed about the house and are too exhausted to clean, catch up over a coffee or at the park/beach.
Humans need social interaction and connection, we need to feel like we are part of a group to feel valuable and needed. If we don’t have these connections, we can feel isolated and depressed.
Studies show that people who have removed themselves from these social ties have a shorter lifespan. If you find you don’t have anything in common with your old friends anymore, it’s time to start making new ones.
Join a mother’s group, an exercise group or a reading group. The Healthy Mummy community is full of like-minded and supportive mums from all over the country, join today and you may just find a new friend.
Whether it’s communicating with your partner, a family member or a friend, let people know how you feel. The people in your life who care about you don’t want you to feel this way.
Mums forget that parenthood should be a shared experience between parents or family members.
If you have no one to call on, put your child in daycare once a week so you can catch up on housework or practice self-care by reading a book, watching a movie or having a relaxing bath. You’ll be a better mum and person for it.
If you feel depressed, have no inclination to do anything all the time and think of harming yourself or your baby, you may be experiencing post-natal depression. It is time to get help.