Although feeling lonely and isolated is common among new dads (and men in general) many men find it hard to talk about it, with their partners or anyone else. Here at The Dadsnet, our members found the right space to speak at length about being a father, and the loneliness that can come with it.
“It’s really lonely trying to figure out fatherhood when you don’t like the old model but don’t feel you can ask anybody,” says Charles Schaeffer Ph.D., a psychologist in New York City. “Many dads want to be nurturing and caring but didn’t have models for that, unless they were fortunate enough to grow up in nontraditional households.”
Feeling lonely isn’t in itself a mental health problem, but the two are strongly linked. Having a mental health problem increases your chance of feeling lonely, and feeling lonely can have a negative impact on your mental health. Here are some tips The Dadsnet community use to turn the tide on feeling lonely.
Find a hobby
Trying to figure out what to do during a day off or during the evening can be tough. Especially if you want to feel productive or creative. It can feel a little strange to find a hobby as an adult, especially one that doesn’t involve drinking or working too much. Finding a hobby or rekindling an old one will definitely improve your quality of life. Having a hobby also means you can then share it with others in turn. Children have lots of hobbies, but as adults we seem to lose them as we grow older. Finding something you can also do with your children or family is perfect.
Get a dog
If you’ve already got one – walk it more! If you haven’t got a dog then talk to someone who has, and ask them why they own one. Still not a fan of dogs? There are thousands of pets out there looking for a home. Rescue centres are always desperate to find new owners – so go there first. In fact just spending time with animals will help alleviate your feelings of loneliness, with some arguing that they’re ultimately better company than humans. I can guarantee there’s a creature out there right now, waiting to be your friend.
Join a gym
Okay, so the gym isn’t for everybody – but getting active is. We all know the benefits we gain from even gentle exercise. The idea here is to do a chosen ‘activity’ with others, preferably in a space where there are other people. You could join a class or study one. Join a local park run, marathon or fundraiser. Explore your local community and see what’s on offer. If you haven’t given the gym a try before, there are plenty to choose from and there are lots of free trials to be had.
Spend more time with family
Sounds horribly cliché right? We could all do with spending more time with our families – even with those members we think we hate. Isolating ourselves is very easily done and the family unit can, in turn, create that isolation. Growing your family circle can help ease that sense of loneliness, and also fill those empty spaces. Most importantly – family doesn’t have to be blood. Coincidentally, there are lots of older people who are also incredibly lonely befriending them can be an extremely rewarding experience. If you’re away from your family and unable to contact them, setting time to plan those visits will also be time well spent.
Volunteering not only introduces you to new people through engaging with your community, it also helps counteract the effects of stress, anger, and anxiety. It has been proven to ease depression, increasing happiness and self confidence. It also helps you stay physically healthy. Studies have also found that those who volunteer have a lower mortality rate than those who do not! With thousands of diverse volunteering opportunities out there – head to Do-it.org and find a local opportunity now. It’s not all adverts for help in charity shops, I promise. Happy volunteering!
Join The Dadsnet Community
Aside from work, what are you doing for yourself?
Part of managing loneliness is trying to get out of your own head. We can do that in lots of ways. Sometimes the distraction is good, but it will only work for a while. Managing loneliness is really about growing yourself by meeting new people, becoming involved in things outside work, and continuing to learn and grow. Head to our community page and search for a local Dadsnet group to connect with other Dads.
“When I joined The Dadsnet I was quite isolated and had no friends, I moved towns and lost touch. Shortly after joining The Dadsnet I went to events in the local community and now have a friends circle I don’t feel lonely anymore – I have an active social life.”Graham S. – now a Dadsnet Community Leader