Social Question

andrewmgsutton's avatar

Does anyone here feel anxious or stressed when alone?

Asked by andrewmgsutton (162points) January 3rd, 2010

Here’s the thing (and I’m a bit shy to bring it up)...

I have a tendency to over-think things, especially when I’m alone in my apartment or in my office at work, and in turn this can lead to a bad case of stress and/or a state of anxiousness. Often it’s caused by a fair amount of anticipation of a situation or event, e.g. knowing that I have to go into work the next day or waiting on exam results. Other times, the tension or anxiety just creeps up on me for reasons I can’t even pinpoint :( More often than not, this tense state of mind hits me when I’m alone.

It may be important to note that I live in Montreal, QC, in the Great White North, where the days are short from early Nov to April. It could be a seasonal thing…but I don’t want to digress too much.

When I get this overwhelming feeling of nervousness, I sometimes try to tackle it by doing something I’ve been meaning to do for a while. I try to take care of one of my daily or weekly responsibilities, like feeding the cat (daily) or buying groceries (weekly or almost weekly) and the anxiety goes away slightly, sometimes even completely. Other times I have a hard time mustering up the energy to free my troubled mind of all the shitty, anticipatory thoughts.

Side-note: I am the king of procrastination. Do you think that would have anything to do with the way I’m feelin’?

So far, being in the presence of others seems to be the most effective thing out there for me. I’m looking for ways to feel comfortable in my own skin without having to always rely on my girlfriend/friends/loved ones when I find myself in this situation. I used to value alone or – as my girlfriend calls it – “me” time. I have a heap of cool interests and am passionate about a lot of things as well. I’m a singer-songwriter and a part-time student and love to play hockey (roller or ice) and soccer or to simply go for a jog or running/sprinting session.The nervousness can get in the way of me doing these things, the very things I love!

Does anyone here experience the same or similar feelings? Any suggestions for what I can do to calm my mind and to reclaim some good ol’ ME time?

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15 Answers

sliceswiththings's avatar

YES I experience this as well. It’s much better now, but for years I dreaded being left alone. As you said, the presence of others can help. In these situations I often call my grandma, because she will talk and talk and talk and thus take up a lot of time and I’ll feel less alone (and feel good about calling my grandma). I also try to find any living thing, like birds at the bird feeder, to talk to. Lastly, I sing. Very loudly. How often do you get the chance to let your guard down and sing freely and know no one’s listening?

sliceswiththings's avatar

I just noticed “mental health” in the topics. That’s interesting, have you considered an anxiety disorder? I was diagnosed with PMDD two years ago (which is a women’s mental health issue that includes anxiety) and this is one problem that is much much better having been medicated.

fancyfeast's avatar

You are not alone. You are not the only one facing the stress and anxiety you feel when alone. It could be a fear or insecurity. Can you think about why you become anxious when you are alone? -What brings you peace? Is it reading a specific kind of book, is it being outdoors, is it a hobby? I am trying to figure-out a healthy way in which you can manage the anxiety/stress.

fancyfeast's avatar

For me- It is listening to my favorite music, which lifts my spirits, and spending time with animals and the outdoors.

fancyfeast's avatar

I agree with sliceswiththings: You may need to see a doctor concerning the anxiety you feel.

clairemagdalenaclaire's avatar

I disagree with the advice to see a doctor. Western society tends to over medicalise things. I was suffering something like what you’re describing, andrewmgsutton. I went to a doctor because it was getting debilitating- to the point where I was having panic attacks when I felt lonely as a consequence of over thinking. I was given a prescription for sleeping tablets, and an SSRI that treated GAD (generalised anxiety disorder).

I was on lexapro for six months. I continued to over think and analyse everything beyond reason. The meds simply dulled the edges of the anxiety, rather than treating the cause. I went back to the doctor to be given another script for Effexor. I could barely study; wanted to sleep all of the time, was a shell of myself. I finally came to the understanding that being medicated is a bandaid for a deep tissue wound, if you pardon the poor analogy.

Learning to be alone is probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever experienced. For me, it has to do with self esteem; and not feeling like a valid person unless someone is giving me that boost via their company.

I’m very fortunate to have met an amazing psychologist through the counselling service at the university I go to. She specialises in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) which I have found invaluable. The principle is thus: we learn our behaviours, and we can unlearn them. It avoids the tendency to grant ourselves with a ‘disorder’. Perhaps you should look up some techniques on the net, or venture to see a counsellor. Good luck.

andrewmgsutton's avatar

Great answers so far!

@sliceswiththings Maybe a long-distance phone call to a friend or relative would do the trick. I could try that. I’ve also consulted doctors about these things. Apparently it’s nothing severe enough that I would need to be on daily meds.
@fancyfeast Reading definitely does help a lot. I’ll also sometimes pick up my guitar and try writing a new song, ‘cause that’s one of the things I am very passionate about, or I’ll listen to something new or whip up a play-list of both songs and movies. It helps a little bit but I’m not sure if it gets to the root of the issue.

CMaz's avatar

Yes… I mean no.

wundayatta's avatar

Humans have evolved to become social animals because it works to keep us alive and reproducing. It’s in our nature to be anxious about being alone. Clearly, when you are with people, you feel a lot better.

As others have said, there are anxiety disorders, and you can go to a doctor and get drugs to treat it. Should you have a disorder like that, the meds, when you find the right ones, will enable you to tolerate your aloneness more.

However I’m wondering why you don’t go with the “treatment” that you know works. Why don’t you find more ways to be with friends? You could move in with your girlfriend. You could volunteer for causes you believe in. There have to be ways to socialize more.

Or you could move into a group house. Why do you have to be solitary in your own apartment? Why not share living space with others? Then you’ve got built in company. You’re a social animal and your anxiety is pushing you to socialize more.

By all means, get it treated if it is diagnosed as a serious problem. But try to use socially healthy ways of dealing with your anxiety in place of, or in addition to drugs.

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

No, I usually don’t feel that way when alone. I feel creative when I’m by myself. And I tend to be a lot more productive.

Pandora's avatar

Sounds like there are a few things that cause your stress. One is that winter often can make us stressful. That is why summer time makes us feel best. All that darkness makes us want to huddle down and do nothing but we get restless. We feel kind of caged up.
Another thing is perhaps you should at least go out and get some sun for at least 15 minutes a day minimum. It will help pull you out of a funk. Now the other thing is it sounds like you are creative and physical. Creativity needs to be fed daily. Doing the same thing day after day stifle your creativity. That is why you need people because they spice up your life and give you other ideas. Now another possibility is you use get out and away as a way to procrastinate. You feel better while your away because you feel you have a legit excuse to put things off but when you return you realize you only have more added on and so you create more stress. Best thing to do is bite the bullet and do what you have to do. Then reward yourself with going out and doing the things you rather do. Maybe it would work best if you create a schedule for yourself. Like 3 days fun. 3 days doing what must be done. And one day of pampering yourself. It will give you a sense of control and maybe help release some of the winter stress.

warribbons's avatar

i think you should ignore the anxiety and do a hobby to keep your mind occupied. i feel the same when i have nothing to do

ultimatestar's avatar

i’m in the best mood when i’m left alone.

oldtimeradio's avatar

Yes, I feel anxious when alone. It has been up and down for me for years. I mostly struggled with anxiety and panic attacks while driving in the past. I have recently become anxious again in other settings. I went to the Urgent Care on Friday evening because I thought my blood pressure was out of control, which it was not. I have not had problems with blood pressure except for a few times. When I go to the doctor though it is always at normal pressures. Anyway I have avoided singing in the choir, even taking a shower at home, etc. I was in the church choir only up until a few months ago. I made an excuse that I had to throw up when I was up in the choir just a few Sundays ago. I slipped out when the pastor got ready to pray. I am on Lexapro and was taking Klonopin, but my doctor did not refill the Klonopin the last time. I think he wanted me to come in for an appointment. Anyway, I am going to try and get worked in tomorrow because I cannot function at work, where I do have to drive. I am an HVAC technician. I am also a Christian, which makes it a spiritual battle as well. I know that it is also chemical too. There are aspects of anxiety that cannot be settled just through changing thinking. YES, I believe that a person can be fully restored from the mental anguish of anxiety, but it takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight. It can though. Through prayer and fasting I believe a person can be restored whole from anxiety and panic disorder, or even from cancer, but it is God who chooses to heal.
Thank you for letting me share.
I do not want to be medicated

wundayatta's avatar

@oldtimeradio Welcome to Fluther!

You have a problem shared by many of us at Fluther. You want to stay away from medications, and I understand that. Have you investigated seeing some kind of therapist? They can teach you mental techniques that can really help you to reduce the impact of your anxiety. Therapy in combination with medications is a really good way to go. Medications make the job easier, and you don’t have to stay on them forever.

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