All of us have experienced that feeling of loneliness at some point in our lives. It doesn’t matter if you have a lot of friends or no friends, or if you are surrounded by family or can go a whole day without seeing anybody. It doesn’t matter if you are divorced, widowed, married, in a relationship or have been single for years because loneliness can strike regardless of your relationship status.
Feeling lonely can be something you have been battling with for years and may feel never ending. Or maybe you suddenly find yourself in a situation, such as a breakup, where you suddenly feel lonely and don’t know who to talk to or how to spend your time.
Regardless of how you feel right now, remember that feeling lonely is completely normal. Everybody feels lonely at some stage in their lives, even the people who you perceive to have many friends and always seem to be doing things. There’s nothing wrong with you just because you feel lonely and alienated.
1. Define what loneliness means to you. No matter how great things are going in your life, there will be inevitable moments where you suddenly feel lonely. For instance, there are times where my friends seem to drop off the map. My friends might be busy spending time with their family, planning important events such as a wedding or busy with work or school. During these times, I suddenly might feel lonely because I haven’t spent any time with my friends. It’s important for me to recognize that this period is just a dry spell. Everything will go back to normal once my friends aren’t as busy. I should not overreact due to this moment where I feel a bit lonely. This is important to remember especially if you suddenly find yourself single or have moved to a new area. You must prevent yourself from jumping to false and hurtful conclusions based on a momentary feeling of loneliness.
2. Don’t blame yourself. When you feel lonely you are prone to negative thinking. You might say horrible things to yourself like “nobody will ever love me”, “I’m too weird”, or “it’s all my fault.” Try to not make the situation worse by saying negative self-talk to yourself that is designed to hurt you and feed you lies. Remember that your loneliness is a feeling and you might be more prone to these feelings after doing things that trigger these emotions such as browsing social media or spending time with a negative person.
3. Don’t let loneliness define you. Never allow feelings of loneliness to define who you are on any level. You are amazing. You are interesting. You are cool. You have qualities that people love about you. Feeling loneliness should not be something that changes your opinion of yourself. Everybody feels lonely. Loneliness is a feeling and has little to do with who you are as a person.
4. Ask yourself if you are an introvert. Some people need space to recharge and have a good quality of life. People who are not introverted may have a difficult time understanding why an introvert needs so much time to themselves. Even though you may have people in your life who prefer to be surrounded by friends and love to be around people, you need to be honest if this is just not the way you function. Some people prefer to spend their time relaxing with other people while other people would prefer to be at home watching a show, reading a book or playing a game. There is nothing wrong with identifying yourself as an introvert and accepting that you need more time to yourself. As an introvert, you might find that being alone is a gift!
5. Loneliness is an impermanent but necessary part of life. You cannot escape loneliness, nobody can. Each day in your life will not always be perfect, happy and carefree. Loneliness is inevitable, and will strike you at some points in your life. That’s okay because even though you feel lonely right now, tomorrow, or the day afterwards you will probably feel much better again. Remember that your feelings of loneliness will come and go.
6. Figure out the cause of your loneliness. Before trying to pick solutions to your loneliness, first figure out why you are feeling lonely right now. Did you recently come out of a relationship and feel lonely? Do you feel like you have friends you can spend time with? Do you feel lonely after spending time with certain people? Are you overwhelmed by work and/or school that you feel you don’t have any time to spend with others? Are you battling social anxiety and struggle to say “yes” to events? Once you identify the cause of your loneliness, you can create a plan to battle the loneliness.
7. Appreciate your life. When you feel lonely, it’s easy to focus on the negatives of your life and what’s missing. Remember that you have a multitude of things in your life that you should be appreciative about. Take time each day to count your blessings and remind yourself of the people and things in your life that make life great.
8. Avoid social media. Social media is something that people routinely check, from morning to night time. However, constantly browsing social media can make your feelings of loneliness worse. Also, social media doesn’t reflect reality at all. You might start to draw inaccurate conclusions about your friends based on what they post on social media. You will also fuel your feelings of loneliness by constantly feeling like you are missing out on something rather than appreciating all the good things happening in your life. Social media is great when using it as a medium to join events happening offline, but take a break when you need to. Work on limiting how often you use social media or going cold turkey and deactivating all your social media accounts for a couple of months.
9. Connect to the nature around you. Spending time outdoors can transform your mood for the day and help you appreciate the beautiful surroundings outside your home. When you feel lonely, try to go outside and take a walk or do any kind of exercise. Not only will you be around people just by being outdoors, but you will immediately feel your mood shift in a positive way by being in nature.
10. Keep on top of housework. A great cure to loneliness can involve cleaning your home, reorganizing, tidying up or rearranging your surroundings. Even doing something as simple as making your bed or taking out the trash can help you feel better. Staying on top of your household chores can remind you that you are in control.
11. Get creative. A great way to deal with loneliness is to channel those feelings into a project. Take this time to work on a fun project such as creating a website, writing a story, painting, singing or working on a puzzle. Time will pass by quick when you are doing something fun and relaxing!
12. Nourish your existing relationships. Do you have friends that have reached out to you to hang out? However, instead of saying yes you might give them excuses on why you cannot see them. Does your family routinely call you, but you fail to ever call them? There are likely a few people in your life who value your presence and would enjoy spending time with you. Put yourself out there and invite these people to hang out. You might discover that your loneliness is instantly cured when you start accepting invitations to events or reach out to others and invite them to spend time with you.
13. Do not avoid others. You might have a habit of becoming reclusive when you feel socially excluded. Acknowledge that although there may be people you do not get along with, and will probably never get along with, there are many people who value your presence and want to engage in a friendship with you. It’s easy to avoid situations that seem scary or to believe that everyone doesn’t like you, just because a few people may not like you. There once was a person who hung out with my friends who I know for a fact did not like me. At times it was uncomfortable, I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt, but I knew she did not like my company. I found out from mutual friends that she talked badly about me, told lies about me and had even tried to turn friends against me. This was hurtful but I continued to hang out with my other friends and not avoid them as a result. Remember that you cannot control how other people feel about you, but just because someone doesn’t like being around you, doesn’t mean everyone does. Work on not avoiding others when you feel socially excluded.
14. Enjoy your own company. When a long-term relationship ended several years ago, I had to get used to having fun by myself. I used to love going to movies with my boyfriend at the time, and I still wanted to go out to movies but realized that my friends were not always available. I decided to go to movies by myself. At first it was hard, but then eventually I ended up having fun just being by myself and enjoying a movie. I even travelled by myself to other countries and states. I’d take road trips and bring the dog along or go do a weekend trip overseas. I always had so much fun by myself and so can you. Enjoy your own company because being alone doesn’t mean that you have to feel lonely.
15. Contact someone you can count on. You might have a friend or family member that is always there for you. If you feel upset or sad, you know this person will give you a call, chat with you online or meet up with you for a catch up. Even if you don’t think you have someone in your life that you can count on, give your friends a chance. When I was dealing with a rough time in my life, I reached out to a few people that I considered acquaintances at the time. Shockingly, a couple of the women I reached out to ended up becoming close friends simply because I reached out and asked if we could catch up. Get in touch with people when you feel lonely.
16. Join a support group. You might be in a situation where you feel terribly alone due to the death of a loved one or suddenly losing a job. When you are dealing with personal struggles you might find it difficult to find people who can relate to you. Look for support groups in your area with people who have dealt or are dealing with similar issues to you. Joining a support group can help you realize that there are people out there who understand what you are going through and can help support you through this tough time.
17. Find your tribe. You might be one of those people who has many friends. Yet being around certain types of people can leave you feeling lonely. You could spend hours with someone that you don’t really feel any emotional connection to and still feel lonely. These people tend to be friends you can go out with and do things with, but you generally don’t have any deep conversations with these people. The friendship is superficial. This is a sign that your friends aren’t people you feel very close to. Now is the time to go out and find people that you can share a genuine connection with.
18. Get a hobby. A great way to meet new people is to go out and find a hobby. Do something you genuinely find interesting. Chances are higher that you will meet someone you can connect with if you are doing activities that you both enjoy. I made a couple of friends doing a hiking meetup group. I just went on a couple of hikes and met quite a few cool people who were easy to talk to and down to earth. As a result, I ended up making a couple of long-time friends who are my hiking buddies and who I can have deep and personal conversations with. Try a hobby and give yourself time to meet new people.
19. Invite people over. If you cannot travel far due to an illness or disability, then you can still connect with people. Let friends know that you would like some company and can grab take away and watch a movie at home. You can plan a game night or even just have people over to have conversation and enjoy snacks. Whenever you feel like you are stuck at home due to an illness or disability, then find reasons for friends to come to you.
20. Say yes to events. Get in the habit of saying yes to social events, even events that you might initially not find interesting. I made a couple of great friends by agreeing to go to events that I didn’t find interesting. Although the event wasn’t that interesting, I ended up having great conversation with several people and made friends as a result. I know that saying “no” to social events may feel easy, particularly if you struggle with social anxiety or pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. But agreeing to social invitations may be the step you need to take to work on your loneliness.
21. Get a pet. If you are ready and committed to the responsibility of owning a pet, then consider getting one. The great thing about pets is that they provide you with companionship and get you out of the house. If you own a dog, you need to get out of the house to provide it with daily walks. You also need to get out of bed to help feed and take care of your pet. Pets provide amazing companionship and are highly recommended if you can commit to care for your animal for its entire life. A pet is a huge responsibility so only consider owning a pet if you are ready for that responsibility.
22. Volunteer. Helping others is a great way to socialize and meet other people. Also helping others in need helps you appreciate the great things in your life and realize that you have valuable skills that can help others.
23. Maintain a habit of fostering connection. You can never avoid loneliness but you can work on creating healthy habits so that you can cope with these feelings once they arise. Remember there’s nothing wrong with feeling lonely every so often. What’s important is learning how to deal with these feelings by learning how to enjoy being alone and reaching out to others when you need to. If you feel lonely, it’s okay. It’s a normal feeling and everyone gets lonely at times. Remember it’s just another day and tomorrow, or later this week, you might feel much better!