12 Tips To Deal With Loneliness

July 26, 2023   •  Posted in: 

Everyone feels lonely sometimes – but that doesn’t make this emotion any less painful to deal with. There is a difference between being alone and feeling lonely. When you feel lonely, it may start to feel like you will never be loved again. Even if there are people in your life who love you, you might start feeling like you don’t deserve their love.

Many things can lead to loneliness, including life events (like divorce, a move, or job loss) and mental health concerns (like social anxiety or depression). Although it’s valid and normal to feel lonely sometimes, there are ways to deal with loneliness and start reconnecting with others.

 

12 ways to ease the pain of loneliness

How to manage loneliness depends on what is causing you to feel lonely. Some people may feel lonely because they don’t have any close relationships. Others may feel lonely even though there are people all around them. They may feel like they don’t have any deep relationships, or feel lonely even when they know they are loved.

Whatever the reason, your feelings of loneliness are valid. Here are 12 tips for easing the pain of loneliness – feel free to choose just a few that sound like they might work for you and your situation.

Acknowledge your feelings

First of all, it’s important to acknowledge what you’re feeling: Loneliness. Naming emotions can take away their power to hurt us. It’s more helpful to stop and accept you are feeling lonely than to try to deny or dismiss these feelings.

Acknowledge that you’re feeling lonely. Then, you can try to understand why you might be feeling this way. Are you feeling lonely due to a specific life event (like a break-up)? Is it a feeling that you’ve lived with for a long time? What would help?

Build deeper connections

Sometimes, we feel lonely even when we’re surrounded by people. This can be a sign the relationships you have are surface-level. You might feel like no one truly knows the “real you,” or you don’t have any deep or meaningful connections with the people in your life.

You can combat this by working to build deeper connections with people. Try to open up. Allow others to see, and love, who you really are. You may feel less lonely when you have people in your life who you can really count on – in good times and in bad.

Try new activities

If you’re lonely because you’re having a hard time meeting people, try new hobbies or activities. You can join a local group or meetup related to an interest you have. What is something you have always wanted to try? Most cities have groups related to almost any interest, from board games to hiking.

Even if it’s something you’ve never tried, challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone. You might find it’s easier to connect with people over shared interests.

Give back

Another way you can meet new people is through volunteering. When choosing a cause to volunteer for, ask the organization what the exact tasks are. You’ll want to choose a volunteer position in which you’ll be interacting with people (whether they are fellow volunteers or clients of the organization). For example, volunteering to sort donations alone in the stock room probably won’t help you to feel less alone.

Even if you don’t make friends volunteering, it can be a great reminder of shared humanity – that we’re all in this together.

Use social media wisely

Social media can be a great tool to combat loneliness, but it needs to be used constructively. Scrolling through social media passively may not help you beat loneliness. In fact, it may make you feel even more lonely if you are comparing your social life to others’ or if likes and follower counts affect your mood.

Instead, use social media to directly connect with people you’d be interested in forming a friendship with. One of the main benefits of social media is that we’re no longer limited to the people who live near us – we can develop meaningful connections with people all over the world.

You can join online groups over shared interests or struggles (such as online mental health support groups). In this way, you can use social media as a tool for connection rather than isolation.

Focus on you

It may seem counterintuitive, but sometimes, the best thing to do when you’re lonely is to take advantage of the alone time to focus on taking care of you.

What are your short- and long-term goals? Outline the steps you need to take to get there, and take action every day. Pick up healthy habits for your mind, like mindfulness or journaling. Make sure you’re also taking care of your physical health by sleeping restfully, eating nourishing meals, and moving your body – physical health is deeply intertwined with mental health.

Join a support group

If loneliness has led to deeper mental health concerns like anxiety or depression for you (or if life concerns have prevented you from developing fulfilling interpersonal relationships in your life), you might consider joining a support group of people who can understand.

For example, a support group for people with depression can teach you skills for healthy relationship-building and mood management. A support group for single parents can help you meet other people who know exactly what you are going through.

Support groups are available in your community and online, and some options may even be free.

Adopt an animal

We tend to think about developing relationships with other humans when we feel lonely. Although human relationships are obviously very important, research shows that people who own pets are less likely to feel lonely. In addition, the studies haven’t found any differences between different pets (like dogs, cats, or other kinds of animals)[1].

If you don’t already have an animal in your home, consider adopting one if your living arrangements allow it. If they don’t, brainstorm ways you can develop a relationship with an animal in your life. Can you volunteer at an animal shelter or offer to dogsit for a friend?

Practice self-compassion

According to Dr. Kristin Neff, a leading researcher in the field, self-compassion has 3 key elements: mindfulness, self-kindness, and shared humanity[2].

When you feel lonely, make sure you are practicing self-compassion. First, mindfully notice how you’re feeling without judgment: “I am feeling lonely.” Next, talk to yourself as you would a dear friend. You might say something like, “It is hard to feel lonely. Everyone deserves to feel loved.”

Then, allow yourself to connect to the shared human experience of loneliness. Remember that people all around the world are feeling lonely at this very moment, and that no one gets through life without ever feeling lonely. Rather than letting loneliness make you feel isolated, allow it to connect you to the world.

Take your time

Don’t rush or pressure yourself into developing relationships before you’re truly ready. This goes for both romantic partnerships as well as friendships. For example, you may have recently gone through a divorce or moved to a new city. You might feel pressure to make friends or start dating immediately.

But you may not be ready, and that’s okay. Take some time to focus on yourself. You can start developing relationships whenever you’re ready. It’s never too late.

Find creative ways for self-expression

Many people benefit from finding ways to express themselves when they feel lonely. For example, you might create music to express loneliness, or journal about feeling lonely. The key is to find a way to understand and express how you are feeling. Keeping feelings bottled up will not make them go away.

Research supports creative methods for dealing with loneliness. In one randomized controlled trial, an art therapy intervention (using clay as a medium) significantly decreased levels of both loneliness and hopelessness for older adults living alone[3].

Talk to a therapist

Lastly, many people benefit from talking to a mental health therapist when they are feeling lonely. You might think therapy is only for people living with mental health disorders, but this isn’t true. A good therapist can provide a safe and confidential space in which you can explore your feelings (including loneliness) and any past experiences that may have led you to where you are today.

 

Heal from loneliness at The Center • A Place of HOPE

Whether you’re feeling lonely because of a life event (like divorce) or due to a mental health concern (like depression), our team at The Center can help. Our mental health treatment programs use a unique Whole Person Care approach. This means we understand deeply that social and relational health is just as important as physical and mental health. We will help you address every part of your life so you can emerge as your true self.

Please call during opening hours, Mon-Fri 9am-5pm PT, Verify Insurance or complete the form below.


[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9272860/
[2] https://self-compassion.org/the-three-elements-of-self-compassion-2/
[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8939254/

Dr. Gregory Jantz

Pioneering Whole Person Care over thirty years ago, Dr. Gregory Jantz is an innovator in the treatment of mental health. He is a best-selling author of over 45 books, and a go-to media authority on behavioral health afflictions, appearing on CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, and CNN. Dr. Jantz leads a team of world-class, licensed, and...

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