Feeling lonely has little to do with being alone. It’s possible to feel lonely in the middle of a crowd, or surrounded by friends and family. Despite the people around us, we can end up feeling isolated. Some may spend a good deal of time alone and not feel lonely at all, while others feel differently.
Loneliness is nothing but a state of mind.
When you start getting sucked into the spiral of feeling isolated, you need to re-evaluate the causes for your loneliness and work proactively to improve your quality of life.
Learn to train your mind to focus on ways to connect rather than isolate. You need to give yourself a push to get back into life. This involves meeting new people, interacting with them, or simply rebuilding your relationships with your loved ones.
Sometimes extreme loneliness is a sign of deeper emotional concerns, like depression and anxiety. While the tips discussed here can help, make sure to seek out personal and professional support if your lonely feelings persist.
Here are a few strategies that can help deal with loneliness:
1. Acknowledge your loneliness. To overcome loneliness, you first need to accept that you're feeling lonely. When you feel lonely, you generally tend to overanalyze. You start thinking, “Am I a loser?”, “Why do I feel so lonely?”. In some cases, people may just deny that they are feeling lonely at all. So instead of overreacting, acknowledge your feeling.
2. Identify the cause. Find out the cause of your loneliness first. What makes you feel lonely? Is it your friends? Is it your work environment or your surroundings? Finding the cause will help you find a solution to deal with loneliness.
3. Express your loneliness. Expressing will help you see where these feelings are coming from. Reaching out to an understanding friend or a family member will help you see that you are not alone and also you will get to talk about your feelings. You can even reach out to a mentor or a counselor.
4. Keep realistic expectations. Most of the times loneliness arises when you have unrealistic expectations about your life. See whether you have such expectations that make it hard for you to connect with others. Do you have high expectations from a new relationship? Are you expecting too much too early in a relationship? Are you relying too much on the other person?
5. Keep yourself busy. One of the major reasons for loneliness is boredom. And one of the essentials of feeling bored is that you have nothing to do. So, instead of dwelling on your lonely thoughts and feelings, try to keep yourself occupied.
Cook a new dish, try a new hairstyle or try your hands at arts and crafts.
6. Don’t be self-focused. To overcome your self-deprecating thoughts, you need to look beyond yourself and think of others. If you get a no for an answer when you invite someone for a cup of coffee, don’t be quick to assume that the person has rejected you. He might be busy or caught up in his work to accept your invitation.
7. Invest time in relationships. Everyone is busy, but relationships won’t wait for you. If you get too caught up in your work and other things in life, you won’t even realize when your kids grow up, or your friends move away. When you build a deeper bond with your family and friends, you stop feeling lonely. Take time out for them and rebuild your relationships.
8. Accept social invitations. Say yes to social invitations even if you don’t feel like attending them. You cannot connect if you isolate yourself or only tend to meet people online.
9. Take the initiative. For making friends, you need to take the initiative and invite others. Don’t wait for others to come and talk to you or invite you. Ask people if they want to chat over a cup of coffee. Be yourself while making new friends. Don’t try to imitate someone else to make new friends.
10. Just show up. When you have plans to meet with others, always make it a point to show up. Just go and meet people, even if you feel awkward at first. It may be easier to cancel the plans, so you don’t have to deal with socializing. By doing so, you are discouraging people from asking you to hang out with them as you always change your plans with them.
11. Be optimistic. When you approach new people, try to keep a positive mindset, especially when you are trying to deal with loneliness. It’s normal to have a fear of rejection, but certain times this feeling can stop you from getting close to people. Rather than giving out an over-cautious and unfriendly vibe, try to get yourself in a positive state of mind so that you can come across as inviting and positive.
12. Be pleasant when you meet people. Be a good company. Give genuine compliments to people when you meet them. Don’t be judgmental and avoid criticizing people. Have a pleasant and enjoyable personality so that people love your company.
13. Be curious about people. When you become interested in people, they will be automatically be attracted to you as you are giving them the attention. Giving attention will often yield attention in return. Curiosity also takes your focus away from your painful feelings.
14. Listen carefully. Listen actively to people in conversations. When you listen to them genuinely, they feel special. This will make them value your company.
15. Ask questions. Encourage people to talk by asking questions. While waiting at a bus stop, ask a fellow passenger, “It’s already late. Do you think the bus will arrive today?” or when you see someone reading a book, ask, “It seems like an interesting book. What is it about?” Engage the people around you.
16. Have friends who are older than you. When you make friends who are older than you, they may help to adjust your perspective on life. Age can bring maturity and a broader view of life and relationships.
17. Unplug from social media. Looking at other people’s social media profiles can do more harm to your mental state when you are already feeling down. When you are comparing your life to others’ life by scrolling through their social media profiles, it tends to make you feel lonelier and creates a feeling of despair.
18. Remember whatever you see online is not always true. Try not to get upset by what you see on other people’s Facebook or Instagram. You may think that everyone is having fun and enjoying their life while you are sulking away. Remember that people project the best of themselves on their online profile so try not to get depressed looking at other people’s photos and posts.
19. Enjoy solitude. When you are with a group of friends or on a date, a large part of your evening is spent pondering over “where do we eat,” or “what do we do?” When you are all alone, you can go to your choice of place and do whatever you love doing. You don’t have to wait for others to agree on a place or to decide on a place.
20. Start a journal. Note down about your feelings and your thoughts. When do you generally feel lonely? What is it that triggers your loneliness? How long do you feel loneliness? Journaling will help you understand your thoughts and feelings better and will help you deal with them. Form a habit of writing down in a journal for 5 minutes every day either in the morning or before you retire to bed.
21. Read an interesting or gripping novel when you feel lonely. Losing yourself in a good uplifting story and relating to it will boost your self-esteem and will give you a sense of adventure.
22. Take a bath. When you start getting sad thoughts, soak yourself in some quality alone time by taking a nice, long, and relaxing bubble bath. Light some scented candles and enjoy a good novel or music to cope with loneliness.
23. Make your bed or clean your room. Making your bed, organizing your desk, cleaning your wardrobe, etc. can make you feel better and in control. It can raise your self-confidence and let you overcome your feelings of loneliness.
24. Scour through old photographs. Go through the collection of your old photos with friends or family members and reminiscence the good old days.
Remembering and talking about all those embarrassing moments and crazy memories will help you look at the happy moments in life. It will drive away loneliness and possibly trigger ideas for how to create more positive memories.
25. Go on a photography expedition. Get out and start clicking beautiful pictures of your surroundings. A cute little puppy, a beautiful butterfly, sunset, or sunrise can make you marvel at nature’s creations and help you forget about your sorrows.
26. Take public transport. Get on a train or a bus to a random destination. When you take public transport, you are forced to travel with strangers; it gives you time to do some soul-searching and also it changes your environment, thereby helping you to shift your focus from depressing thoughts.
27. Explore your city. Be a tourist in your own city. Try out the local delicacy, explore locations you have never been to or never heard of, tour the popular tourist spots.
28. Do some crazy stuff. To shift your focus from depressing thoughts, do crazy things like jumping on your bed or dancing in the rain. These things will give you a good laugh and will help you divert your attention.
29. Run or jog. Running or jogging helps instantly lift your mood and makes you happy. Even 30 minutes of walking can have a positive effect on your mood.
30. Mindfulness meditation. It will help you bring closer to your inner self. Developing a meditation ritual will help you identify your negative thoughts that could make you feel lonely.
31. Catch up with old friends. You might have lost touch with your old friends, or you may have an existing but neglected group of friends. Reconnect with them.
Invite them over for a house party at your place or catch up with them over a cup of coffee. If they are far away, give them a call. They would be delighted to receive your call after such a long time.
32. Go to a movie. Go out and watch a movie alone or with a friend. Watch a chick-flick or a superhero movie with a tub of popcorn or candy floss. Immerse yourself in something that will make you forget about your gloomy and lonely feeling.
33. Watch something funny. Watch a funny video or a standup comedy that you know will make you laugh.
34. Join new clubs or groups. Find someone who is in the same boat as you. If you are a single mom struggling to raise your children and managing your finances all alone, connect with other single moms facing a similar situation. Reach out for support groups to fight your loneliness. There are lots of people who are looking out for friends or meeting new people.
35. Learn something new. Learn a new hobby, a new language, acquire a new skill, or take an educational class. All these can be really effective in overcoming loneliness. When you try new things, you meet new people. It can help you connect with others.
36. Look around for good things in life. Certain times when you focus too much of your time and energy on your own issues, you may often miss the good things in life. Try to notice the positive things that are happening in your life like watching your favorite movie after a long time, getting to eat at your favorite Italian restaurant or having a hearty laugh after watching a funny video. Certain times, simple pleasures of life can make you feel positive.
37. Focusing on the needs of others will help you get over your sad feelings and thoughts while doing something positive in the life of another. Helping someone can also remind you of the things you are grateful for in your own life.
38. Own a pet. Adopt a furry friend. Own a cat, a dog, a turtle, or even a squirrel. When you own an animal, it gives you the responsibility of taking care of something other than yourself. It will help make you forget about your troubles. Pets give back the love you give them and make you feel special with all the attention and love. If you cannot own a pet, help care for other people’s pet or volunteer at a dog shelter.
39. Host a party at home. You don’t always need an expensive wine and cheese or an elaborate menu to host a party at home. Organize a pizza and movie night and invite your friends or family over. Order your favorite Italian meal and a few glasses of traditional cocktail to go with it.
40. Plan a holiday. Plan for a vacation. Look for flights to your favorite destination or any place you want to go; book a hotel in that place and visit.
Sometimes the act of planning a vacation can lift your spirits and help you overcome your negative thoughts.
41. Don’t rely on addictions. Turning to addictions such as alcohol or drugs to deal with loneliness is a recipe for disaster. If you find that you are drinking more than you used to, or drinking alone regularly, it may be time to seek support.
42. Seek professional help. If you just can’t overcome your feelings of loneliness and isolation, talk to a psychologist. A psychologist can help you work through your loneliness. They will help you decide the best course of action.