Are you feeling lonely? Do you feel like no one understands you? It’s okay to feel lonely because everyone does at some point in their lives.
However, if your loneliness has lasted more than three months, if it’s interfering with your job or relationships, or if it makes you feel depressed or anxious, you may want to talk to a counselor or psychologist about what’s causing your feelings of loneliness and how to combat them.
Below are 12 ways that might help you get through the feelings of loneliness you may be experiencing at this time in your life.
What it Means to Feel Lonely
Feeling lonely is a complex and subjective experience that can manifest in many different ways. Generally, it refers to a sense of isolation or disconnection from others, which can be the result of any number of factors.
Some common causes of loneliness include social isolation, feelings of inadequacy or insecurity, grief or loss, trauma or abuse, or simply a mismatch between one’s expectations of what life should be like and the reality of day-to-day interactions with others.
If you are experiencing feelings of loneliness, there are many strategies that you can try to help combat these feelings.
12 Ways to Combat Feeling Lonely
1) Explore Local Interest Groups
If you’re a working professional, it can be tough to make new friends when you spend all day in an office.
It’s time for an intervention! Join your local chapter of Toastmasters, which is just one of many organizations that offer a supportive community for professionals who want to hone their communication skills (and be more social). If group discussions aren’t your thing, look into professional organizations that cater to your specific line of work.
From photography enthusiasts at Professional Photographers of America (PPA) to real estate investors at REIQ, there are plenty of groups where you can meet like-minded people and get involved in conversations that interest you.
2) Plan Some Alone Time in Your Schedule
It’s easy to feel lonely in a crowd. Sometimes all we need is a little time on our own. When you have a big group of friends, it can be hard to carve out that time, but even as little as 15 minutes alone every few days will help give you some peace and quiet.
Try scheduling an uninterrupted hour or so every week just for yourself, or set aside one day of each weekend just for hanging out by yourself.
If possible, do something creative—drawing, writing, cooking—but if creativity isn’t your thing, don’t force it! Just focus on decompressing and spending time on your own terms.
3) Reach Out to Family and Friends
If you’re feeling lonely, reach out to your friends and family! Most people feel most comfortable around those with whom they have a close relationship. Plus, getting together with loved ones offers a convenient way to fight loneliness.
By hanging out and chatting, you’ll stay connected and keep your mind off of how isolated you may be feeling at that moment.
If you don’t know where or who will listen or be there for you when you need them, it can be difficult to bring yourself to make these calls – but taking action is essential when it comes to combating loneliness.
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness; it’s an indication that you care about your well-being enough that you’re willing to put forth some effort in order to improve it.
4) Be Kind to Yourself
When you’re feeling down, it can be easy to forget all of your positive qualities and accomplishments. Remind yourself what you’re capable of by creating a list of things that you’ve done well in your life.
Keep it somewhere handy and look at it whenever you’re feeling lonely or depressed; go back through it as often as needed. Or, start a gratitude journal where you list one thing each day that made you happy.
Either way, remind yourself that your life is full of positive moments worth celebrating!
5) Find a Relevant Support Group Online
As you go through life, you’ll inevitably run into problems. Some may seem insurmountable; others, not so much.
However, if you feel like your struggle is too big to handle alone or it doesn’t seem like anyone else could possibly understand what you’re going through, it might be time to start connecting with people who share your problems and will understand what you’re going through.
Online support groups are a good place to find people in similar situations, either geographically close or far away but all feeling connected because of a particular issue.
6) Meditate or Do Yoga
When people think of meditation, they often imagine someone sitting in a meditative pose for long periods of time.
But that’s not what most people do during meditation. In fact, experts recommend meditating for as little as three minutes at a time. There are two ways to meditate: mindfulness and mantra-based.
7) Set Boundaries with Other People in Your Life
Sometimes when we’re lonely, it can be easy to give in and hang out with people that we don’t really enjoy.
We all have those friends who live at our house and eat our food on a regular basis but don’t really feel like family.
While it may seem like a good idea in theory, having constant human interaction with people who aren’t fulfilling your needs can actually make you feel more isolated.
Set boundaries with people in your life that are only there for selfish reasons (you know who they are), or if someone is making you feel bad about not being around them all of the time.
8) Get Creative and Learn Something New
There’s no better way to combat loneliness than by being creative and learning something new.
It can be as simple as picking up a good book or exploring a new hobby. Taking time to discover your passions will help you feel like yourself again.
For hobbies, there are a number of great online resources that can provide inspiration. If you prefer, you can take your search offline and visit local libraries or bookstores!
9) Start Gardening
Gardening has been shown to lower blood pressure, decrease stress and boost self-esteem.
On days when you’re feeling particularly lonely, pull out your gardening tools and spend a few hours in your garden.
Even if you don’t have a green thumb, it still feels nice—and productive—to be working with nature. Bonus: Picking up some veggies for dinner is always a plus.
10) Start Playing Board Games With Others
Playing games with friends or even family is a great way to combat feelings of loneliness.
If you’re playing with people online, make sure you create a game that fosters conversation and gets people excited about interacting with each other. Playing board games is not only fun, but it will make your social media profile more interesting as well.
Try out any of these games if you need some instant nostalgia!
11) Get into books
One of the easiest ways to fight loneliness is by reading. If you’re not a reader, try starting with an easy book that has nothing to do with your degree.
It will provide you with hours of entertainment and may even inspire you in new directions!
To start your collection, head over to your local library or bookstore. You can also sign up for Amazon Prime and use Audible. They have more than 180,000 titles available as audiobooks, so it’s easy to find something you’ll love.
Once you get through a few titles, there are lots of other perks, like recommendations based on what you’ve listened to and a program that reads books out loud so you can listen while driving or cooking dinner.
12) Volunteer for a good cause
Helping others makes us feel good about ourselves, and increases our self-esteem in an important way.
When we lack a sense of purpose, we can often feel lonely or depressed, which can affect our overall mental health. So don’t forget to volunteer your time and talent for a good cause!
You’ll find that you not only help other people but also help yourself in ways you never expected.
Whether it’s mentoring younger people, helping with homework, or volunteering at a homeless shelter—it doesn’t matter how big or small it is—every bit counts when it comes to helping others.
If you’re feeling lonely and isolated, there are many ways to combat these feelings. Whether it’s getting creative, learning a new skill, or volunteering your time for a good cause, there is always something that can help you feel better about yourself.
No matter what you try, just remember that it’s important to take care of yourself, and reach out to others if you need support. So take some time for self-care, and get out there to enjoy all that life has to offer!