Loneliness can feel like a deep ache, and it’s tempting to numb that pain in unhealthy ways. However, if you avoid engaging with your loneliness, you can also numb yourself to joy—and rob yourself of the chance to address underlying issues that are preventing you from living your best life.
Instead, try to actively tackle your loneliness by doing one or more of these things as soon as you feel lonely.
Whether you catch up with a friend, make contact with a grandparent or schedule a Skype with a young child in the family, seeking out a tangible connection immediately helps to reduce loneliness and remind you that you matter to people.
Browsing through your Facebook feed won’t help you when you’re feeling lonely. In fact, studies suggest these types of sites can make you feel worse about yourself when you’re low. Disconnect from people’s artificial representations of their lives, and reconnect with your own, real life.
Fire up YouTube and teach yourself a fun new dance. You’ll get yourself moving and get endorphins flowing. As a bonus, you’ll burn a few calories and do something to tone your muscles too. And if you really want to up the fun and silliness factor, dance in your underwear—an often-underrated perk of being on your own!
Doing volunteer work is a wonderful way to increase your confidence and give back to your community. In addition, it’s an easy, natural way to bond with like-minded people, reducing feelings of loneliness in the longer term.
You can make friends all over the world through a blog, so think of something you’d like to write about and get started today. By reading and commenting on other people’s blogs, you’ll soon start to network and feel less alone.
There are hundreds of inspiring TED talks on every possible topic you can think of. So whether you want to brush up on history, enhance your understanding of human psychology or get tips that will help you succeed in love, you’re sure to find something that eases your feelings of loneliness.
Think of five people you’d like to reconnect with—maybe old friends from college, former colleagues or even individuals you remember from school—and write a short message to each of them. Simply ask how they are, express an interest in their life, and tell them a bit about whether you are these days. You never know—you could be reducing their loneliness too.
Research proves that those who deliberately take the time to express gratitude tend to be happier, so add this habit to your life. You could make an agreement with a friend to share something you’re grateful for every day, or keep a gratitude journal.
Dig out a favorite movie from your childhood, put on your favorite comedy show or investigate a new drama that has caught your eye. While you won’t literally be interacting with the characters on screen, involving yourself in captivating or funny fictional scenarios can do a lot to improve your mood.
On a similar note, it’s worth building up a collection of novels to turn to when you’re at a loose end. Once again, you can make real connections with the mindsets and experiences of fictional characters, and some of the wisdom in a good book can help to treat underlying feelings of sadness.
With some old magazines, a corkboard, scissors and glue, you have all you need to create a vision board depicting the life you want to lead. It can serve as a concrete reminder that it’s possible to turn your dreams into reality, and can assist you in keeping difficult times in perspective. Check out our FREE toolkit for a detailed guide on how to create your own life map.
Hug your pet if you have one! And if you don’t, arrange to spend time with someone else’s, or go somewhere where you can interact with one. You can even combine this idea with the volunteering suggestion above, making both human and animal friends at a shelter.
While a therapist won’t be your friend, they can help you with loneliness in two respects—they can provide you with deep understanding, and can also assist you in getting to the root causes of your loneliness. Plus, you can strategize together to find ways to be less lonely going forward.
Finally, note that loneliness is a transient experience and you just need some time to reset your brain in order to feel better. Take a 20-minute nap, and see if you still feel low when you wake up—in many cases, you’ll notice a tangible difference in energy.
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