Have you ever been in a crowded room and still felt lonely? The truth is, you can feel lonely anywhere, anytime – no matter how many people are physically around you.
While it’s normal to feel lonely or isolated from time to time, too much loneliness can be unhealthy or even dangerous. But if you’re sick of feeling lonely and are keen to change that, we’ve put together a guide to help make that happen.
Remind yourself it’s not just you.
Firstly, it is crucial to admit that you aren’t alone in this. There are other people who are fighting off the same, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Now, this doesn’t mean you should necessarily lean into the loneliness simply because others are dealing with it, too. It’s a great opportunity to remember that, just like anyone else, you have the power to get yourself out of this situation.
Hang out with like-minded people.
Everyone has some passion. Sometimes, sharing your passion with others does not only open you up to more friendship; it may even enhance your talents in surprising ways! Joining a club is an awesome way to meet and connect with like-minded people.
Check out your school, university or local community center to see if they run any groups you might vibe on. You can also find an online forum that could possibly help you out.
You might find talking to other people about things you feel passionate about or topics you enjoy helps you feel more connected—even if you’ve never met them in-person!
Take a step back from social media.
Social media isn’t inherently bad or problematic, but if scrolling through your feeds makes you feel left out and stressed, take a few steps back. That feed doesn’t tell the whole story at all.
You have no idea if those people are truly happy or just giving the impression that they are. Either way, it’s no reflection on you. So, take a deep breath and put it in perspective.
Perform a test run and ban yourself from social media for 48 hours. If that makes a difference, try giving yourself a daily limit of 10 to 15 minutes and stick to it.
Do something creative, no matter how simple.
It need not be earth-shatteringly creative. Try a coloring book or a jigsaw puzzle, make a collage, or experiment with needlework of some kind. Or think outside the box and come up with something that is fun and soothing for you to do.
This will engage your brain muscles and release a flow of hormones that will promote your well-being.
When you’re feeling isolated, volunteering helps to get you out into the world and connects you with the community around you. Focusing on the needs of others steers your mind away from sad thoughts.
Research volunteer opportunities in your neighborhood. It’s important to find something that feels right to you. Make sure their needs are a good fit with what you’re willing and able to do.
It’s impossible to feel lonely when you’re feeding the homeless, reading to kids at an orphanage, or dancing with grandmas at a salsa class. Helping the less fortunate will also fill you with immense gratitude.
Do something random and spontaneous.
Loneliness is sometimes accompanied with boredom. And some spontaneous randomness would drive away your sadness.
It can be small things like taking a different route to work, hopping on a random bus to go to the other side of the city where you have never been to, or traveling to a foreign country to get lost in translation.
Such randomness brings you excitement when you’re discovering something new. Every minute is new to you that it’s like an adventure.
Acknowledge things you’re grateful for.
Research shows that gratefulness can boost feelings of happiness and hopefulness. It’s easy to take things for granted as you go about your day. This makes it important to devote some time to reflect on the things you’re grateful for.
Make a list — mental or physical — of the things in your life that you appreciate. The next time you’re alone and feeling down, whip out this list to remind yourself of everything you have going for you.
Adopt a pet.
Animals are great at making us feel connected and cared for. Pets, especially dogs and cats, can reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and ease loneliness. If you’re not ready for the responsibility of owning a pet, you could always get into pet minding.
Ask your neighbors and friends if they have a dog you could take for a walk occasionally, or a cat you could come over to visit and pet. If all else fails, head to a dog park! Added bonus, everyone loves animals, so hanging out with a pet is a guaranteed way to meet new people.
Make plans for solo outings.
Find interesting things to do and put them on your calendar. Give yourself something to look forward to. After all, anticipation is half the fun. Plus, seeing it on your calendar might also help you follow through.
Visit a nearby town and stay in a bed and breakfast. Attend a local festival or buy a ticket to a concert or that amazing art exhibit everyone’s talking about. Plan for something you’re really interested in and make it happen.
Get professional help.
If you’ve tried a couple of these steps and are still feeling lonely, don’t be afraid to seek professional help. It’s okay to get the support you need.
Talking to a mental health professional might help you make more meaningful connections with people and it may also help you discover strategies for coping with loneliness in a healthy way. Don’t forget: everyone has times when they feel lonely.