Loneliness isn’t always about being alone. It’s actually a state of mind where the human contact we crave seems out of reach, leaving us feeling empty and disconnected.
The causes and solutions for loneliness can differ from person to person, and when left unaddressed, it can negatively impact our physical and mental health.
Loneliness can leave us feeling sad, stressed, tired and apathetic. It can also interfere with sleep and weaken our immune systems, so it’s important to take care of ourselves when we’re feeling lonely.
Small Ways to Practice Self-Care
This Headspace meditation teaches us small ways to practice self-care during difficult times.
Yoga for Loneliness
This simple video from Yoga with Adrienne is designed for anyone who is lonely or has ever felt alone. Spend 20-minutes filling the body with breath and to help shake off anxiety and apathy.
It’s important to explore what makes us lonely and what situations intensify those feelings. Sometimes our instinct is to conclude that we’re lonely because we’re unlikable, unappreciated or simply unwanted. Don’t be so hard on yourself and instead look inside. Often, the reality is that we create walls, obstacles or situations that contribute to feeling lonely. So dig deeper. Are there any controllable aspects of your life that are making you feel lonely?
When we’re lonely, it’s easy to succumb to unhelpful blanket statements like, “I’m unlovable.” But if we start examining what’s really going on inside, we’ll make important discoveries about the situations that trigger loneliness. Maybe it’s after spending a lot of time scrolling through social media or hanging out with certain friends. The more you understand about what contributes to your loneliness, the more you can change routines or interactions to help lessen negative feelings.
As you identify what makes you feel more alone, it’s also important to explore the parts of your life that make you feel more connected. Does talking to a certain friend or family member make you feel less lonely? Does taking a group exercise class or volunteering make you feel more like you belong? When we identify the people and things that add value to our lives, we can focus our energies on feeling better.
This episode of Glad You Asked explores what causes loneliness, how it affects our health and what we can do to address it.
If you’re experiencing loneliness, try these ways to feel better.
Redefine what it means to be connected
Social media has many of us so focused on followers and likes that we lose touch with what relationships are all about. Connection isn’t about the quantity of “friends” we have, it’s about that small group of people who really know us and support us.
Focus on important relationships
It might feel like combating loneliness means adding more people or activities to our lives, but sometimes it’s more about appreciating and deepening relationships with friends and family members who are already in our lives.
Talk about it
Talking more openly about lonely feelings can help. But if you’re in one of those phases of your life where you don’t have someone to talk to, that’s okay. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to find a therapist or counselor using the resources below.
Maybe you work from home and have trouble getting motivated to go out, or you struggle with confidence or self-esteem. These obstacles can contribute to feelings of loneliness, but it helps to identify the ones that you can move out of your way and make a plan to overcome them.
Meet people with shared interests
Look for opportunities to do things with people who have similar interests. Take classes, join local organizations, or connect with an online or community group. Putting the emphasis on shared interests helps break the ice, creates instant bonds, and gives everyone something in common.
Doing good does us good
Volunteering is a chance to work alongside like-minded people. But more than just the opportunity to meet new people, the very act of giving back also supports our mental health by making us feel more connected to our community.
If feelings of loneliness lasts an extended period of time, it’s important to reach out for support to prevent further impact on our well-being. Mental health professionals can help us explore the causes of our loneliness and ways to overcome it.