9 Simple Steps To Help Deal With Loneliness

9 Simple Steps To Help Deal With Loneliness

9 Simple Steps To Help Deal With Loneliness

Loneliness is the disease of the modern world. We stay connected via electronics but often struggle to connect on a deeper level or deal with loneliness. The connection we have is superficial and what was supposed to facilitate contact, only makes us feel more isolated.

Loneliness has been recognised as having three dimensions:

  • intimate loneliness
  • relational loneliness
  • collective loneliness. [1]

Intimate loneliness is our need for emotional closeness, having a person in our lives who can support us such as a partner or a best friend.

Relational loneliness refers to friendships and relationships with family.

Collective loneliness is connecting in a collective space, for example, being a part of an activity group, forming connections as a part of a team or at school.

While loneliness is a common experience, social isolation can have various consequences; depressive symptoms, anxiety, fatigue, disrupted sleep, increased risk of dementia and mortality. [2]

Below we present a few things you can do to decrease loneliness.

1. Talk about your feelings

Loneliness makes you feel like you’re the most isolated person in the world but it’s an issue that many people struggle with. The data from April suggests that the number of adults that feel lonely often might be as high as 3.7 million. [3]

If talking to friends isn’t an option, find an online forum and reach out to other people with similar problems. You’ll realise that you’re not the only one feeling this way no matter how unlikely it might seem right now, and you might end up making friends.

2. Read a book

The great thing about books is that whether you want it or not, you end up forming connections with characters while following their story.

Previous research shows that reading a book mimics collective identity which is akin to spending time with a group of friends. While it might not be the same as having friends that exist off pages, reading can alleviate the feeling of isolation and satisfy our need for belonging. [4]

3. Join a community

One of the best options is doing volunteering work and becoming a part of a great cause. Performing an act of kindness will make you feel needed and purposeful.

While loneliness can be seen as selfish because you have the need to have someone who understands you, doing something kind for another person and not expecting anything in return will help you achieve a different kind of fulfilment and strengthen the sense of belonging.

4. Sit down with your feelings

Sometimes loneliness can be confused with emptiness. We might crave the presence of other people to use them as a distraction from our problems and not because of a genuine need to connect.

To find out what’s bothering you, try to keep a journal where you write down your thoughts and feelings.

5. Sign up for a class

Trying something new will bring back a sense of excitement in your life. Loneliness isn’t only an isolating feeling, it makes you doubt yourself as a person as well as your abilities.

To boost your confidence, sign up for a class and set small goals. You might also end up making friends in the process.

6. Devote time to your passion

When we are in a negative mood, we’re convinced we will be lonely forever and might subconsciously isolate ourselves instead of reaching out and trying to find a connection.

Devoting time to your hobby will help you boost your mood and battle thoughts that make you believe you’re not good enough. Additionally, having a hobby might help you find like-minded people.

7. Spend time with a pet

Pets are the best source of joy and companionship and satisfy our need for affection. When we play with our pets, our brain produces feel-good hormones that reduce stress.

8. Aim to spend more time with your family

When personal life gets in the way, it might be challenging to find time for your family but nurturing a connection with loved ones is important.

Previous findings suggest that frequent contact with friends and family equals less loneliness, however, relationship quality plays a significant role. [5]

Aim to plan some bonding activities with your family, such as cooking together or family trips.

9. Make an effort to be more social

Connections aren’t formed straight away and sometimes we try to force them where they aren’t meant to be. Compatibility is a real issue that doesn’t only refer to couples – evaluate whether you and your friend are a good match.

Perhaps you’ve been friends for a long while but drifted away and no longer connect at the same level. Instead of trying to force an old friendship, it’s okay to make new connections.

Reach out to an acquaintance or someone from your past and aim to get to know them better.

When things become too much, don’t be afraid to ask for help. 

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4391342/
[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6179015/
[3] https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/wellbeing/articles/mappinglonelinessduringthecoronaviruspandemic/2021-04-07
[4] https://www.jstor.org/stable/25835489
[5] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16181443/

If you are feeling pressured or need someone to speak to, contact My Family Psychologist for a confidential chat about how we may be able to help.

You can contact the My Family Psychologist Offices between 8 am and 8 pm to book an appointment.

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