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How to Deal with Loneliness: Tips for Peace of Mind in 2023

It’s normal to feel lonely sometimes, but too much loneliness can take a real toll on your mental health. Here are some strategies to help you cope.
by Tania Strauss | Jan 30 2023

Loneliness is something everyone will experience occasionally, but that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. It’s a uniquely troubling feeling, and it’s different from simply being alone.

You can be by yourself without feeling lonely, and you can be lonely when surrounded by people if you feel disconnected from them or misunderstood. Certain life events, like a breakup, the death of a family member, a big move, or a global pandemic, can trigger feelings of intense isolation – but loneliness can also creep up at unexpected times. 

Excessive loneliness can be bad for your mental and physical health, causing depression and even physical pain. But episodes of loneliness are also a natural part of life, which most of us will experience at one point or another.

So the trick, as with all feelings, is to acknowledge and honor what you’re going through, and think about what you can do to soothe yourself – and guard against loneliness in your future. 

So if you feel like loneliness is creeping into your life, here are some great things you can do:

First, acknowledge the loneliness you’re feeling

When we experience an unpleasant emotion, especially one we’re not sure how to deal with or fix, it can be tempting to push the feeling away by distracting yourself. But unless these “distractions” are deliberately geared towards improving your situation (simply drowning yourself in work doesn’t count), the loneliness will linger under the surface and rear its head in unguarded moments.

And the longer you ignore these upsetting feelings, the longer you’ll go without really addressing their root causes – and the more entrenched they’re likely to become.

So let yourself feel the loneliness, even if it’s hard. It may help to simply let yourself cry, or journal about what you’re experiencing as a way of exploring the roots of your loneliness.

Trying to pinpoint why you’re feeling lonely can help you identify what you feel is lacking in your life – which will make remedying the problem much easier.  

Seek support

If your loneliness is seriously impacting your mental health and quality of life, and you’re not sure how to handle it, you could also seek the help of a therapist or support group. This may be especially helpful if your loneliness is triggered by a circumstance that you’re not sure how to deal with or move on from.

Therapy and structured support can not only help you get at the root causes of your loneliness but help you develop an action plan to address it. 

More immediately, if you have friends and family who you feel close to, it can help to reach out to them – especially if they’re people who you can be honest with when you’re having a hard time. 

If part of the problem you’re facing is that you feel you don’t have enough close, meaningful relationships in your life, this can be where our next suggestion comes in:

Try out some group activities

If you’re feeling lonely, one of the best things you can do is make some new social contacts, especially those that you have something in common with – the kind of people, in other words, who might develop into real friends. It can take a bit of time to form a really solid friendship, so it’s ideal to find an activity that you would meet regularly with a fixed group of people. 

You can: 

Take a class

Whether you want to dance, learn a language, or try out Mediterranean cooking, signing up for a class can be a great way to not only meet people, but explore a new passion and gain a cool skill. 

Join a team or club

Maybe you want to revisit your childhood chess skills, take up a sport, or delve into feminist fiction. Clubs and teams of all kinds are a great way to explore an interest and hang out with like-minded people.

Clubs are often more explicitly social than classes, so they may meet at people’s houses or include bonuses like pub nights. If you’re not sure where to start, resources like Meetup can be great for finding interest-based activities in your area. 

Do volunteer work

Signing up for regular volunteer work can also connect you to people who share your interests and values. And if you’re helping others, or devoting time to a cause you care about, that can give a sense of purpose to your life that will additionally benefit your mental health.

As an added bonus: research suggests that getting involved in your community and caring for others can literally lengthen your lifespan

Make an animal friend, or two

Abundant research has shown that getting a pet can do wonders in combating loneliness, as well as mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Especially if you live alone, adopting a furry friend can be a wonderful gift to yourself – and to the animal who you’ll be giving a loving home. 

Increase the quality of your alone time

As we touched on before, loneliness is something separate from simply being alone, and it’s very possible to be alone without feeling lonely. If alone time makes you feel bored and disconnected and more susceptible to bad thoughts and feelings, why not focus on turning your alone time into a reward in itself?

Take up a solo hobby

You can learn an instrument, practice writing or drawing, code a game – something that will engage your mind, or even serve as an outlet for expression. If you’re taking a class or have joined a club, alone time is a great chance to practice your skills. 

Take care of your body

Mental health and physical health are intimately connected, and if you don’t feel good physically you’re a more likely to feel bad mentally – and even become depressed. What makes you personally feel good can vary, but exercise will release happy hormones and increase your sharpness and focus.

Eating healthy will give you more energy. A meditation or yoga practice, or even something basic like deep breathing and stretching, can help you get in touch with your body and release stress. 

Taking care of your body can also include getting in touch with your senses, whether it’s by taking a hot bath, lighting some pleasant incense, eating delicious food – or masturbating. 

Decrease your screen time

Whether it’s excessive social media use (generally recognized to be terrible for mental health), doom scrolling through the news, or getting into arguments with people on message boards –  all these things are likely to make you feel isolated or generally bad about your life and the world. 

On the other hand, watching a satisfying movie can be a really pleasurable way to spend some alone time. So can the occasional TV binge – as long as you’re not spending all your time in front of Netflix.

The internet can also be a good way to connect with people who share your interests and even make IRL friends, and online groups can also be a great place to turn to for support when dealing with stuff like loneliness. The trick is to make sure you’re not living your whole life online – that you’re creating real experiences and connections to combat the isolation you’ve been experiencing and make loneliness a thing of the past. 

 

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