Dealing with loneliness isn’t easy. While it may sound harmless (oh, you’re just feeling a little lonely, no big whoop), loneliness can affect your health both mentally and physically. And the really rough thing? Loneliness is tricky. It makes you want to avoid others and hide out in your home until the dust settles. Which just makes you even lonelier.
I’ve been experiencing some extreme loneliness lately. I’m currently spending three months in Argentina and haven’t had as many opportunities to interact with other humans as I’d like. And the worst part? The longer I stay isolated, the less and less motivated I am to hang out with others.
Find out how to feel better when you’re dealing with loneliness.
Tips for Dealing With Loneliness
1. Give It a Name
Sometimes loneliness can sneak up on us. I for one struggle from both loneliness and too much social interaction. And I don’t even realize what’s happening until it’s too late.
If I’m struggling with too much social interaction, I might end up confining myself to my apartment, alone, for several days. If I’m struggling with loneliness, I’ve generally confined myself alone, in my apartment for too many days.
And before I know it, this awful feeling washes over me. Is it depression? Is it self-doubt? It’s usually categorized with negative self-talk and feelings of ‘not good enough.’
It sometimes takes a while to discover it’s loneliness I’m feeling. I usually need to stop and ask myself when was the last time I spent quality time around others?
If it’s been awhile, it’s usually loneliness.
Giving the emotion a name helps to take its power away and is one of the best was to start dealing with loneliness. Kind of like an emotional Rumpelstiltskin. At the very least, the self-diagnosis is usually the first step toward the treatment.
2. Remind Yourself That Just Because Your Lonely Doesn’t Mean You’re Alone
Loneliness is something everyone struggles with. No one is special when it comes to loneliness. Remembering that it’s a normal feeling can help you remove some of the sting.
Like depression, loneliness often lies. It tells us that we’re no good. We’re not lonely. We’re sad because no one likes us. Who would want to hang out with us? No wonder we’re so miserable. We clearly deserve to feel this way.
But that’s just not true.
3. Make Friends With Your Loneliness
Sometimes our most negative experiences can be our best teachers. If I’m feeling particularly lonely, I try to ask myself what I can learn from this experience.
My go-to when it comes to loneliness is to binge watch TV, drink a bottle of wine and eat a bag of pistachios. I’ve found that’s a great way to squash loneliness. But you know what? It squashes every other feeling in your body, too.
We as humans were built to experience a range of emotions. Happiness, anger, sadness, frustration. When we deny ourselves the ability to feel one feeling over the other, we’re denying ourselves an important human experience.
Yeah, yeah. I know. Womp, womp. That’s so easier said in theory than it is done in practice.
There are a lot of times when I get lonely and even the thought of making friends with my loneliness? I just can’t even.
If that resonates with you, my advice is to make a deal with yourself to make friends with loneliness for 30 seconds. Sit, meditate, pray, practice EFT — whatever you can do for 30 seconds to sit with that loneliness. Or, maybe for you it’s even less time.
Emma Seppälä, Ph.D., author of The Happiness Track, suggests calming your loneliness with an activity that doesn’t distract from it. When we distract from feelings, our brains categorize them as ‘bad’. But when we can sit with the feeling and make friends with it, we might be able to accept — and even enjoy it.
We can even savor loneliness if we’re open to it. What is savoring? A mindfulness practice that helps us stay in the moment (even not-so-good ones).
4. Make Friends With Yourself
Turns out, self-esteem plays a huge role in loneliness. If you don’t believe you’re worthy of the company of other people — or, if you have social anxiety that keeps you from being around others — you may find yourself alone more.
In fact, a 2013 study cited low self-esteem as a risk factor for loneliness in adolescence. Loneliness is heavily linked to ‘Deaths of Dispair‘ as well as alcoholism, drug abuse, overeating, nicotine use and other behaviors that can lead to early death.
Humans by design were made to be around others. As an introvert, that’s sometimes hard for me to wrap my brain around.
Yet, one of the things you can do if your someone who habitually enjoys being alone is to make friends with yourself. Even if you’re an introvert who regains energy through alone-time, you don’t need to let the low self-esteem monster take over.
Practicing self-love meditations and techniques can help remind you that sometimes you’re alone because you choose to be. Not because others don’t want to be around you.
5. Make a Plan to Make Plans
Even if you can’t fathom leaving the house right now, make a plan to make plans. Sometimes loneliness is a sign we’ve been isolated from others for too long.
While dealing with loneliness isn’t always a sign to meet up with others (for example, if you find it difficult to be alone for even small periods of time and you’re around other people for most of your day), it can signal the need to find your community.
Yet, if you’ve been feeling isolated, making a plan to meet up with others immediately can feel a little daunting. That’s why I like to simply create a reminder on my calendar to reach out to a few friends and see if anyone is available to meet up within the next few weeks or so.
6. Find a Support Group
Again, loneliness is not a you problem. It’s an everybody problem. Sometimes talking to other people who are going through the same problems you struggle with can be easier than talking to friends.
In fact, it can be better to talk to a support group than a friend group. Friends often try to make us feel better because they want us to feel better. They might be tired of talking about loneliness or maybe they just don’t want to see you hurting anymore.
When you’re dealing with loneliness, support groups give you support and guidance and allow you to come to terms with your feelings on your own time.
7. Talk to a Therapist
I think everyone should be in therapy. I don’t know anyone whose life is 100 percent perfect. If your loneliness is too much to handle on your own, talking to a licensed professional can help.
Depending on the type of therapy your therapist specializes in, you could get tips for curbing loneliness or maybe you’ll just explore your feelings of loneliness in a safe setting.
If you’re finding it difficult to leave the house, I recommend online or chat therapy through Talkspace. You can even video chat with a therapist through the app!
Can You Cure Loneliness?
Dealing with loneliness? Scientists and researchers have been developing a pill to cure loneliness. Since loneliness makes us want to be alone more than it makes us want to reconnect, it’s kind of a double-edged sword.
But researchers studied loneliness in a 2017-to-2019 study. They found that giving 400mg oral doses of pregnenolone to lonely subjects helped to reduce the physical effects of loneliness.
The pill could conceivably help people drop the physical associations of loneliness long enough to rejoin society. Ultimately, humans are social creatures, and we’re hardwired to connect with each other. This means, the more you can get out and interact with other humans? The healthier and happier you’ll feel.
Are you dealing with loneliness? How do you treat your loneliness when it rears its ugly head? Do you think a pill could be the answer to curing it? Leave a comment below!
Hey, hey! Just a few things before you leave… this post contains affiliate links, so if you buy something after clicking on a one, I might (fingers crossed!) just get a little commission. Good news: I only recommend products that I love! Which means you can feel good about all of my recs.
Also, you should know that I’m not a doctor. More importantly, I’ve never played one on TV. Always consult your doctor before taking any advice from me (or anyone else on the internets for that matter).
If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.