Loneliness is a prevailing and burdensome emotion we frequently bear in our modern lives. As with many other painful emotions, we often try to ignore our hurt instead of treating ourselves with the necessary compassion and self-care we need. Rather than suppressing your feelings or getting caught up in the “why,” consider the following suggestions as a guide when you feel lonely.
1. If You Can, Reach Out to Someone Directly.
I know this takes a lot of courage. You may be thinking people won’t want to hear from you, or it’s a waste of time. This cannot be further from the truth. In fact, any interaction, no matter how small, will make you feel more connected. So rather than reach out to the friend you haven’t spoken to in years or the family member you have baggage with, build up your social muscles with a tiny success: text a low-maintenance friend a simple “Hey, what’s up?” or call your nagging aunt who always wants to hear about your life. They’ll appreciate it, and you’ll remember there are people out there who care about you.
2. If You Live in a City, Go for a Walk Around Your Neighborhood.
Seeing other people can help calm that lonely feeling. Make eye contact with people as you pass them on the street. Stop somewhere to buy a coffee. If you don’t see anyone and you can’t afford to spend money, just look at the buildings and houses as you pass them. Try to create an image of who might work or live there, and realize they are a part of your community.
3. Watch Yoga Videos on YouTube.
Search “yoga for loneliness” or something similar, and pick one to watch all the way through. Yoga is a powerful way to stir your energy and tune into the connection between your mind and body. If you don’t do yoga (though I encourage you to try), just listen to the soothing voice of the instructor, repeat the mantras they invite you to speak, and consider how many people around the world have come to this practice feeling the same way as you do.
4. Rewatch a Nostalgic Sitcom.
There is research proving this works, and it has nothing to do with laughter. As we get to know the characters, they become familiar to us, like family. We essentially sit ourselves in their living room, comforted by the fact we know what they are going to say or do next. I don’t particularly think Friends is all that funny, but it’s a go-to of mine when I am feeling lonely. Of course, it’s a bonus if it is also laugh-out-loud funny. So go and rewatch your favorite sitcom yet again.
5. Journal Your Thoughts.
Your thoughts can cause mental exhaustion. Help clear up some mental space by putting your thoughts into words. It doesn’t matter how you do it: open a note on your phone, pull out a piece of notebook paper, text yourself, use up some of that Google storage space, whatever — just let your thoughts flow free without censorship. There’s a reason why this piece of advice has been around forever: as corny as it sounds, it is immensely therapeutic.
Remember, you never have to suffer through loneliness on your own. If you feel like you can’t connect with anyone or your persistent ache is more than you can bear, do not be reluctant to seek counseling. A good therapist can help you work through your feelings, provide a caring and non-judgmental ear, and help you construct a path to more fulfilling relationships.