How to Combat the Feeling of Loneliness

All of us at one point or another in our lives have to deal with the feeling of loneliness. Regardless of what the circumstances may be that lead us to feeling lonely, it is important to remember that you are not the first, and you won’t be the last, to go through it. Loneliness is usually associated with being isolated or alone, but this isn’t always the case. There are also different types of lonely you can feel, whether it be coming from a lack of friendships or relationships in your life. It could be you moving to a new city where you don’t know anybody, feeling like you aren’t properly connecting with the people around you, if you just got out of a relationship or have lost/are away from family. Loneliness is a serious thing and it can definitely take a negative toll on your mental health. I personally have gone through periods of time where I have felt super alone even though I have had lots of great people in my life, so here are my tips on how to how to combat the feeling of loneliness:

1. Learn how to enjoy spending time with yourself

There are always going to be times in life when you have to spend time completely alone. It is important to learn not only how to be alone with yourself, but also how to enjoy that time. Learning a new skill or finding a new hobby are two examples of things that you can do all by yourself to fill your time alone. Two things that I like to do when I am alone are meditating and journaling because not only are they healthy habits, they allow me to look inwards and try to understand why I am feeling the way I am. Something that I think is important to remember is that doing things such as going to a movie or out for dinner by yourself are not actually stigmatized the way you may think they are, so no one will be judging you for wanting to do fun things alone. While occasional alone time can be good for you, complete isolation for long periods of time is very different, and therefore should be treated differently and more seriously. If you are having serious trouble with spending time alone or being completely isolated, therapy can also be beneficial.

2. Reach out to people

Sometimes when we are already feeling sad or anxious, we tend to isolate ourselves even more than we previously were. While yes, reaching out to people can be a scary idea, sometimes if you feel like you have no friends or family to talk to, it can be very helpful in combatting the feeling of aloneness. If you are kind and friendly with people, you are likely to benefit from this and have people want to talk or spend time with you, even if it may take a few tries to happen. Lots of people go through loneliness and you never know if the person you reach out to is actually experiencing the same thing as you and was just hoping for someone to reach out first. You may find it helpful to keep a list of people you feel like you can talk to when you are feeling lonely so that when you begin to feel that way, you know that you have people you can lean on. If you feel as though you have absolutely no one you can turn to, there are so many meet-ups, events, classes, groups, etc. for people who are looking to meet others.

3. Keep busy!

It is easy to overthink or overanalyze your life and your feelings when you have an abundance of free time and are just sitting around at home. This tip is very helpful, but you want to make sure that you stay busy in moderation and don’t accidentally overdo it by giving yourself zero down time. Getting a job, working out and going to class are just a few examples of the many ways in which you can fill up your days with activities that keep your mind off of the loneliness you may be experiencing. Staying busy by doing things that put you around other people, that you may or may not know, is always a good thing because it allows you to interact with others and possibly even build new friendships. Something my mom always recommends when I am feeling lonely is to give back to my community by volunteering because not only do you get to help those in need (which is likely to make you feel better), you’ll also experience positive interactions with others.

The most important thing is to remember that loneliness is a feeling and not an actual fact. Loneliness is also a temporary feeling in most cases and something that everyone around you has experienced at one time or another. Just because you are experiencing loneliness at this point in time does not mean you are always going to be experiencing these feelings.

If you are dealing with complete social isolation and/or your feelings of loneliness are leading you to feel depressed or suicidal, it is important to seek out help. Listed below are some National Crisis Hotlines (Canada):

Kids Help Phone

1-800-668-6868

Crisis Services Canada

1-833-456-4566 or text 45645

First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Help Line 

1‑855‑242-3310

Centre for Suicide Prevention

1-833-456-4566

Canada Drug Rehab Addiction Services Directory

1-877-746-1963

National Eating Disorder Information Centre

1-866-633-4220