Being alone and feeling lonely are two different things. There are times when people feel happier alone, but most of us crave meaningful connections and don’t like the feeling of loneliness. When you feel this way, know that feeling lonely is natural. There are, however, ways to alleviate the the diificult feelings of loneliness.
Be Kind to Yourself
When you feel lonely, resist the temptation to blame yourself for your feelings and situation. You may lash out at yourself with harmful self-talk, and come to the conclusion that you’re lonely because it’s “all your fault”. Give yourself a break. Whether you’re lonely because you moved to a new place for work or have little opportunity to socialize, don’t immediately lay blame at your own feet. Treat yourself to a good cup of coffee and some cake or have a spa day.
Connect with Real People
By “connecting” we mean actually interacting with people in real life. When you go outside for a food or grocery run, chat to your friendly neighborhood storekeepers but practice social distancing. If you live in a lively city like Charlotte, consider going out to bars and cafes again after the lockdown. Contract the services of a matchmaker when it’s safe to go out again, or at least get them to match you for online dates in the meantime. Don’t forget about any friends you can talk to nearby; if you can’t hang out yet, have a conversation with them online.
Talk to Strangers
Even seemingly insignificant interactions with other people can help elevate your mood and make you feel less lonely. The next time you chat with a store clerk or barista, engage them in a bit of small talk. Chat about what’s on your mind, but be mindful about social boundaries. Reaching out to other fellow human beings and asking how they are can make a big impact on you (and them) by reducing feelings of loneliness.
Share, Don’t Brag
Somewhere down the line, “sharing is caring” took on a different meaning on social media. “Sharing” is mostly about showing off what you ate, did, or bought. Reclaim the word “sharing” and do what it really means, and that’s to share your time if your online friends need or ask for it, share empathy, and give words of support. You’ll feel less lonely and your relationships with your friends online will be better for it.
Connect with Nature
A good way to reduce feelings of loneliness is to go to a place where there are plenty of trees and sunshine. If you can walk in a nearby park, jog or bike through it, you will find yourself feeling better. Use this as an opportunity to appreciate the beauty that surrounds you, and connect with other people also out for walks or walking their dog—you might just make new friends.
Loneliness is a perfectly normal form of sadness to feel. When it hits you, acknowledge what you’re feeling and know that it’s fine to feel it. Don’t blame yourself for having these feelings and practice self-care by reaching out to your family and friends, and if they aren’t close by, try to make new friends and nurture new social connections.