Most people have dealt with a set of emotions that can at times feel paralyzing: the feeling of being overwhelmingly lonely. We all deal with feeling alone to some degree – but how do we cope with these emotions if they are drastically affecting our lives?
Extreme loneliness can be dangerous. It can wear on a person’s mental and physical health simultaneously. But how do we combat these feelings?
Start by identifying your level of loneliness and the source of these feelings. This quick quiz by Psych Central is a great jumping-off point.
Additionally, another Psych Central Resource points out the following key factors when you feel alone:
“Level of vulnerability to social disconnection:
Each individual has a general genetically set need for social inclusion and your level of need will be different from someone else’s. If your need for connections is high, it may be difficult to meet.
The ability to self-regulate the emotions associated with feeling isolated:
This means not just outwardly but deep inside. Each person will feel distress when their need for companionship is not fulfilled. If loneliness continues over time it can become a source of chronic upset.
Mental representations and expectations of as well as reasoning about others:
Feeling lonely does not mean you have deficient social skills, but apparently feeling lonely makes people less likely or able to use the skills they have. People who feel lonely are likely to perceive themselves as doing all they can to make friends and to feel like they belong and believe that no one is responding.”
So once you start comprehending your loneliness, you can start coping with and overcoming these emotions.
The following 10 points should hopefully help you in dissecting your feelings of being alone. It may even help alleviate negative emotions as well as assist in getting your social life back on track.
Here Are 10 Things You Can Do When You Feel Alone
1. Start a New Hobby
This is a go-to piece of advice for anyone feeling lonely. Try something new – you never know what skills you may possess until you attempt new endeavors!
Maybe you’re actually a fantastic photographer and you just don’t know it yet. Or maybe RC cars are your passion and you just need some guidelines to get you started?
When you feel alone, here are a several additional examples of hobbies you can try:
- Something crafty such as embroidery, scrapbooking, calligraphy, or card-making
- Pick up a musical instrument for the first time and learn a simple song
- Become a documentary buff, join a book club, or start a blog
- Pick up pencil, brush, or paint, and draw; or use an adult coloring book
- Start a garden, indoor or outdoor, or overhaul the landscaping of your home
The willingness to open up to new hobbies can be difficult; but the more new things you try, the better chance it is that you’ll find something that you’re truly passionate about.
2. Take a Pet in Need
Adopting a pet in need of a home is mutually beneficial. While cats and dogs are go-to companions, all types of pets can aid in conquering loneliness. Rodents, birds, and reptiles can all make friendly additions to a lonely life.
Even a betta fish can be a source of joy and surprisingly enough, plant nutrition when housed in a water garden.
There’s an aquaponic fish tank at my home, and I must admit, I’ve become quite attached to the house fish known as Ken. The tank grows a variety of sprouts and vegetables. Wheatgrass that is produced goes perfectly in my morning smoothie, and nothing quite tops my salad like fresh broccoli sprouts!
3. Meditate Daily
Meditating daily creates an avenue where mindfulness is at the forefront of your mind. This is important because it can help you identify what’s missing in your life, and pinpoint the source of your loneliness.
A meditation resource by More Meditation, A Cure for Loneliness: Guided Meditation, is a valuable tool. It will help you beat lonely feelings whether you’re a seasoned or a first time meditator.
4. Hone Your Cooking Skills
With a plethora of free cooking resources online, the days of resorting to a cookbook are over!
Some of my personal favorite sites for this are Eating Well, All Recipes, and Cook Smarts. These websites do a fantastic job of balancing insightful information and helpful cooking courses for all levels.
I’ve also written on the subject in my article, Healthy Yet Affordable Eating in 2016: Tips for Success, that offers a multitude of simple and economical suggestions.
5. Volunteer Your Time
When you volunteer your time, you’re not only helping others, you’re also socializing and conquering loneliness.
A post by Wake Forest University Online highlights the five motivations for volunteering:
- Personal values
- Community concerns
- Self-esteem enhancement
- A need to understand others
- Personal development
6. Organize and Host a Party
Planning a party can seem stressful – but it doesn’t have to be! Simplicity rules; and oftentimes, people are mostly looking for an excuse to get together. Create a theme party, plan a game night, or host an event for a holiday or sports game.
Invite friends or family over for a nice backyard gathering. A blog post by Serenity Health will help you plan a memorable evening when you feel alone.
7. Avoid Overly Using Social Media
Many people don’t realize that over-consuming social media can be a major contributor to feeling lonely.
“When a person cannot control their time spent online, they may be faced with loneliness and depression, as well as inadequate time spent talking to other people in person, not just online.”
Some people gravitate toward social media and other online outlets when suffering from anxiety. This may, in turn, create borderline uncontrollable online use. This can further the effects of social anxiety and loneliness.
This doesn’t mean that you should go and delete your social profiles. Just set some boundaries for yourself and don’t resort to screen time as an outlet for happiness.
8. Start Taking Care of Yourself
When you take care of yourself physically, the efforts transition to better mental health as well. As of lately, self-care has been a priority in the digital world; the internet wants to help you with your self-care efforts!
Here are some simple ways to do this:
- Take a relaxing bath or shower
- Get a haircut/style your hair in a new way
- Eat a healthy meal
- Make sure you are getting enough sleep
- Compliment yourself verbally or written – and mean it
- Hold yourself accountable for your desired level of hygiene
9. Seek Counselling If Necessary
Do not feel ashamed for getting help if your loneliness has become unmanageable. While stigmas fired at those who require counselling exist, they are by no means warranted.
You should never feel shame for seeking help.
What do you think? Will you try these suggestions when you feel alone?