Times of loneliness can be quite uncomfortable. Feeling lonely makes people uneasy and sad. Many people struggle greatly during these difficult times. The problem, however, is that times of solitude and loneliness cannot be avoided. In fact, every single human being is confronted with stages in their life when they are feeling more or less alone. While these phases cannot be shortened miraculously, you can still learn to find ways of making the best of it. In the following, you can find 30 proven and effective things you can do when feeling lonely.
There’s a great difference between being alone and feeling lonely. You can be physically alone without actually feeling alone. Whenever you’re in such a situation, the state of being alone can be quite enjoyable and refreshing. At the same time, feeling lonely and craving for the company of other people is not such a pleasant experience.
Everything in the following focuses on helping you to overcome the nagging feelings of loneliness. In fact, with the right techniques and patience, you can actually learn to be perfectly happy alone.
“Cherish your solitude. Take trains by yourself to places you have never been. Sleep out alone under the stars. Learn how to drive a stick shift. Go so far away that you stop being afraid of not coming back.”
Whether or not you are feeling alone greatly depends on your attitude. The way you think about times of loneliness can greatly shape how you feel when being alone. Equipped with some effective strategies and the right mental attitude, you can gradually learn what you can do to make the best of these – not always avoidable – phases in life.
When you no longer consider times of loneliness as something that inflicts great psychological pain upon you, something new begins to emerge. What was once hurtful loneliness will slowly begin to transform into refreshing and joyful solitude. In fact, not being surrounded by other people can introduce many wonderful opportunities.
Times of solitude can help you to better get to know yourself and to learn to be perfectly content and happy with yourself. Solitude may also show you in an effective manner that your happiness does not have to be dependent on the presence of other people.
In this sense, solitude can be quite helpful to your growth as a person. It will take away the distracting noise that would usually prevent you from discovering yourself and learning to draw happiness from the within.
At the same time, it will not only help you to be less dependent on other people’s presence but also on their validation and approval. By knowing who you truly are, you’ll be able to find strength and encouragement from within.
30 Powerful Things to Do When Feeling Lonely
One essential step to overcoming feelings of loneliness is to be content with times of solitude. By finding happiness and joy in solitude, you can take an important step in the right direction. Even more so, it will help you to consider being alone no longer as something painful, but a unique opportunity to spend some valuable time with yourself.
Here are the things you can do when you’re feeling lonely:
1. Determine what’s missing
Feeling lonely may not always be a direct result of having no one around you. There are many people who are surrounded by kind and supportive people but are still experiencing inexplicable feelings of loneliness. Therefore, the first step to finding a solution to the problem is to ask yourself what it is that is missing from your life. You may find that this question is pretty easy to answer. You may miss having a partner, or you may wish that more people are around you. It’s as simple as that, right? Well, not entirely.
The intention behind the question is to go a little bit deeper than just that. You may clearly know what is missing from your life, but what are the reasons for this?
Try to discover the underlying reasons for your loneliness. Don’t just focus on what it is that is missing from your life, seek to find the causes for this absence. Does your chosen career path make it difficult for you to be around other people? Are you living in an area where you are far away from most of your friends? Or are you simply a shy person struggling a little bit to form new relationships?
Whatever it is, once you’ve found the underlying reasons, you’re in a far better position to address every single one of them. By removing the causes for your loneliness, you can take an important step towards overcoming feelings of being alone.
2. Transform loneliness into solitude
Paul Tillich once said that while the word “loneliness” expresses the great pain of being alone, the word “solitude” celebrates the glory of being alone. But what’s the difference between loneliness and solitude? Well, one great difference lies therein that solitude is not something that is forced upon you. It is something that you’re comfortable with because you actually enjoy it. At the same time, loneliness is involuntarily forced upon us. In this sense, loneliness is regarded as a punishment that makes us suffer because we cannot seem to get rid of it.
By transforming loneliness into solitude, you can gradually learn to be happy despite being alone. Even more so, it will help you to gain many valuable insights that cannot be obtained when in the presence of others. Turning loneliness into solitude can be accomplished by actively starting to take control over your life and the situation. Once you switch your perception of loneliness away from seeing it as something that is forced upon you to seeing it as something beneficial and important, you begin to stop feeling helpless about being alone.
Changing the way you think about being alone can greatly aid you in making the best of solitude. You’ll see that after some time has passed, you actually begin to enjoy these phases of solitude. They will present you with great opportunities for growth and enable you to spend some valuable time with yourself.
3. Join a club you’re interested in
A fantastic way to get to know many exciting people is to join a club. Especially when the club is centered on your interests, you’ll definitely have a great time getting in touch with those who share similar passions.
The wonderful aspect of joining a club is that its members are almost always very open to newcomers and openly invite them to join. After some meetings, you will get to know the club members and long-lasting friendships may emerge from your membership. At the same time, joining a club gives you the opportunity to interact with like-minded individuals on a weekly basis, which can greatly aid in alleviating feelings of loneliness.
However, you don’t necessarily have to join a club that closely aligns with your interests. You can also think about joining clubs that focus on areas you are interested in.
4. Get a pet
Getting a pet may be a potential option if you’ve already tried numerous things to stop feeling lonely to no avail. In fact, having a cat or a dog can work wonders when it comes to alleviating feelings of loneliness. They can become great companions that will quickly show you how important your presence is. Animals can give you the important feeling of being needed, which can dramatically reduce the feeling of being lonely. At the same time, training your pet and taking care of it may become quite important aspects of your life.
Scientific research even highlighted that by having a dog or cat you can effectively diminish unwanted feelings of loneliness. However, think careful about getting a pet. Always keep in mind that you will have to take care of them for the rest of their lives. Also, consider getting your pet from an animal shelter.
5. Take a walk in nature
The beauty about taking a walk is that you will quickly forget that you’re feeling lonely. In fact, it can be quite joyful to explore nature on your own with no one interrupting your endeavors. At the same time, walking in nature is soothing and brings calmness to your mind.
The goal of going out and exploring nature is to become so immersed in it that you greatly enjoy the time you have for yourself. It will help you to reflect on your life and to discover many new aspects about yourself.
6. Disconnect from the Internet more often
The various forms of social media play an influential role in feeling lonely. You may have numerous Facebook friends or followers on Twitter and Google plus but none of them will actually help you to overcome feelings of loneliness. In fact, by investing great amounts of time in online relationships, your real life may suffer. Scientific research dating back to the year 1998 already found back then that internet usage could increase feelings of loneliness.
Social media creates the illusion of being connected with numerous people, while still being apart from others in real life. It can greatly increase your social isolation, which in turn makes you feel even more alone. Even worse, as a result of the absence of real intimacy with your family, friends, and other loved ones, loneliness begins to emerge. Technology can make us feel connected but it cannot provide the genuine experiences of bonding in real life.
7. Take care of people
Countless scientific studies have already pointed out that doing something good can greatly increase your overall well-being. In this sense, helping others allows you to help yourself. Taking care of others can aid you in feeling happier and to be more appreciative of your life.
By putting your time to some good use in order to nurture others, you can effectively combat feeling lonely. Caring for others will give you an important sense of accomplishment while at the same time being there for someone who may greatly enjoy your presence.
It doesn’t matter so much what you do, as long as you do something that is of benefit for others. You can visit the elderly just as much as you can become the mentor of a teen or the coach of a sports team. There are so many fantastic ways to use your skills and knowledge so that other people’s lives become a little bit easier. You only have to find these opportunities.
8. Cultivate gratitude
Developing gratitude is a powerful way to shift your attention away from feeling lonely and more towards the things in your life you are thankful for. It will make you realize that even though you are lonely at the moment, there are many other valuable aspects of your life that make it worth living.
In many instances, intense feelings of loneliness arise when focusing too heavily on the fact that you’re not around other people. You may become so occupied with feeling regret about being lonely that you totally forgot about all the other positive aspects of your life.
It’s a natural human tendency to always focus intensely on all the things we don’t have. This – often times excessive – focusing on one problematic area of your life can greatly reduce your overall well-being.
Cultivating gratitude can be quite helpful in these situations. It will help you to remind yourself of all the beautiful aspects that are already present in your life. Being grateful will also help you to get a more balanced picture of your life in general. This can be quite important as it shows you that not all hope is lost just because you are not around other people at the moment. In fact, gratitude will aid you in relieving the pressure that loneliness puts upon your shoulders, which could greatly help you in establishing new and long-lasting relationships in your life.
9. Find activities to distract yourself with
Not all forms of loneliness can be overcome immediately. Sometimes, it simply takes time until this stage of your life comes to an end. If confronted with such a situation, distracting yourself and keeping yourself busy can prove to be an excellent option to alleviate feeling lonely.
Pursue activities that help you to forget everything around you. Make sure that there are many activities in your schedule that keep you distracted and active during the entire day. By filling your schedule with beneficial activities, you do not only contribute to your progress in life, but you will also effectively avoid situations in which you repeatedly mull over the fact that you are feeling alone.
10. Avoid inactivity
You will surely have realized that the most daunting feelings of loneliness always start to come up in situations where you are not particularly active. Whenever you’re alone with yourself with nothing much to do, these kinds of thoughts start to emerge. For this reason, try to avoid long times of inactivity and try to always keep yourself distracted during phases of loneliness (see also #9). The goal is to stop overanalyzing things. This will often make things even worse.
11. Go to meet-ups
Another fantastic way of socializing is to attend meet-ups in your local area. A great way to find these meet-ups is the website meetup.com. There are also large meet-ups organized by members of the website reddit.com. Meetup.com shows you what meet-ups are going to be held in the near future somewhere close to you. You’ll surely find many interesting meet-up groups revolving around topics that are interesting for you.
Meet-ups do not only help you to make new friends but they also aid you in developing your social skills. The great thing about these local meetings is that joining a meet-up is free. You could specifically choose to go to meet-ups that are created to meet new people. At the same time, you could also consider choosing groups centered on your hobbies or professional interests.
12. Become a volunteer
There are countless organizations that could greatly benefit from your help. By sharing your experience, knowledge, and time with these nonprofit organizations, you can actively help to build a better world.
13. Start reading again
The beauty about reading is that you will quickly become so immersed in a book that you forget everything around you. As the wonderful story of a book starts to unfold in your mind, you’ll quickly forget that you’re feeling alone.
“I had already found that it was not good to be alone, and so made companionship with what there was around me, sometimes with the universe and sometimes with my own insignificant self; but my books were always my friends, let fail all else.”
Books will cheer you up during times of loneliness and will help you to feel much better quickly.
14. Engage in physical activity
Exercising regularly is a fantastic way to boost happiness and to increase your psychological well-being, as scientific studies suggest. Doing some physical activity will help you to leave negative thoughts of loneliness behind. At the same time, by joining a sports club or a gym, you can surround yourself with many exciting people that may even become important friends.
15. Flicker through old photos
Looking at old pictures is a fantastic way to cheer yourself up. The old photos will take you back to the joyful days of your past. Skipping through your photo album will also help you remember all the beautiful memories of days long passed.
16. Explore inspiring TED talks and other videos
TED talks are magnificently inspiring. They will introduce you to new ideas and new ways of thinking. At the same time, these informative talks help you to quickly forget that you’re feeling alone. In fact, these talks can help you to come up with so many inspiring ideas for new projects keeping you distracted for days or even months.
17. Grab a camera and go sightseeing
You don’t necessarily have to be a tourist to go on a sightseeing hunt with your camera. Simply go out and explore the world around you. You could visit the sights of a city near you but you could also take a trip into nature. Whatever you do, be curious about the beautiful world around you and capture all these great moments of your endeavors on polaroid or digitally.
18. Practice meditation
You might be wondering why a mindfulness exercise that you are practicing alone can help you to overcome feelings of loneliness. But even though it sounds counterproductive, meditation can actually help you to stop feeling lonely. In fact, scientific research conducted in 2012 found that practicing meditation can reduce loneliness.
Meditation is not just a wonderful way to ease feeling lonely but it also enables you to better understand your emotional landscape. It will help you to reflect on the feelings of loneliness you experience and may show you what the underlying causes for these feelings are.
Learning how to meditate is not even difficult. You can start practicing meditation as early as today. If you are willing to practice regularly – i.e. daily – you can make quick progress. Simply be patient and practice diligently. If you do that for a longer period of time, the various benefits of meditation will slowly begin to emerge in your day-to-day life.
19. Consider talking to someone about your feelings
It would be a grave mistake to lock yourself away because you are struggling with feelings of loneliness. Instead, consider if it could be helpful for you to talk to a mental health professional, a good friend or even a volunteer from the Samaritans (free from any phone on 116 123, available 24/7). Other people – especially professionals – can show you ways to deal with the difficult times of loneliness.
Never forget that you don’t have to suffer alone. There will always be specifically trained people who can effectively help you with the problems you’re confronted with.
20. Discover the joy of doing things on your own
Human beings are by nature social animals. We greatly enjoy the company of other people and seek to surround ourselves with like-minded, loving individuals. At the same time, hanging around with other people can be sometimes pretty limiting. You always have to consider other people’s interests, likes, and dislikes before finally meeting a decision about what to do. This is certainly not always easy.
Times of solitude give you the wonderful opportunity to discover life on your own. You are free to do whatever you want and whatever you desire most. You can eat what you want, watch the movie that interests you the most, or go where none of your friends would like to go. In short, solitude allows you to have some important time for yourself and to invest that time for activities that you enjoy the most.
At the same time, it is important to realize that you don’t need anyone to enjoy yourself. Don’t let the fact that no one is present with you at the moment stop you from doing exciting things. In the beginning, it may feel a little odd to do all these things on your own but you will quickly discover the joy in it.
21. Take the initiative
Overcoming feelings of loneliness often requires you to take the initiative when it comes to establishing and maintaining social relationships. You will have to actively form new relationships and take the initiative when it comes to inviting others to do things with you. Always remember that other people – more often than not – shy away from taking the initiative. They rather prefer to feel lonely at times instead of risking being rejected. So do yourself and others a favor and have the courage to take the initiative. Don’t just hope that other people will do it for you – do it yourself.
22. Spend more time with your family
Maintaining a good relationship with the members of your family is not always easy. However, by actively seeking to spend more time with your family, you can take an important step towards overcoming feelings lonely. If necessary, have the courage to make the first step when the contact to some of your relatives has diminished over the years.
23. Join online communities
While it’s always preferable to meet people in real life, online communities provide a good way of getting in touch with other people who are – perhaps – in a similar situation. These online interactions should never be treated as substitutes for social interactions in real life. However, online communities can help you to overcome really intensive and painful feelings of loneliness for a given period of time.
24. Use the time for your personal growth
There are two options to deal with times of loneliness. You can either lament about it, feeling miserable about yourself. But you can also use the time you have to accelerate your growth as a person. The choice is always yours.
There are so many new skills you can develop and amazingly interesting new subjects you can delve into. Now is the right time to use the time you have for yourself in order to make important improvements in your life.
25. Learn to think more positively about solitude
The way you think shapes how you interpret what happens to you in life. You may not be able to change your situation but you can still influence how you react to it. In this sense, what happens to you in life is far less important than the way you think about it and the way you react to it.
By thinking more positively about times of solitude, you learn to better identify the chances and opportunities that come with it.
26. Understand that loneliness is not a fact, it’s a feeling
At its core, loneliness is a feeling, not a definite fact. More often than not, you feel lonely not because you are physically isolated from other human beings but because a memory of feeling lonely is triggered.
The willingness to change your mindset about loneliness can go a long way to ease feeling lonely. In order to accomplish this change of attitude, it is important to remind yourself that whenever you’re feeling lonely that it is first and foremost a feeling and not necessarily a plain fact. For this reason, it is important to accept the feeling without giving too much thought to it. Instead of asking yourself painful and almost self-destructive questions about the reasons for your loneliness, focus on moving on with your life.
27. Be compassionate with yourself
Just because you are experiencing feelings of loneliness does not mean there’s something wrong with you or that you are a loser. These and similar self-limiting thoughts will most likely begin to emerge when you’re feeling lonely. In these situations, it is important to be patient and compassionate with yourself. Try to accept the fact that you are experiencing these emotions. Remind yourself that other people feel similar, too.
28. Eliminate negative self-talk
Another important idea to fight feelings of loneliness is to pay close attention to your inner dialogue. We all have an inner critic that continuously seeks to sabotage everything we do. At the same time, we all engage in limiting and negative self-talk without even noticing it.
Pay attention to your thought processes and your inner dialogue. If necessary, replace self-limiting and negative self-talk with more encouraging messages.
29. Let go of toxic relationships
Many people do not feel lonely because they are physically alone but because they miss certain things in their existing relationships. This may perhaps be a sign that not all of your relationships are as nurturing as they should be. In case you are confronted with toxic people that do nothing but drain your energy and care little about your well-being, consider letting the relationship come to an end.
30. Get in touch with others who are lonely
There are many other people who feel just like you. By finding and meeting these people, you can not only reduce your own feelings of loneliness but also those of the other person. At the same time, people who are in a similar situation as you will be far more open and receptive to forming a new friendship.
I hope you enjoyed this article about the powerful things to do when feeling lonely. What are your strategies to deal with loneliness?