Loneliness and How To Deal
I read an article recently that stated: "46 percent of Americans report feeling lonely sometimes or always, and 47 percent report feeling left out sometimes or always. A little less, 43 percent, report feeling isolated from others, and the same number report feeling they lack companionship and their relationships lack meaning."
This doesn't seem too far from reality as far as I can tell with myself or others that I have talked to. For most of my life, I have felt that I didn't belong. Even within a crowded room with lots of people that I love, there was still a lingering feeling of being lonely. For many years I used alcohol to cover up these feelings and have since developed some practices that have helped me to overcome the emotions that aren't always based on reality.
1. Start small
Small and simple social interactions have made a big difference. Cashiers, for example, are paid to be kind to you, they aren't always that way, but small talk and sharing a laugh can help you feel less alone and isolated.
2. Find like-minded people
What kind of things are you into? Look for activities or meetups that will connect with those like-minded people.
3. Get active
Exercise is excellent for keeping you less stressed, but you also get to see and sometimes meet different people who share the same interest as yourself. Whether you are going to a gym or a yoga studio sometimes just being around people doing the same things as myself has made me feel less lonely.
4. Schedule in something social
I often get wrapped up in my routines and turn down opportunities to socialize, without even realizing it. If you find yourself in a similar situation, it would be great to challenge yourself to get out and socialize at least once a week. Add it to your calendar or make set yourself a reminder to have at least one night of the week dedicated to social activity.
5. Take yourself out on a date
If you don't feel comfortable asking someone to go with you, go with yourself. Don't be shy to spend some time with yourself. Grab a good book, see a movie, or take yourself out to dinner. You are going to feel a little awkward at first, and you might even worry that people are judging you. I sure thought that at first but realized quickly that people are usually so wrapped up into what they're doing to judge you for eating by yourself. If you start to do these things often enough, you may even begin to meet other people just on the repetitiveness.
6. Hang out with some non-humans
Animals are excellent at making us feel connected and cared for. Dogs, in particular, can reduce stress, anxiety, and ease loneliness. If you're not ready for the responsibility of owning a pet, you could always ask neighbors and friends for some of their pet time.
7. Put on your volunteer hat
Volunteering is a great way to get you out into the world and connect to your community at large. You get to meet like-minded people, and you get to help other people in need. Spreading love into the world can help you feel less lonely.
8. Get some help
If you've tried one or all of these things and you are still feeling disconnected, don't be afraid to speak to a professional. In today's world, we have a myriad of ways that we can talk to a counselor or a therapist. Take advantage of the resources that you have available to find someone to help you with your feelings and thoughts.
Don't forget, every one of us has times where we feel some form of loneliness, and you are not alone in this world. Though it doesn't always feel this way, we can turn those thoughts and feelings around; it just may take a little work to get there.