Are you someone who is dealing with loneliness? You’re not alone. According to a study done by the University of California, 3 out of 4 Americans are lonely. It’s not uncommon for people to feel like they’re alone or experience feelings of loneliness from time to time.
Where it becomes a problem is when it begins to seep into other aspects of your life. When your loneliness affects your personal life, work life, or physical health, it may be time to seek solutions or help.
What is loneliness?
First, to understand the problem, we need to understand loneliness. Loneliness is an emotional pain caused by a lack of gratifying relationships, or at least the perception of a lack of relationships. This means you don’t need to necessarily be alone to feel lonely. Feelings of loneliness can arise even when you’re surrounded by people. However, physically being alone or separated from loved ones can create these feelings or even exacerbate them.
How to deal with loneliness
Loneliness is a complicated issue to deal with. Depending on when and why you’re experiencing loneliness, different solutions may or may not work better for you than others. The important thing is that you start with what feels right for you. If a solution appeals to you more than others, start there. It will be the simplest way to ease yourself into overcoming loneliness.
1. Get a pet
I ‘m sure this is one that you have heard or thought of before but it really can help you deal with loneliness, especially if you’re physically alone.
Animals are great for people who are going through a hard time because they offer something that you may be craving: unconditional love and affection.
When you come home every day and are greeted by this little ball of fluff who loves you and wants nothing more than you to spend all of your time playing with them, loving them, cuddling with them, it’s going to make you feel like you have a best friend with you all the time.
Someone that you can go to when you feel like the rest of the world is against you. Getting a pet is a great way to deal with the things that you are going through that make you feel like you are alone.
When you have a pet running around, keeping you busy, and requiring your attention, you’ll never feel alone again. They give you a sense of peace knowing that you have someone who cares about whether you are there or not, even if it is just a dog or a cat, it could mean the entire world to you.
2. Go to a place with people
If you are feeling down or lonely, go take a bike ride to the park and go sit in the coffee shop down the street that you know is going to be filled with people on Sunday morning.
Go and sit, you don’t have to make an attempt to talk to anyone or anything like that. If you have social anxiety, you don’t need to interact with anyone.
Just go down to the area that you know is going to be crowded, a place that you feel comfortable in. Sometimes, just reconnecting with your fellow human beings, even strangers, is a great way to feel apart of this massive spinning planet.
Plus, you never know who is going to come up to you and start up a conversation. Who knows, you could end up walking in and meeting the person who changes your life forever! Putting yourself out there is part of not feeling so lonely.
Sometimes just the simple act of being around other people, hearing them talk, seeing them walk around, interacting without interacting can be enough to help you feel like you are not as alone as you think you are. Sometimes sitting in the house all day can make you feel like you are the only person in the world. You aren’t and it’s important to remind yourself of that.
So go out there and do small gestures to reconnect with people. Hold the door open for the next person walking behind you. Smile at the next stranger. Give up your seat on the bus or train. Even just small acknowledgements and gestures can completely change how you’re feeling.
3. Self love
This is a very important part of dealing with loneliness. Sometimes, we think that we feel alone because there’s no one else around. But when you’re alone, you’re not actually alone. You’re with yourself.
Beginning to love yourself, and love spending time with just yourself, is a big part of not feeling so lonely. It’s not about becoming a hermit or accepting physical loneliness. It’s understanding that there’s going to be times, maybe even long stretches of time, when we will be alone and feel lonely. And that’s okay.
If we love ourselves, we’ll love taking this as an opportunity to spend time with ourselves and our thoughts.
When you’re physically alone, it’s also important to remember that no person can make us feel happy unless we’re convinced that we were already happy without them. No amount of money can make us happy, until we are convinced that we were already happy without it. No place or thing in this universe can give us the feeling of being whole unless we already were without it.
Only you can make you happy
The only thing in this world that can make you feel better is you, by looking inside of yourself for the best parts of you. This may be the best way to deal with loneliness. Self love is not looking in the mirror and thinking that you are the most beautiful or handsome person in the world.
It’s looking in the mirror and saying to yourself, “it doesn’t matter if I’m the most beautiful person in the world, I am me and I am perfectly happy with who I am and nobody or nothing is going to change my mind about who I am or what I believe in.”
You just have to believe in yourself in order to get there. Self love is a very big part of why you might be feeling the way you are. If you think this could be a possibility, try doing things that you want to do. Go out and do new things, yes, by yourself. No, it’s not scary.
Start with something small. Let’s say that the new restaurant down the street just opened up and you really wanted to try it, but it’s a certain type of food that nobody else you know likes, but you do. It’s perfectly okay to go there by yourself, because you want to try it. This is one of the first steps in self love and finding the path to being content with who you are and being comfortable in your own skin.
You can also try and practice loving-kindness meditation. It’s a form of meditation that allows you to practice empathy but also self love.
4. Talk to a therapist
If you feel like none of these things are going to help you or that you’ve tried everything, you should consider finding a therapist.
It will give you someone to talk to and get things out on the table as to why you might be having such a low point in your life. A professional is often the best person to help you deal with loneliness. They can take your experience, break it down for you, give you a clearer understanding of why and what is happening, and offer a solution.
Also, it’s okay to go seek out professional help, it doesn’t mean that something is wrong with you or that you’ve failed. Some problems are larger than what we know how to handle on our own and that’s okay, too.
We are all human and all we can do is the best that we can do every day and sometimes, when we feel like giving our all is not enough, we should seek out guidance from someone else. Lost is the person who doesn’t ask for directions.
Start feeling loved and connected again
Even when you’re surrounded by a lot of people that seem to care about you, it’s normal to still feel lonely every once in a while. This is often a symptom of something deeper than you may understand. If the simpler solutions offered above don’t help, again, find someone you can talk to about your feelings.
How have you dealt with or managed feelings of loneliness in the past? Any stories you’d like to share about your loneliness? Share them below in the comments.