Loneliness - it’s a natural human emotion that can appear for a whole host of reasons. The feeling of loneliness can crop up if your circle of friends and family all seem to be in different life stages than you, or if you’ve recently moved to a new place and have yet to make local friends.
Loneliness can also rear its head for less obvious reasons- perhaps you’ve got a ton of friends and family yet for reasons unbeknownst to you, still feel less than connected to them. Not to mention, thanks to the rise and prevalence of social media in today’s day to day routine, many of us are increasingly “connected” but these technology-related connections end up leaving us feeling lonelier than ever.
Regardless of the reason, loneliness is an emotion that we’ve all felt at one time or another. But, how do you fight loneliness?
How Can Loneliness Affect You?
Just because it is common and happens to everyone, doesn’t mean we should just ignore it. In fact, chronic loneliness can have serious negative effects on our health and well-being. We’ve all found ourselves in a rather precarious predicament with the uncertainty of the pandemic, leaving many of us stranded at home - alone.
Being lonely can not only lead to further isolation but also risk of depression, unhealthy coping habits like drug use and alcohol abuse, sleep problems, physical ailments like a decreased immune system and obesity, and poor mental health. With that in mind, here are some healthy strategies for how to cope with loneliness.
How do I overcome loneliness?
Loneliness is a part of life but that doesn’t mean we should just sit back and wallow in it. Remember these coping strategies the next time you need to get out of your negative thought cycles with a bit of human interaction or need a creative way to combat loneliness.
And keep in mind that no matter how it may feel right now, loneliness is temporary and it will pass.
Move Your Body
Is there anything that a little physical activity can’t fix ? Getting up and getting moving is another method of distraction, but one with a slew of other mental, emotional and physical benefits.
Get outside, soak up a little vitamin D and engage your muscles in a fun, healthy way.
Foster Real Life Connections
Obviously, one of the best ways to combat loneliness is to actively seek out connections in real life. This can be easier said than done, however, as one of the most common side effects of feeling lonely is wanting to retreat further into our own world of isolation - we binge Netflix, tackle our to-do list, or mindlessly scroll through Facebook.
But staving off feelings of loneliness usually requires actual human interaction. So push through your desire to wallow in isolation and look for some meaningful social interactions - try to give a friend or family member a call.
Meditation can help
We have already discussed the benefits of the meditation practice here , but it is definitely something you can try. Can meditation cure loneliness? Well, a study shows that meditation can help with coping with loneliness by connecting with your mind.
Thanks to the techniques of mindfulness, awareness and breathing techniques, you can forgive and accept your feeling of loneliness.
Nip Negative Thoughts in the Bud
Feelings of loneliness have a way of bringing out the worst when it comes to our self-talk. We end up feeling like we deserve to feel this way or that we’re not good enough to feel connected and included. A great way to fight loneliness is to acknowledge this negative self-talk and get rid of it.
Allow yourself to accept the feelings of loneliness as a natural human emotion and that there’s nothing wrong with feeling this way from time to time - but do not allow yourself to get sucked into the storyline that you deserve to feel unhappy. Try making time for meditation to clear your head or listen to a guided meditation to help focus on the positives.
Use Your Creativity
Unfortunately at this time, real-life social interaction is more difficult than usual thanks to social distancing, but you can cope with loneliness in other ways, too.
Distraction is a healthy way to get out of your negative head space and simply do something else. Try using your creative skills to create something when you’re feeling lonely. If you enjoy writing you could start a journal, write some short stories, start a blog or write poetry.
If art is more up your alley you might try an adult coloring book, start a new sketchbook, or paint a fresh canvas. You could also get creative with a new home project, get organized, or even cook or bake something. The idea is to find something you enjoy, that takes your mind off the isolation and allows you to channel those feelings into something worthwhile.
Help Lift Someone Else Up
Cheering up someone else can actually help you feel less lonely yourself, believe it or not. Take some time out of your day to let a friend or family member know that you are simply thinking about them.
It can be with a phone call or text, a postcard or letter, or even a reassuring comment on their social media page. Offering support and encouragement to someone else not only lifts them up, but makes yourself feel better as well.
Sometimes these coping strategies may not be enough, and that’s OK. If you’re having a hard time digging yourself out of the feelings of loneliness, it’s more than OK to give therapy a shot.
Just having someone around to listen to you can be beneficial to boost your feelings of self-worth and value.