Are You Feeling Lonely? Online Counseling Is Here To Help
Updated February 10, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Lauren Fawley
Most people feel lonely at some point in their life whether or not they have other people to talk to or are surrounded by people. Although people don't always share their feelings of loneliness with others, these feelings are nothing to be embarrassed about. People get lonely after they have moved to a new place, recently ended a relationship, have grown apart from old friends, and many other reasons. Speaking with someone can help to ease loneliness and can help you better understand why you feel lonely. Feeling lonely is not pathological, meaning there is nothing wrong with you for feeling that way. But sometimes, loneliness can be a symptoms of a more serious mental health issue.
Why Am I Feeling Lonely?
Sometimes loneliness is a symptom of other mental health issues in your life such as depression or anxiety. It may not matter how many people you actually have in your life; loneliness may come from how you perceive your connections with other people. It is even possible to be in a committed relationship and still feel lonely at times.
The two main mental health disorders associated with loneliness are depression and social anxiety. For those who feel depressed, they might feel lonely because they keep people at bay. This may be because they don't want to feel like a burden to others or they don't have the energy to join in activities. Other symptoms of depression include difficulties with focus and concentration, feelings of hopelessness and sustained sadness, changes in sleep patterns and appetite, thoughts of suicide, loss of interest in normal activities, and low energy levels.
If you or a loved one are experiencing suicidal thoughts, reach out for help immediately. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255, and is available 24/7.
Social anxiety can cause individuals to feel extreme fear, disproportionate to the event at the thought of interacting with other people or taking part in certain types of social situations. This can make meeting new people extremely difficult and can further worsen feelings of loneliness. Other symptoms of social anxiety include avoiding social situations to the point where areas of your life are suffering significantly and fearing judgment or others' perceptions of you.
If you are experiencing feelings of loneliness along with some of the symptoms above, it is recommended that you speak with a therapist or other mental health professional about your current struggles.
Are you familiar with the phrase "if you don't use it, you lose it"? Interacting with others can be very much like that. The longer you go without connecting with others, for whatever reason, the more difficult it can feel to know how to put yourself out there. You may feel uncomfortable or out of practice making conversation or knowing what to do in social situations.
Lonely feelings can also be due to a big change in life. Maybe you have grown apart emotionally from people or had a change of home situation like empty nest or moved recently, which hasn't allowed for making new friends yet. Living in rural areas with few people has been linked to feelings of loneliness and isolation. Although time and more opportunities to connect with people may be the key to reducing your symptoms of loneliness, it may be best to speak with someone who understands what you are experiencing. It may be time for you to consider getting more involved in your community or picking up a new interest or activity that encourages interaction with others. It is a bonus if those people share a common interest with you as similarities lend the way to greater connection. Are you someone who gets a greater feeling of connection in a big group or do you feel connected more in one-on-one interactions?
It could also be that you are interacting in relationships on more of a surface level and need to develop some relationships in your life that are deeper and more meaningful. It could be that you feel like you have to put a sometimes false self forward to feel accepted. Overtime, this can start to feel like people don't know the real you and can contribute to loneliness. In the age of social media, it can be easier to choose or to be exposed to the types of relationships that are more surface or less "real." You may not have had a lot of opportunity or practice with the kind of relationship that comes with sharing something other than pictures or quick messages with someone. Remember that true connection takes time and effort and requires both people getting "real" about themselves.
Sometimes, a feeling of deep loneliness can be an indication that you do not have a strong relationship with yourself. That may seem like a strange concept, but when we know who we are, we feel better able to connect with others too. When you have a strong sense of self, you are also likely to enjoy your own company more. In the more extreme, you may have a poor self-concept, meaning you do not see yourself as someone with much to offer others. If you think this could be describing you, a counselor can help you. They will teach you to engage differently with your thoughts and feelings, challenge negative self-defeating beliefs, and develop a stronger sense of personal values and goal-driven behavior.
What Can Online Counseling Do?
Some people might be embarrassed about feeling lonely. Humans evolved as social creatures, so feeling like you don't belong to a social network can make you feel like an outcast or an unwanted member of society. Talking with friends or family may feel difficult for fear they might judge you. Because of this, speaking with a professional counselor may be a better option for you. You can be assured that a licensed counselor will keep anything you tell them completely confidential, and their job is to help, not judge. A counselor will accept your feelings as they are and help you not fight with those feelings as you work to improve your situation that is contributing to loneliness. Speaking with a counselor can help you to practice interacting with others, talking about yourself, and feeling more comfortable with letting people get to know you.
A counselor can help you to identify more of the roots of your feelings and help you to make changes needed to lessen the feelings that are concerning to you.
How can I survive alone?
If you're alone, don't think of it as something you must survive. Instead, learn to live alone without being lonely. Here are some ways to do so.
- Enjoy activities alone. Play a video game, build a model ship, or go outdoors and enjoy your time there.
- Make sure you're confident in yourself. Work out, get some rest, and practice other healthy habits. Once you feel more comfortable with yourself, you can feel comfortable with your loneliness.
- Talk to people online or at local events. Even in a small area, you may find someone to talk to. Meetup apps and friend finders can certainly help with this. If you can't find anyone, the Internet is a good place. Besides meeting friends online, you can talk to a therapist. A good support chat can cheer you up when you're feeling down.
- When you are feeling lonely, try practicing mindfulness to get your mind off it. Focus on the present and avoid any thoughts that are self-defeating or distracting. Take a few nice, deep breaths and try clearing your mind.
- If all else fails, talk to someone about it. Whether it's a friend, family member, or someone else who supports you, talking to a person can make you feel much better about yourself and allow you to move on from what you're feeling.
You can be alone without being lonely. In fact, some people embrace this life.
Is it okay to want to be alone?
Some people want to be alone, and that's okay. If you're fine with being alone, you may think there's something wrong with that, but there isn’t. Many people prefer to be alone.
For one thing, some people are introverted and like to dive deep in their thoughts instead of being extroverted.
Other people like their privacy and don't want to share their space with someone else.
If you own your own place and don't need help with the bills, you may like having that space all to yourself.
Overall, there are many reasons to like being alone, and it's not something you should be ashamed of or embarrassed about.
How can I be alone but not lonely?
There are many people who live alone, but they wouldn't call themselves lonely. If anything, they may feel like they're full of life. Here are some ways that you can be alone, but not lonely.
- Be confident in yourself.
- Attend events, go on casual dates, and explore the great outdoors. Being alone doesn't mean you can't still talk to people and go to events.
- Look at alone time as nice, private time and not something to be upset about.
- Speak to a therapist. There may be reasons why you feel lonely, and there may be ways you can be alone without feeling too lonely.
Is there a website for lonely people?
Any website that involves finding friends or dating is usually filled with lonely people or at least people who are looking to expand their social circle. There isn't any definitive lonely person website; it all depends on what you're looking for. Sites like Meetup help you find friends. Any dating site is good for finding love. Online therapy websites help you talk to someone when you're feeling unsure of yourself.
What do you call a person who likes to be alone?
Some people prefer to feel alone, and they're known by many names. They may call themselves hermits, recluses, or loners. These people are often associated with introverts, but not all introverts prefer being alone.
How do you meet someone when you have no friends?
Finding new friends when you have none seems like an impossible task. Maybe you've moved to a new town, and you're having trouble making any friends. If you're someone who has made friends through other friends, starting off from scratch can feel like a task that you've forgotten about. However, there are some ways that you can meet others when you don't have any friends. These include the following:
- Go to places where friends who share a common hobby gather. If you like video games, go to a game shop. If you're a bookworm, go to a library.
- Try looking for local events where you may meet someone who is a potential friend.
- Strike up a conversation with someone who seems interesting. Find common ground and discuss things you like. Eventually, tell your name and see if that friend wants to add you on social media.
- Try websites or apps for local meetups. Apps such as Meetup allow you to meet someone based on your own interests.
- If you're still having trouble making friends due to social awkwardness or anxiety, this is something that you may want to speak to a counselor or therapist about.
What are the benefits of living alone?
Living by yourself isn't a bad thing; in fact, it can be good. Here are some benefits to living alone:
- First, the privacy. You don't have to worry about forgetting to close the bathroom door, and you can watch anything you want without someone being nosy. Even couples who are alike in almost every way do want some privacy every now and then.
- You can decorate your home how you want to. You can hang up your own posters, arrange the furniture in your own way, and make your bed whenever you want. While having cleaning habits is important, your roommate isn't going to get mad if you forget to take out the trash and that's because there is no roommate.
- Living alone can make you appreciate people more. When you invite a friend over or go on a date, every conversation can feel special.
- Being alone may make you more creative. We all imagine the writer alone in their office, getting a spark of inspiration. That can happen.
If you think you might be experiencing more loneliness than aloneness, then talking to an in-person or online therapist can help. They can help you deal with some of the anxiety you might be feeling surrounding meeting people and feeling lonely. A therapist can offer you tools to implement in your daily life while providing support and understanding.
Online therapy has been shown to be effective for managing social anxiety, which can lead to feelings of loneliness. Participants in a study were treated through the use of videoconferencing and found improvements in their quality of life. Improvements were also found in those experiencing depression. The study pointed to the effectiveness of successfully delivering cognitive-behavior therapy through videoconferencing and that it is equal to or better than face-to-face therapy.
Online help at BetterHelp is available via text messaging, phone calls, and video or online chat. Online counseling also allows you to start speaking with someone right away, rather than waiting to receive help from an in-person counselor. No matter when or where you are feeling lonely, setting up an appointment with one of our online counselors can let you speak with someone at your own convenience. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp counselors from people experiencing similar issues.
“I look forward to my counseling sessions. I have felt kind of lonely and cut off from a lot of people for this past year for obvious reasons and speaking to someone who is so knowledgeable and empathetic really helps me to remember that everything is working out. I very much appreciate this service and how easily accessible it is.”
“Sandra is very good at helping me work through my anxiety and getting to the root of the problem that I didn’t even see was there. Sandra has given me good coping strategies and she is also very gentle and kind.”
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