Why Do I Feel So Alone And How Do I Fix It?

Medically reviewed by Paige Henry, LMSW, J.D.
Updated February 29, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Loneliness doesn't always mean being alone. Feelings of loneliness can persist even for busy, productive, and sociable people. They can result from actual or perceived isolation and can be deeply painful. One study of the American public found that 76 percent of people surveyed were lonely.

Loneliness can lead to anti-social behavior, which can often be self-defeating and make these difficult feelings worsen. Fortunately, there are many ways to understand and learn how to cope with loneliness.

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Are you struggling to cope with feelings of loneliness?

Why am I so alone and how did I get here?

There are many reasons why you may think "I feel so alone." Although any two individuals may have similar circumstances, one may still feel a sense of loneliness while the other may feel perfectly content. Perhaps one of these scenarios resonates with you:

  • You feel alone because you've lived your life vicariously through the people you love. You've let them define who you are and what you need to do to live a happy, productive life.
  • You haven't pursued your dreams. Perhaps you've spent more time dreaming about what things will be like when you reach your goals and not enough time working toward them.
  • You’re feeling lonely because you are navigating mental or physical health conditions that make it hard for you to spend time with others.
  • You feel lonely because you may have gone through a recent breakup or a loss, and you're reeling from the normal emotions that follow. Or perhaps you haven't yet recovered from a past loss.

How to start overcoming loneliness

When you feel alone, it's often easier to dwell on negative thoughts or become critical of yourself. You may start thinking about all the things that bother you, such as the job you hate, or the friendships that no longer feel satisfying. As a result, you might find yourself oversleeping or mindlessly dwelling on everything that’s wrong in your life. You can feel lonely even in the presence of others because being lonely is a state of mind.

If you're struggling with these feelings, here are a few pointers to assist you: 

  1. Feeling Lonely Is Natural. In some cases, loneliness is to be expected. For example, it's normal to feel lonely after a breakup because you're experiencing a change. Trying to mask your emotions by getting prematurely involved in a new relationship or returning to your ex may only prolong your lonely feelings.
    Acknowledging these feelings instead of fighting them because you think the feelings are negative can help you move forward more effectively. You may also be better prepared to support your mental health because you’ll feel more in tune with how you truly feel. 
  2. Process And Accept Your Emotions. Since you are human, it is normal for you to feel many emotions. Somehow, many of us think we should be happy or strong all the time. This perspective is unrealistic, and unpleasant emotions do serve their own purposes. Emotions are a natural, healthy part of being human. Accepting and honoring your authentic emotions is an important component of mental wellness.
  3. Learn To Be Alone.  The idea of being alone may sound intimidating. However, being okay with being alone is an important element of happiness. Learning to be okay by yourself allows you to develop a foundation of purpose and contentment that isn't dependent upon being in a relationship with another person. This process can feel foreign and difficult, but can also be empowering as you transition from feeling lonely to being content in your own presence.
  4. Explore New Interests And Engage In Hobbies. Revisit past hobbies and leisure activities that you may have forgotten or consider engaging in new interests. This can help create healthy distractions from negative thoughts and may lead you to your purpose. You may even pursue activities that help you support your physical health as well. 
  5. Keep A Journal. Using a journal allows you to express your thoughts, feelings, and plans in writing. Often, people say that they feel a sense of relief and fulfillment after journaling. Noting your thoughts and feelings in a journal allows you to review the entries later. This may give you deeper insight into yourself and your patterns, so you can learn how to adopt healthier thoughts and habits.
  6. Build A Strong Support System: Having people around you who you can depend on for emotional support is vital to your well-being. Not only do loved ones help encourage you during difficult times, but they’re there to cheer you on through your victories as well. Having close, strong bonds with other people is one of the most effective ways to stave off feelings of loneliness. 

If your social network seems lacking, consider how you can make meaningful connections with others. You may be able to meet new friends by joining a local hiking club or taking a baking class; you’re likely to find you’ve connected with new people you like to spend time with as you both pursue your interests.

Continuing to get out of a rut

No matter how you may be feeling in this moment, loneliness does not have to be something you live with for the rest of your life. There are many ways to move beyond chronic loneliness and find happiness. Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Moving forward may mean stepping out of your comfort zone. It's a little unsettling at first, but you can find the value in it over time. 
  • Lacking a sense of purpose can lead to loneliness. Do you need additional education or training to pursue a truly satisfying career? If you need to complete training while working full-time, there are options for online classes in nearly every field. Visit a local college or technical school to explore the possibilities.
  • Do you need to develop talent? Carve out time in your schedule to practice your craft or seek additional training with an industry mentor.
  • Do you need to find a healthier work-life balance? Set up a session with a life coach to give you some guidance and support.

These are just a few ways to build a richer life so that you can start to move past feelings of loneliness. You may want to consider extra support along the way from individuals who can offer professional guidance and a new perspective. 

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Are you struggling to cope with feelings of loneliness?

Online therapy with BetterHelp

Working with a qualified therapist can be a powerful way for you to navigate the tricky terrain of loneliness. Moving past these difficult feelings often requires some internal work. The qualified mental health professionals at BetterHelp can support you as you reclaim your sense of purpose. 

Technology has made us more connected than ever but has also left many of us feeling lonelier than at any other time period. However, it still comes with its advantages. Online therapy allows you to easily connect with a therapist from your smartphone, tablet, or computer and communicate in a variety of ways, including by phone, video, and chat sessions, as well as messaging. When the pangs of loneliness hit throughout the day, you can message your therapist or set up a session with them to find relief. 

The efficacy of online therapy

More and more people are turning online in search of a convenient way to speak with a trusted mental health professional without having to leave the comforts of home. Recent studies show that electronically delivered cognitive behavioral therapy reduced depression and anxiety symptom severity more effectively than face-to-face therapy. The analysis considered 17 randomized controlled study trials, “evaluating the clinical effectiveness of CBT compared to face-to-face and considered a wide range of outcomes including the severity of symptoms, adverse outcomes, clinically relevant outcomes, global functionality, participant satisfaction, quality of life, and affordability.”

Read below to hear how BetterHelp therapists have helped people like you.

Counselor reviews

“I look forward to my counseling sessions. I have felt kind of lonely and cut off from a lot of people this past year for obvious reasons and speaking to someone so knowledgeable and empathetic helps me to remember that everything is working out. I very much appreciate this service and how convenient it is.”

“This year is being very complex and challenging for pretty much everyone and I am glad to have decided to start this path and I got lucky having Patricia as a counselor. She is helping me on making some clarity regarding what I want and what is best for me right now. It’s a moment of deep losses and loneliness but also a moment where I could achieve results I wasn’t expecting on the professional side, so this emotional roller coaster is not easy to ride, but with the support I’m receiving from Patricia I am feeling better.”

https://www.betterhelp.com/patricia-andersen/

Takeaway

Many of us grapple with loneliness at one point or another, but you can find ways to learn from these feelings and move forward with your life by prioritizing your mental health. Knowing what makes you happy and brings you a sense of purpose can help you start moving in a healthier direction. Utilizing the services offered by online therapy may allow you to reach your goals more effectively. A mental health professional can help you pinpoint why you’re feeling lonely and learn to appreciate solitude. Once you find that happiness and sense of purpose, you may find that your loneliness naturally fades away.
Depression is treatable, and you're not alone
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