Feeling Empty: Strategies To Help Reclaim A Full Life

Medically reviewed by Paige Henry, LMSW, J.D.
Updated June 19, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Content warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention substance use-related topics that could be triggering to the reader. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance use, contact SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). Support is available 24/7. Please see our Get Help Now page for more immediate resources.

Feeling cut off from people, missing a sense of direction, or feeling as though you don’t have a meaningful life may all contribute to a sense of hollowness and emptiness within you. This emotion may also manifest as a lack of fulfillment in your relationships or profession. Ignoring or suppressing these feelings can lead some people to use unhelpful coping strategies like substance misuse (sometimes incorrectly referred to as “substance abuse”) or self-destructive activities. If you have thought, “I feel empty,” you are not alone; feeling empty is a common human experience, and there are ways to overcome it.

Feeling empty? Struggling to manage emotions?

Understanding the cause of feeling empty

The sensation of emptiness has a wide range of potential causes, typically resulting from several elements working together. Common life events that could lead someone to feel empty include:

  • The death of a loved one 
  • A demanding job 
  • Unrequited love
  • Relationship problems

These experiences may cause you to feel numb or sad, which can add to a sense of emptiness. To try to properly handle these emotions, it may help to explore any underlying causes. This exploration might entail self-reflection, such as journaling or confiding in close friends about your thoughts and feelings. You might also speak with a licensed online therapist to hone in on the precise reason for the empty sensation and to develop a solution together.

Finding meaning and purpose in life

Searching for meaning and purpose in life may help with overcoming a sense of emptiness. One can potentially find meaning through participating in enjoyable and fulfilling pursuits like hobbies or sports. By pursuing a new hobby or interest, you might obtain a sense of achievement and have something to look forward to. Volunteering or giving back to the community may also be beneficial since it can offer direction and community. By adding activities to your daily life, you might be able to lessen some of your sense of emptiness while you continue to explore potential underlying causes. 

Building and maintaining positive relationships

Creating and maintaining positive relationships can be an effective way to combat negative feelings of emptiness. Relationships, whether with family members, friends, partners, or children, often give us a sense of community, emotional support, and connection when we face challenges or difficult times. Establishing boundaries and engaging in healthy communication may help to create and sustain satisfying relationships with loved ones. These boundaries might involve setting firm limits yet remaining open to new relationships and experiences.

Sometimes, it can be easy to lose touch with people who were previously a large part of your life. Isolating oneself can be a common symptom of feeling empty, and some relationships may lapse as a result. It can be beneficial to reach out to people you used to be close with, taking the time to explain your situation and rebuild your relationship. 

Practicing self-care

To effectively address and resolve feelings of emptiness, you might incorporate more self-care practices into your routine. Self-care can include activities that promote both physical and mental health, such as exercising, eating nutritious food, and maintaining a proper sleep schedule. It can also mean avoiding unhealthy activities, like the misuse of alcohol or drugs (sometimes incorrectly referred to as “alcohol or drug abuse”).

In addition, finding ways to relax and have fun might be beneficial in managing your mental health and giving yourself a break. There are many strategies to employ when you feel sad or empty. You can try multiple strategies to see what works for you.

Address your feelings with the help of an online therapist at BetterHelp. Therapy is a personal experience, and not everyone will go into it seeking the same things. Keeping this in mind can ensure that you will get the most out of online therapy, regardless of what your specific goals are. If you’re still wondering if therapy is right for you, and how much therapy costs, please contact us at contact@betterhelp.com.

Making progress in overcoming feeling empty

It can be common to experience a sense of hopelessness in your pursuit of emotional stability, but it's important to remember that progress may come in the form of small successes that add up over time. Regularly reflecting on how far you have come in overcoming the sense of emptiness may help motivate you and encourage further progress. You might feel more connected to people or activities, notice a decreased stress level, believe that you have a healthier body, or have an increased sense of purpose. Additionally, you might begin to experience greater satisfaction in your life and relationships as you continue working toward reclaiming your fullness.

Online therapy might be a helpful tool if you are feeling off or experiencing a sense of emptiness. It's also possible that your feelings are the symptoms of a mental health condition. Many symptoms can go overlooked or ignored without treatment, and you may benefit from seeking out the help of a professional mental health provider in the following ways: 

  • Professional help provided by a therapist can offer a safe and encouraging environment that allows you to investigate the underlying causes of your emotions 
  • You and your therapist can work together to develop strategies to maximize your fulfillment
  • Your therapist can assist you in creating and maintaining positive relationships through effective communication and boundary-setting
  • Therapy can be an effective resource in treating a mental health condition like depression or anxiety, which may be contributing to a feeling of emptiness 

If you don’t feel comfortable going to a therapist’s office at this point, you might try online therapy. Research has demonstrated the efficacy of online therapy in treating various mental health conditions, including anxiety and depression. Additionally, online therapy enables individuals to receive mental health care without needing to attend physical visits, and provides a convenient and safe platform for therapeutic sessions. With a platform like BetterHelp, you can discuss your feelings with a licensed therapist via audio or video chat, and you can contact them via in-app messaging in between sessions if you have questions or concerns.

Feeling empty? Struggling to manage emotions?


If you are feeling empty, know that you don't have to navigate this feeling alone. Aside from the strategies mentioned above, online therapy may help you find more purpose and fulfillment in life. With BetterHelp, you can be matched with a licensed therapist who has experience helping people explore feelings of emptiness or dissatisfaction. These therapists may be able to help you learn to cope with depression, anxiety, or another mental illness you could be experiencing. Take the first step to reclaim a sense of fulfillment in life and reach out to BetterHelp today.
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