How To Not Feel Lonely: Five Tips For Finding Your Community

Medically reviewed by April Justice, LICSW
Updated June 18, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Feeling lonely is normal, and many people feel this way. Even though social media and seemingly instant connections are often at their disposal, more people report higher loneliness rates. Loneliness is now considered an epidemic in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Loneliness can be difficult to understand because it can affect people, even when they have friends and connections. Exploring the meaning of loneliness, its causes, and ways to combat these feelings may help you move forward and be compassionate toward yourself and others. 

A woman in a grey sweater sits alone hunched over on a step outside of a brick building with a sad expression.
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What is loneliness?

Some people may believe loneliness is a word for being alone or not having people in one’s life. However, a person can be physically alone, take alone time, and not feel lonely. Contrarily, some people may be surrounded by others and experience intense loneliness. Loneliness is a state of mind and not a measurement of how many people are around you. Loneliness affects everyone differently. 

Because loneliness is unique to specific individuals, there is no universal cause or way to reduce feelings. A student who is bullied at school and struggling to make connections might experience intense loneliness in a large school surrounded by people. Contrarily, someone who willingly moves to a remote area and lives far away from society might not feel lonely. Loneliness is not solitude. However, some common risk factors could prompt this sensation. 

Research has found that introversion, depression, low self-esteem, social isolation, a lack of deep connection, and poor social skills are commonly associated with loneliness. Humans are social creatures with a natural inclination to form connections with other people. Loneliness arises when one’s social and belonging needs are not adequately met. 

Lonely people might hear advice to “shake it off” or socialize to feel better. However, loneliness is often challenging to get rid of. The adverse health effects of depression and anxiety are well established. Aside from the mental anguish that can go along with loneliness, research has linked these feelings to genuine health risks. Even at young ages, loneliness has a higher correlation with poor health and poor behaviors. For this reason, a lonely young people might be in worse health than an older person who is not lonely. 

A man in a blue shirt sits in a wheelchair at a wooden kitchen table and gazes off with a sad expression.
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Is loneliness an epidemic? 

You might hear the word “epidemic” in reference to loneliness. In 2023, the United States Surgeon General officially declared that the US is experiencing a loneliness epidemic. In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, loneliness is reaching historic highs. 

Although the world has been “reopened” for some time since the initial severity of the pandemic subsided, society may be struggling to get back to the way it was. A survey from June 2022 to February 2023 asked 1000 adults from each country about loneliness, and 51% of participants reported feeling lonely. The survey covered roughly 77% of the world’s adult population, suggesting the loneliness epidemic is affecting people no matter where they reside.

When dealing with the reality of loneliness, not giving in to hopelessness and pessimism can be a step toward reducing the risk of depression. Accepting that you are experiencing loneliness and that others are in the same spot may help you know you are not alone in your experience. If your loneliness becomes difficult to bear, reaching out to a mental health professional for support may be helpful. 

Five tips for finding your community and reducing loneliness 

One possible antidote to alleviating loneliness is finding a community outside of your own company. People may seek a “home away from home” where they fit in and mesh with others. In today’s fast-paced world, finding time may be difficult, but there are ways people can reach out and form connections. Below are tips to alleviate loneliness. 

Volunteer in your community 

Taking steps to give back to others is a way to boost self-esteem and become more connected to your community. Volunteer groups may also prompt you to be social and get to know members of your community who are like-minded. 

Find special interest groups

If you have a hobby like gaming or sports, you might be able to find others with similar interests. Cities often have meetup groups focusing on a particular hobby or special niche interest to help individuals meet like-minded people and combat loneliness. For example, there may be a basketball club that goes out and builds camaraderie through shooting hoops or a Star Trek trivia club that meets at the local bar every Thursday. Look for your interests and start talking to others. 

Consider churches and spiritual centers

Religious and spiritual connections may benefit your emotional health and guide you to overcome loneliness. While each person is different in their beliefs, those with religious beliefs may find a connection through their local church, synagogue, temple, or other religious center. Some people may not be religious. In these cases, there may still be groups to join that reflect values. An atheist or agnostic might find solace in joining a secular humanism group. Someone who isn’t religious but leans in a spiritual direction might find comfort in joining a transcendental meditation club. 

Practice artistic endeavors

People with special talents like stand-up comedy or playing an instrument might enjoy practicing these hobbies with others to feel connected through art. Getting involved in your local art scene can connect you with people on the same page as you. In addition, these activities may alleviate social anxiety and make forming future connections more accessible. Studies show that singing or playing instruments in a music group can improve mental health

Utilize online resources

For some, genuine online connections can blossom into long-term, real-life friendships. Sites like Reddit and Facebook feature interest-based and local groups that may guide you in connecting with people and finding your community.

A group of adults stand at a roof top bar on a sunny day and laugh while chatting.
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Navigate loneliness in a professional, safe environment

Find professional support 

You might have tried every strategy and coping mechanism suggested in this article and may still be experiencing feelings of loneliness and isolation. While these feelings may seem impossible to overcome, hope and help are available. Connecting with a licensed mental health professional may help you reduce loneliness. 

If you face barriers to in-person therapy, you may also find online options, like BetterHelp, more accessible. Online platforms often offer resources like support groups alongside weekly therapy sessions, which may help you talk to others experiencing loneliness. In addition, you can message your therapist any time during the week for support and receive a response as soon as they are available.  

Studies show that online interventions may be effective in reducing common causes of loneliness, such as anxiety and depression. This intervention may be more effective than face-to-face options in reducing symptom severity, improving quality of life, and offering cost-effective options for therapy.  

Takeaway

Loneliness is considered an epidemic. While the statistics may cause one to experience hopelessness, support is available. Taking advantage of local resources and finding a community where you fit in may improve mental and physical health. You may also consider contacting a therapist online or in your area for support.

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