7 Tips For How To Deal With Loneliness
By: Robert Porter
Updated July 03, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Juan Angel
Have you ever felt all alone in the world? We all do sometimes and it isn't easy. When you're going through a difficult time and feel there's no one to turn to for support, it's hard to know what to do. But those who are feeling isolated or alone should know there are always people who care about their wellbeing.
Learning how to address your feeling of loneliness can also be a step in helping you address other mental health issues that you may be facing. The United States is facing a big problem with isolation, loneliness, and related challenges. One study found that out of young people in the United States, 25% don’t have any friends they confide in. This is a problem that needs to be addressed to help the mental health of the country.
How Do You Deal with Loneliness?
Humans are social creatures by nature. You long to connect with others and you want to be loved. It's normal to want to have someone you can love in return. Learning how to cope with loneliness isn't simple, but there's much you can do to regain that feeling of value and belonging. There are effective ways you can deal with loneliness, and professional help is available if you're in need. This article will cover tools to cope with, and move past, loneliness.
First, it's important to note that even if you feel lonely right now, you're not alone. Millions of people are going through similar struggles. It's estimated that over 40% of all people will experience loneliness at some point in their lives. Even those who appear connected and popular can feel isolated from others.
Many people successfully overcome feelings of loneliness through therapy, and those who have signed up for online therapy at BetterHelp find it a valuable resource for combating loneliness. These therapy sessions help people change the way they look at the world, and open up to new possibilities. Some may also benefit from antidepressants prescribed by a doctor to treat associated depression issues. Regardless of whether or not you're a good candidate for medication, or what mode of therapy works best for you, it's important to seek treatment when you're feeling down. You're not alone in this fight.
The 7 Tips for Dealing with Loneliness
Below we're suggesting seven methods for dealing with loneliness, all of which will be helpful in their own ways. Consider which methods might be most useful to you.
1. Accept That Loneliness Is Normal. Just knowing that others around the globe are experiencing the same feelings of loneliness can be helpful. As mentioned earlier, 40% of people will experience loneliness at some point in time. That number may seem high-after all, the internet and social networking makes it easier than ever to connect. But loneliness is subjective. It's possible to feel lonely even if you have a significant other, children, or lots of friends.
So if you're looking for an answer on how to cure loneliness in your own life, just realize there are millions of others feeling the same way. This normal emotion is one that almost everyone experiences at some point, and it's something that you can overcome.
2. Recognize the Effects of Loneliness So You Can Combat Them. Loneliness can be felt. Studies show that being lonely can make you feel colder than those around you, can increase cholesterol and blood pressure, and can even stop your immune system from functioning properly. Loneliness can also disrupt your sleep. Because loneliness puts your body on 'high alert,' it can make you more prone to sleep problems. Insomnia and lack of true rest can both be a result of loneliness. Loneliness leads to self-destructive habits. Drug abuse, gambling habits, and other self-destructive actions have all been linked to loneliness. Finding a cure for loneliness can prevent these habits from developing in the first place. It can also be important for addressing suicide prevention. If you’re struggling with thoughts of suicide, contact a national helpline like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.
Lastly, loneliness can affect your mental health. As it increases, so does depression. One of the main signs of depression is no longer wanting to do things you used to enjoy, including spending time with your friends. If you think your feelings of loneliness may be a small part of a more bigger problem, you should consider seeking help from someone who specializes in treating loneliness as a mental health professional.
3. Seek Professional Help. Meeting with a mental health professional is one of the most helpful steps you can take if you're trying to overcome loneliness and the underlying issues that may lead to it. A therapist can help you explore the factors behind your feelings. Other issues surrounding your loneliness can be addressed as well. For example, if you've recently lost a family member or close friend, you may be experiencing both loneliness and grief. Having an experienced professional to support you through the healing process can make all the difference.
Sometimes, you might even feel lonely due to your location. Military members who are deployed or spouses who are separated from family and friends often experience a sense of loneliness that seems unsolvable. You may struggle with meeting new people. If you are in an area where you have few resources, mental health or otherwise, seeking professional help might seem impossible. It can be the same for those suffering from depression. In situations like this, a program like BetterHelp can be beneficial. BetterHelp is unique because counseling takes place through an online platform that you can access from any place you feel comfortable. And many people find the BetterHelp program a lot more convenient and affordable than in-person counseling.
4. Nurture Existing Relationships. Loneliness can make us pull away from our relationships, even when we desire them the most. By nurturing the relationships you already have, you can put yourself on a path to overcoming loneliness. When the people you once loved or connected with feel distant, it can be hard to take the first step towards fortifying those bonds. Here are some ideas for connecting again:
- Schedule time each day (or week) to call or visit a friend.
- Invite someone out for lunch.
- Start up conversations with neighbors when you can.
- Use social media to reconnect with those you've lost touch with due to time or distance.
- Join a group or club with interests you share.
5. Practice Positive Self-Talk. You might be asking what getting rid of negative self-talk has to do with loneliness, but the two go hand-in-hand. When you're feeling lonely, and you start to think something like "Ugh, I hate my life, no one wants to spend time with me," you're adding to your loneliness. Now you're not only missing social connections but also taking a beating to your self-esteem.
Make an effort to catch these thoughts and replace them with a positive message instead. The process of positive self-talk takes practice, but it can be part of a simple cure for loneliness. If you decide to seek out online therapy, then you'll learn all about these positive self-talk techniques. It's a good way to combat negative feelings and it can significantly improve your life.
6. Find a Hobby. Boredom adds weight to loneliness. If you're already struggling with feelings of loneliness or social isolation, the cure isn't watching Netflix by yourself every night. Instead, find something to occupy your time. Make sure that what you choose has some social aspect to it. Taking pictures in the park and joining a gardening group through Meetup are both good options. Doing a jigsaw puzzle alone in your apartment, not so much. Take some time to explore hobby options and then get out there. The "getting out there" part is usually the hardest.
Hobbies that you do by yourself can still be fun, but try to get yourself out more. You might love watching movies or playing video games alone, but sometimes this isn't going to be the right answer. Do your best to pick out some fun new hobbies that will place you in social situations. It could wind up being the push that you need to improve your social life and it can be a cure for loneliness.
7. Find Volunteer Opportunities. One way to combat loneliness is to put yourself in places where you can meet new people. That's why people go to places like bars and clubs, right? But sometimes just going to public places doesn't do the trick, especially for people whose loneliness is worsened by issues like shyness or social anxiety. By volunteering, you're not only putting yourself in a place where you can meet people, but you'll also be focused on a task. This can help prevent feelings of awkwardness that might arise if you don't have a particular purpose. It can also give you something to look forward to if you're struggling to find meaning in your life.
Another great thing about volunteering is the people you meet are likely to share your interests. For example, if you love animals, you might consider volunteering at a local shelter. This is a place where you're sure to meet other dog or cat people that you can connect with. It'll be much easier to connect if you're with others who like the same things you do. Not sure where to start? Ask around locally or use an online platform like Create the Good or Volunteer Match.
Outside of the ideas above, if you’re struggling with feeling lonely and don’t have friends and family that you can connect with, you may benefit from joining a support group.
BetterHelp Can Make a Difference in Your Life
Signing up for online therapy at BetterHelp is something that can make a difference in your life. Signup is easy, and the matching process is personalized so that you're paired with the perfect counselor for you. Depending on when you sign up, you might qualify for a free trial that will help you decide if counseling can help you deal with your loneliness. These professionals understand what you're going through and can teach you the best coping methods.
You can reach out to an online therapist today without even having to leave your house. These therapists are available to speak to you at any time and there are many different therapy options available. Don't wait to contact a therapist if you're in need. These compassionate professionals will be happy to help you with your loneliness and any other struggles you might be going through. Take a look at some BetterHelp counselor reviews to see how they have helped others in your situation.
BetterHelp Counselor Reviews
"Peter is very caring. He is a good listener and gives me good tools to deal with my problems. I feel supported and less alone. I highly recommend him as a counselor. He has helped me through very difficult times."
"I have a lot of high stressors happening in my life right now, it has been extremely beneficial to have someone from the outside looking in to help me see what I do not and be able to have someone helping guide me through it. I appreciate being able to have a constant conversation and send a message when it is most convenient. I have a busy life right now and knowing I have someone to talk too (if I need too) every day has made me feel less alone and capable of achieving my goals."
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
- How do you know if you're lonely?
If you're feeling alone and isolated and you crave human connection, it's safe to say that you're lonely. Loneliness and Depression can go together depending on how you're feeling. Experiencing loneliness once in a while is normal, but if you are feeling lonely more than once in a while, you may want to seek the help of a mental health professional.
- How does loneliness affect you?
You could feel lonely in a crowd once in a while if you are not comfortable in that setting. You may also end up feeling misunderstood or, like what you have to add to a situation, isn't worthwhile. Loneliness is a feeling that affects your emotional state, but it can also affect your physical wellbeing. Potential effects of loneliness and isolation include a weaker immune system, higher blood pressure, mental health conditions, and even an increased risk of mortality. Once you realize that loneliness is affecting you, it's essential to seek the help of your support system. If you feel like you don't have close friends or family, you can talk to a mental health professional like a therapist.
- What do you do if you feel lonely around other people?
Sometimes, when we're in situations where we don't feel understood, we feel lonely. You may feel lonely in a crowd when you're with people who make you feel like you don't feel like you fit in. It could happen at school, at work, or even among your family members. You may experience loneliness and Depression together, and they may feed into one another if you feel this way. It's important to understand that even when you feel like you're alone, you're not; there are a lot of other people out there going through similar things. Some people understand you and care.
- How do you know if you're feeling lonely and depressed?
If you're feeling down, misunderstood, and as if there's no hope, you may be experiencing both loneliness and Depression. Depression makes you feel isolated, and like you don't want to reach out for help. Being depressed can inherently make you feel alone, so it depends on the person; the symptoms of Depression vary from person to person. Some people may feel a lack of energy, trouble reaching out to friends.
- How do you overcome loneliness if you have social anxiety?
Loneliness and social anxiety can go together because if you're anxious about being around others, you're unlikely to go to social events and meet other people. However, it's essential to challenge those anxious feelings, get out there, and experience life. If you feel like you're experiencing social anxiety, you can talk to a therapist who can help you work through it.
- What are some ways to decrease loneliness?
One way to decrease loneliness is to acknowledge that loneliness is a feeling that we all feel. The best way to reduce isolation is, of course, to seek out other people. Sometimes, this means reaching out to old friends, and sometimes, this means making new ones. You can try going to a class you want to take, such as a dance class or an art class. You can also meet people through online groups of free community events in your area. If a mental health concern is the cause of your loneliness, talk therapy can be beneficial, as can group therapy. The most important thing to do is to look at why you're feeling lonely and make the jump to put yourself out there. It can be intimidating, but there are a lot of other people in your shoes, so don't be afraid. Almost wherever you go, someone is feeling the same way.
- What loneliness can do to a person?
Feeling lonely can take a toll on a person’s mental health. When you feel isolated and alone it may be easier to start thinking that no one around you cares about you, even if that’s not true. This can make it even harder to reach out for help. The more you feel this way, the more you may find yourself withdrawing from others around you. This can be a dangerous cycle.
Loneliness can also lead to depression which can lead to thoughts of suicide. This is one reason why there is a national helpline for suicide prevention (1-800-273-8255). There is always someone available to talk with you and help you through difficult times.
- How do you fight loneliness?
The right way to fight feeling lonely depends on what’s causing you to feel that way. There are many different causes including things like abuse and mental health challenges like depression or substance abuse disorder. It may also be something like you’ve recently moved and are in a place where you don’t know anyone. Figuring out why you’re feeling lonely is the first step.
If you’re lonely because you don’t know anyone, or you’ve lost touch with friends and family then this is a great place to start. You can begin investing periods of time into connecting with others. Look for activity groups to join or do your best to start spending time with people you love.
If you’re lonely because you struggle with mental health disorders on your own because you’re hiding symptoms, like with an eating disorder or substance abuse disorder, telling someone what you’re going through can be a good first step. This could be a trusted family member or friend or a mental health professional like a therapist.
If you’re struggling with loneliness and you aren’t sure why it can be helpful to reach out for help. A doctor can talk with you about your health information to see if it could be stemming from anything that medication could help with. And a therapist can help you discover other areas that may be contributing to it whether it’s a mental health disorder or behaviors in your life.
- Can loneliness change your personality?
Feeling lonely can have a large impact on your personality. You may not feel like yourself and find that you start to be more withdrawn even if you used to be outgoing. You may also find that you struggle with concentrating and problem solving. You may become more negative in the way that you think and act. This can lead to a cycle that spirals you into even more serious struggles like having suicidal thoughts.
If loneliness is starting to impact your personality, reach out for help.
- How do I know if I am lonely?
Being able to recognize the signs of loneliness is important in being able to overcome it. Signs that you may be struggling include:
- Struggle with sleeping
- Not having anyone that you can confide in
- You find you’re getting sick more often
- Change in weight (gaining or losing)
- On social media constantly
- Feeling like you can’t compare with others
- Feel like you’re on the outside of the group
- Cry easily
Some young adults find that even though they have large numbers of connections on social media, they still don’t really feel like they have real connections with people. Social media can be a way to connect with others but it’s not an equal replacement for having friends that you talk to or see in person.
- Is being lonely unhealthy?
Being lonely can be unhealthy. When you feel alone you may feel there is no one to turn to when you’re struggling with things like your mental health. This can lead to anxiety, depression, and even thoughts of suicide. When you feel lonely it’s easy to trick yourself into thinking that there is no one that cares about you. However, that’s usually not true and even if you don’t have personal connections in life, there are people that choose to spend their time with nonprofits and the suicide prevention helpline to be there for you when you need them.
- Can a person go crazy from loneliness?
While “crazy” isn’t the right word, loneliness can negatively impact your mental health. It can impact both your mental health and your physical health. People that are lonely are cold more than others, they can struggle with body inflammation, and have increased stressed hormones. It can cause you to start to feel suspicious of those around you. Being lonely can impact the way that you think and perceive what’s happening around you. These are all reasons why it’s important to address your root cause of loneliness.
- How do marriages deal with loneliness?
If partners within a marriage are lonely, they can benefit from working with a couples therapist. The mental health professional can help them to determine where their struggle is coming from. It could be that they aren’t making enough time for each other or that one or both partners struggles with a mental health disorder. The therapist can help both partners to learn important coping strategies for getting their marriage back on track and helping them to connect with each other better.
It can also be important to have friends that you can turn to besides your partner as well. If you’re counting on your spouse to be all the social interaction and support that you need, you’ll likely end up disappointed and your spouse may end up burnt out. Form healthy friendships that can help combat loneliness.
- Why do I have to be so lonely?
If you’re struggling with loneliness as part of a mental health challenge, then it probably feels like it’s completely out of your control. And while you’re probably not choosing to be lonely, there are things that you can do to help overcome it. A therapist can discuss your health information with you to pinpoint what’s causing your loneliness and then work with you to see the best options for overcoming it.
Feeling lonely can feel hopeless but you don’t have to stay in that place.
- What should we do when we are sad?
If you’re feeing sad it’s important that you learn how to acknowledge the feeling instead of pushing it away. Being able to see why you’re feeling sad will help you know how to deal with it. For example, if you’ve recently lost a loved one, sadness is a natural part of grief. Learning how to work through your grief can help.
If you aren’t sure why you’re feeling sad, it may help to talk with a trusted person in your life or to reach out for support from a therapist. You may also find it helpful to do things like journaling or mindfulness meditation which can help you get more in touch with what feelings you’re experiencing in a healthy way.
- Is loneliness a choice?
When people are choosing to spend time alone because they want to, they’re not likely to struggle with the negative symptoms of loneliness. Typically, those that are seeing the signs of loneliness are those that have things outside of their control that are contributing to the feelings. This could be being the victim of abuse or struggling with a mental health disorder.
If you feel lonely, think about what’s causing it. If it’s just that you haven’t made an effort to connect with your friends, ask yourself “why?”. Keep going until you get to the root cause of it. If it’s just that you haven’t made an effort to spend time with them, then call them up and get together.
But if you discover that your loneliness is coming from a larger problem or you aren’t sure why you’re feeling lonely, reach out for mental health services that can help.
- What does loneliness do to the brain?
Loneliness can impact the way that you feel and think. It’s often linked with mental health challenges like anxiety and depression which impact specific areas of the brain. It’s believed that chronic loneliness has the ability to impact cognition, concentration, and your brain chemistry. This can cause your loneliness to impact your emotions and your physical health as well.
- What happens if you spend too much time alone?
Spending too much time alone can cause you to spin further into loneliness. It may make it feel harder to reach out of your comfort zone and start spending time with others. You may also start to feel excluded from your group of friends even if you’re the reason why you weren’t spending time with them. The longer this goes, the harder it can feel to pull out of it. Working with a therapist can help you see steps that you can take to form close connections again.
- What are the signs of a toxic marriage?
A toxic marriage can cause negative problems for your mental health. They can look many different ways. For example, it could include things like abusive behavior. This could include physical abuse, verbal abuse, or psychological abuse. Your partner may struggle with substance abuse and mental health disorders which effects their behavior. Or they may struggle with narcissistic personality disorder. Some narcissists isolate their partners from family and friends which can result in them feeling lonely.
If you feel like your marriage is negatively impacting your mental health in any way, it could be toxic. It’s important to get help. This could be by confiding in people you trust, meeting with a therapist, or joining a support group.
- Why do I feel lonely in my marriage?
Feeling lonely in marriage can stem from many different things. Many young adults start to spend less time with friends as they get more serious in relationships. Once they settle into marriage, they may realize they haven’t prioritized their friendships and aren’t as close with others.
Or you may feel lonely in your marriage because you’re in a toxic marriage. Your spouse may make it difficult for you to maintain relationships with others. This can be a form of abuse. And mental health may suffer as a result. It can be important to maintain a close circle of friends or family that you can trust and count on for support. If you don’t have this in life, you may benefit from joining support groups of people that are going through similar experiences.
You may also struggle with loneliness if you’re dealing with problems that you don’t share with your spouse. This could include things like eating disorders, substance abuse disorders, or other mental health challenges like depression. In these cases, finding options for mental health services can help. Finding the right disorder treatment based on your challenges can help you address the underlying cause of why you’re experiencing loneliness.
If you try these tips and are still having trouble overcoming your loneliness or struggling with your mental health, seek the advice of a trusted friend or family member. Using your voice to ask for the things you need can help you moved past these temporary feelings and into the life you deserve. Loneliness does not have to be a permanent feeling. You can get help and move on to happier days.
Don't hesitate to reach out to an online therapist if you're in need. They'll be happy to assist you and you'll always have someone to turn to when you're feeling blue. The biggest mistake that you could make is to assume that you need to face this battle alone. There are always going to be people who want to help. And if you feel lonely and have thoughts of suicide seek help immediately. There are national helplines like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline you can call at 1-800-273-8255 or you can go directly to an emergency room.