How To Cope With Loneliness
By: Darby Faubion
Updated May 19, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Laura Angers
Have you ever felt like there was no one you could connect with? Do you know what it's like to feel isolated? There are times when we all want to be alone for a while. However, when enjoying peaceful "alone time" turns into feelings of loneliness, it can feel quite overwhelming.
Loneliness is defined as "feelings of sadness or depression because one has no friends or acquaintances; the feeling of being isolated." It causes people to feel empty, alone, and unwanted. People who are lonely often crave human contact, but their state of mind makes it more difficult to form connections with other people.
If you find yourself feeling lonely, it's important to know that you are not alone and that there are ways to establish relationships and overcome loneliness. By first identifying the reason that you feel lonely, you can address ways to decrease those feelings and establish relationships that give you a sense of fulfillment.
The Truth About Loneliness
Loneliness is often not the result of being alone, but more about the lack of satisfactory relationships. While being alone is defined as lacking the presence of another, a person who is lonely can feel so in a room full of people.
A 2018 survey conducted by Cigna insurance revealed that, although loneliness is a common occurrence, approximately 54% of people deny feeling lonely and 53% do not report feeling left out by others. So, while loneliness may be prevalent in society, the results of this survey suggest that loneliness does not have to be a permanent situation. Further in this article, we will discuss ways to help resolve loneliness and lessen the chances of its reoccurrence.
There are several things that can help as you begin to address loneliness and try to prevent its return. For example:
Take a break from social media
We are surrounded by technology and ways to "connect" with people. However, if you find yourself using social media more than you interact with people on a personal level, it may be time for a break. When individuals take a break from social media, they usually become more focused on seeking out more meaningful interactions. When this happens, those relationships seem to help the loneliness subside.
Spend quality time with a friend/loved one
When it comes to loneliness, quality time is often much more important than "quantity time." By intentionally planning some quality time with a friend or loved one, you are allowing yourself to engage with others. While your time may be limited, if you make the most of it (quality time), you may be surprised at how much better you begin to feel.
If your loneliness stems from a lack of self-esteem or the fear of rejection, making social connections may feel out of your comfort zone. However, socializing with others is a great way to address the feelings of loneliness. This doesn't have to be difficult or awkward, small efforts of social connection can make a huge difference. For example, instead of sending an instant message to someone you work with, walk down the hall to their office and speak to them personally. Instead of sending an email to a friend, call them. Once you have conquered the small steps, you will find that you become more comfortable with social interaction. There are apps to help make meeting new people easier too.
Pay attention to your feelings
As previously mentioned, it is normal to feel occasional loneliness. However, if your periods of loneliness become more frequent or last longer, it's time to take a step toward resolving the issues.
Don't be afraid to seek help
If you feel overwhelmed by loneliness or you don't know which steps to first take, you may find that seeking the help of a counselor or therapist could be beneficial. A counselor can help you get to the root of your emotions and help you learn to address the loneliness you feel.
With increased awareness regarding mental health and well-being, resources for counseling have also increased. Today, individuals who are interested in seeking the services of a counselor or therapist can choose the traditional route of in-person sessions in a physician or counselor's office. Some schools have in-house student counselors that offer services. Further still, a growing trend in the field of mental healthcare is online counseling.
While many people could benefit from the help of a counselor, not everyone feels as though they have the time or financial resources necessary to seek help. This is where online counseling may be a great option. Online counseling services, such as those provided by BetterHelp, are aimed at offering licensed, experienced mental health professionals to help navigate through difficult experiences in life. Below are some reviews of BetterHelp counselors, from people experiencing similar issues.
"It's nice to know that you're not alone. Amee Chacon helps me realize that and shares some of the experiences I went through, which helps me a lot."
"Colleen has been an intricate part of my healing and I know that I would not be as successful as I am without her encouragement, support and advice. She is always there when I need her without hesitation and fully understands the goals I have and the challenges I face. She has wonderful techniques in helping me release and cope with stress and anxiety and it has greatly reduced my depression. Colleen is an absolutely fantastic therapist and I can't recommend her highly enough!"
While loneliness is an emotion that everyone experiences from time to time, it's important to realize that loneliness does not mean you are alone. There are many measures that can be put in place to help reduce feelings of loneliness. If it becomes a constant problem, or if you feel overwhelmed, it's okay to reach out for help. Whether you choose to pursue growing your social network, participate in group therapy, or initiate one-on-one counseling with a therapist, there are compassionate people who are ready to support you. Take the first step today.
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