How To Work Through Loneliness

The article is developed in partnership with BetterHelp.

If you’ve been struggling with isolation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, or have this feeling of deep loneliness you can’t shake, you’re not alone. Now more than ever, many of us are feeling disconnected from each other. Whether it’s mental health struggles, the distractions of social media and phone addiction, or being separated from our friends and family for too long, loneliness seems to be pervasive. 

Canva pro stock image in black and white showing a single tree in a barren wasteland
It can be hard to know why you are lonely and to change how you feel

Humans by nature long for intimacy, connection, and social bonding. We need the help, love, and support of our families, friends, and greater community to thrive. If you feel all alone in the world or are experiencing a deep emptiness where human connection should be, there are things you can do to work through this tough chapter and improve your situation. Keep reading to understand loneliness and tips for coping with it. 

Why Do I Feel Lonely? 

If you’re feeling lonely, just know you’re not the only one who feels that way. In fact, a 2021 Harvard study found that 36% of Americans feel intense loneliness. There is a myriad of reasons people might be experiencing loneliness, including: 

  • Being physically isolated from others.
  • The death or loss of someone important in life.
  • A divorce or big breakup.
  • Living with depression.
  • Low self-esteem, believing one is unworthy or incapable of deep social connection.

Do any of these resonate with you? If you’re dealing with grief, depression, physical isolation, or social anxiety, it may be causing your feelings of loneliness. 

It’s crucial to pinpoint why it is that you feel lonely before you can take steps to improve the situation. Unfortunately, many people who feel deeply lonely struggle to understand where the feeling comes from. 

It may take intense self-reflection and even talking with a mental health professional to identify the key causes of your loneliness. You can also read more about the topic of loneliness here

Tips For Coping with Loneliness

Once you have a clearer understanding about the causes of the loneliness you’re feeling, you’ll be ready to take steps to change it. Loneliness is not something you are doomed to feel for the rest of your life. It may come and go in waves, but by taking action and shifting mindsets, you can overcome it. Here are some useful tips and steps you can take to cope with loneliness.

Realise That It’s Normal

Sometimes the simplest antidote to loneliness is realising you’re never really alone in life’s struggles. The fact that nearly 40% of Americans alone say they experience deep loneliness should help you realise that there are others around the world who understand. 

This also means that there are abundant success stories from those who have felt deeply lonely and overcome this to find love and fulfilment. Know you aren’t the only one feeling it, and you won’t be stuck living that reality forever.

Seek Professional Help

If you believe your loneliness may be stemming from depression or depressed moods, you don’t have to figure it all out without help. In fact, if you’re in a place where you’re feeling empty and alone in the world, you should consider seeking a mental health professional to support you.

There are plenty of in-person and online therapists who specialise in depression that can guide you through this tough part of your journey. Sometimes, having an unbiased ear to listen that truly cares about uplifting and guiding you can make all the difference. 

But it’s important to note that not every single therapist is going to be the perfect fit for you. Meet with different ones until it feels right. Think of a mental health professional like a friendship; if they’re a bad fit, you’re not obligated to just stick around forever. 

Commit Time to Connecting with Loved Ones

Sometimes we want to believe we can go it alone in life, because relationships can be very hard to start or maintain. But unfortunately, isolation from loved ones or people in general goes against our neurological wiring. Community, no matter how small or large, is essential for survival. 

Fortunately, most of us have at least one person that truly loves us in life. Loneliness may ironically cause us to withdraw from those very people, but it’s especially important in the midst of loneliness that we lean into connection. 

Set up a coffee date with an old friend, grab a special dinner with your spouse, or just call up someone and let them know you value them. Even sending a quick message to someone we care about is a major step. Connection is the antidote to loneliness.

Work On Self-Acceptance and Care

If you are struggling with low self-esteem or believe you aren’t worthy of the love, attention, and acceptance of others, you may experience some loneliness. This is a tough mindset to shift away from, but it absolutely can be done. 

Spending time taking better care of your physical and mental health is a huge part of that. Committing time to exercising, reaching for more nourishing foods, or treating yourself to a delicious latte can all be gestures of self-care. 

Also consider picking something you’ve always been interested in trying, such as learning a new skill, and take a class or workshop for it. Building new skills or strengthening your current skills can increase confidence, and demonstrate to yourself that you are capable and bring a lot to the table. 

Join a New Hobby That Involves Other People

Similar to reconnecting with those we already know and love, joining a new hobby, class, or activity that involves other people can combat loneliness. A lot of the time when we feel emotionally lonely, we end up unconsciously creating physical loneliness for ourselves by avoiding being around others.

But being in the company of other humans, and potentially meeting a new friend or partner out of it, can be hugely beneficial. It may take some work to get yourself out there, but once you do, you’ll likely be glad you did. It may dispel your loneliness. 

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