For me there’s always been a very thin line between wanting to be alone and feeling lonely. I genuinely love spending a weekend day by myself watching Gossip Girl reruns, but sometimes I’ll get pangs of loneliness along the way. In general, there are ways to avoid feeling lonely that I know not only work for me, but for others, too. A major part of it, according to sources like Psych Central, is getting yourself in the right mindset.
As we rapidly approach Valentine’s Day, this time of year can feel especially lonely for those who are single. However, that feeling of loneliness isn’t exclusive to the single ladies. Anyone can experience loneliness despite their relationship status, and as many of us can attest to, the feeling can really suck. In fact, we can be sitting right next to another living, breathing, human being and still feel overwhelming sensations of loneliness.
What exactly is loneliness? According to University of Florida’s Counseling & Wellness Center, loneliness is the feeling of being alone and feeling sad about it. That said — as we’ll get to — it’s not the actual state of being alone, but rather the feeling of being alone. Did you ever hear someone say they felt lonely in a crowded room? There you have it… it’s a feeling.
Below are seven simple ways to avoid feeling lonely. Once you start getting these wheels into motion, you can start preventing the loneliness from plaguing you as much in the future.
1. Remember That You Are Not, In Fact, Alone
Loneliness is a feeling, not a fact, as I was recently reminded of by Psych Central. The outlet noted that when you are feeling lonely, it’s due to something triggering a memory of that feeling — it’s not because you are actually isolated and alone. Changing your mindset on this can be completely refreshing. To do that, when you feel this sense of loneliness coming on, realize that it is just a feeling, accept it, and move forward. Don’t allow your mind to wander to irrational thoughts like, “I’m alone and I have no one.” These inaccuracies will unjustly tear you down.
2. Nourish New & Existing Relationships
If you spend a great deal of time by yourself because you don’t have many friends, let’s make you some. Friendships are easy, I promise you that. In fact, I recently became instant friends with someone at 7-11 for the sole reason that I broke a case of Diet Coke, the cans rolled everywhere across the store, and he helped me (I wish I was kidding). The world of friends is yours for the taking! Be kind to your cube-mate at work, or the person you see in line at the coffee shop every morning, or the other ladies in your nightly yoga class.
Once you’ve established a friend (or more!), make sure to give the friendship the time and attention it deserves, according to Psych Central. If you have existing friendships with people you don’t spend a lot of time with, call them up and make a plan to meet and catch up — we’ll talk more on that shortly.
3. Log Off Of Your Social Media Accounts
I’m not sure about you, but nothing makes me feel more lonely than seeing how not lonely other people are. According to an article in The Atlantic, the use of social media has made us a generally lonelier population of people. Next time you start to feel that influx of lonely feelings creep up as you’re scrolling through Facebook, log out. It’s as simple as that. Close out of your other social networking accounts too, and use the time you would have spent doing that to meet up with friends in person.
4. Train Yourself To Never Bail On Plans
Psych Central agrees — always show up for plans you make with others. Personally, when I have friends who continuously bail on plans, eventually I just stop asking them to join me. I know the flip side has happened to me as well. It can feel really nice to cancel plans and stay in your sweats on a Sunday morning, but think twice. Use my little trick before cancelling: I stop and remind myself that while it may feel relieving to cancel plans right now, it can easily result in utter loneliness/sadness when I’m not included in plans next time.
5. Be More Of A Go-Getter
This is particularly dramatic of me, but on a recent day I allowed myself to get to a point where I was feeling incredibly lonely and bad for myself, and felt that I didn’t have anyone at all to turn to. This was very false, especially given earlier that very day I’d been beating myself up over not returning calls from multiple friends and family members. I had people to talk to — I just almost wanted to feel bad for myself.
In those situations, be a freakin’ go-getter. Pick up the phone and call a friend or relative, or email them, or get your butt in your car and drive to their house. According to University of Florida’s Counseling & Wellness Center, talking to an understanding friend can help change our mood. If you genuinely don’t have any close friends or family to speak to, the Counseling & Wellness Center suggested speaking with a teacher, pastor, or counselor.
6. Join A Club With Others Who Share Your Favorite Hobby
As a writer, my hobby can feel incredibly lonely — up until the wee hours of the morning at my desk, just me and my computer. However, during one of those writing sessions it dawned on me that there are plenty of other writers out there who are doing the very same thing at the very same moment. After that, I started seeking out writers’ groups, and found that I was correct — many of these individuals had experienced those feelings, but found solace in confiding in each other about them (and about writing tips as well, of course).
By joining something of interest to you — whether it's a club to enhance your public speaking skills, a painting class, a book club, etc. — you can meet others who share your likes. You can also quickly increase your chances for social interactions — a tip Psych Central confirmed is helpful in fighting loneliness.
7. Get A Roommate
If you live alone and can’t seem to beat that feeling of loneliness, you might want to consider getting a roommate. The Huffington Post published an article on ways people can shake loneliness during retirement, and suggested these individuals explore roommate options. While likely none of you reading this article are in your retirement days at the moment (ahhh, but we can dream, can’t we!), this suggestion still holds valid. Huffington Post noted a roommate could help prevent loneliness by giving people someone to share their daily experiences with.
Ultimately, I’m a firm believer that different things make different people happy, so if you thoroughly enjoy spending time by yourself, go for it! However, remember that to best combat any potential feelings of loneliness you may encounter, you can try some of the tips discussed here. Even if you choose to spend a lot of your free time alone, don’t forget about the importance of having someone to talk to if you want to live a lonely-free existence.