There's something about having a genuine human connection with others that can make a day so much better. Whether you text your BFF or get coffee with your SO, maintaining relationships is important. But sometimes feeling isolated happens, and while there are things you should do when you're feeling lonely, the most important thing is to make sure that your loneliness doesn't temper with your overall well-being. According to the The Wall Street Journal, loneliness isn't the same as being alone. Loneliness happens when you feel socially isolated from your desired relationships.
For instance, if you moved away from your friends or a relationship recently ended, you could naturally be experiencing loneliness. Making sure you find a way to positively deal with that loneliness rather than staying indoors and shutting down is important. "Your brain focuses on what it lacks because it evolved to meet your needs. So when you’re alone, your brain anxiously seeks a herd to keep you safe, but when you’re in a group, your brain notices the lost opportunities. This focus on the down side of each option can leave you down all the time. You can train yourself to focus on the up side instead," says Loretta Graziano Breuning, Ph.D. in an interview with Bustle over email. This could entail going outside and interacting with others or simply calling loved ones. Either way, there are plenty of ways to feel better about being alone and here are a few below.
1. Embrace Optimism
Try to approach friendships with a positive mindset, especially when you're feeling lonely. Sometimes it can feel easier to have your guard up just in case, but if you're already thinking with a negative mindset, you might prevent yourself from becoming close with others. According to Psychology Today, licensed psychologist, Guy Winch, Ph.D., said, "It’s perfectly normal to fear rejection, but you have to get yourself in the right frame of mind when you contact people so the vibe you put out is positive and inviting (rather than overly cautious and uninviting)."
2. Reach Out To Other People
"Family, friends, coworkers and everyone in between might be feeling the same way and would welcome an invitation to connect. Sharing your shut-in feeling with others will make you feel less isolated. If you can’t connect in person, reach out to loved ones via Skype," says psychotherapist Dr. Joseph Burgo in an interview with Bustle over email. Being vulnerable with others can help diminish loneliness; plus, your friends or coworkers might appreciate your honesty and feel closer to you. Plus, it's a great way to get things off your chest and view your thoughts and feelings through a new perspective.
3. Do Cardiovascular Exercise
It's hard not to constantly talk about the benefits of exercising, but it's seriously one of the best things you can do when you're trying to be more positive, especially when you're feeling lonely. "Try to elevate your heartbeat for 30 minutes per day using an exercise bike, jogging in place, doing jumping jacks, etc. Cardiovascular exercise releases endorphins and helps lift your mood," says Burgo.
4. Get Off Social Media
According to health site MindBodyGreen, looking on social media apps can actually do more harm to your mental state when you're feeling lonely. The compare and despair mentality happens when you're scrolling through the feed where you comparing your life to the ones that are on social media. Use other types of entertainment to keep your brain occupied, like reading a book, writing in a journal, or taking a walk around the park.
5. Battle Negative Thoughts
Sometimes it can be hard not to be your own worst critic, but it's best to try to eliminate those negative thoughts so you can stop preventing yourself from having good friendships. According to the Huffington Post, Ross Rosenberg, M.Ed., LCPC, CADC, CSAT, said, "Catch your inner critic’s attempts to sabotage yourself. Pay attention to self-degrading thoughts like 'I am too fat for anybody to want to date,' 'I wish I were funnier and had interesting things to say,' or 'People never seem to get me.'"
6. Get Familiar With Yourself
According to Forbes, licensed clinical social worker Karen Mason Riss said, "Often times people say they are lonely because they don’t have a spouse or they don’t have a social network, but really they feel disconnected. They don’t feel a part of something." Rather than sulking in your own misery, find something that you can connect to that will allow you to embrace your sadness. "I would allow myself to get guided to a movie or book that might speak to me. I let my inner self lead me," Riss said.
7. Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone
While getting out of your comfort zone is normally about trying something new, it doesn't necessarily mean you should feel anxious when you're doing it either. Find a healthy medium of stepping outside your comfort zone, even when you're not 100 percent sure what those activities entail. According to Psychology Today, director of the Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience John Cacioppo, Ph.D., said, "But you may begin to feel the positive sensations that can reinforce your desire to change, while building your confidence, while improving your ability to self-regulate. Even 'small talk' about sports or the weather, when it is welcomed and shared, can be a co-regulating, calming device, and the positive change it can bring to our body chemistry can help us get beyond the fearful outlook that holds us back."
8. Stop Canceling Plans
Sometimes it's easier to cancel plans (especially for introverts) so you don't have to deal with the stress of socializing with others, but by doing that, you may be solidifying your loneliness. According to PsychCentral, if you made plans to meet up with someone, don't back out last minute. It's easy to feel lonely when people stop asking to hang out with you because you're always changing your plans with them.
9. Remember To Enjoy Your Freedom
If there's one thing you need to remember when it comes to having alone time, is that it's not a negative thing. "When you’re alone, enjoy the freedom to follow your own impulses. Soon enough you will be in company again and then you can enjoy the nice safe feeling of social support," says Breuning. Take those moments of loneliness by doing some self-cafe hacks to make yourself emotionally and physically feel better.
While no one likes to feel lonely, there are ways to overcome that negative feeling. Use a few of these tricks to hopefully help you stay positive even when you feel disconnected from everyone else.