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What to Do When You Feel Lonely?

Things To Do When You Feel Lonely

Feeling lonely doesn’t only happen when you’re alone. In fact, some people enjoy time to themselves.

On the flipside, just because you’re around other people doesn’t mean you can’t feel lonely. You might even feel lonely when you’re in a room full of people. When you don’t feel connected with anyone or you feel like no one understands you, you might feel as though you are completely alone even if you’re around friends or family.

Loneliness is a normal, human experience. But when left unchecked, it can be bad for your emotional and physical health.

Some studies have found that loneliness is just as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes per day.1

Whether you occasionally feel a little lonely when you’re at home by yourself or you experience a deep sense of loneliness that never goes away, it’s important to address loneliness in a healthy way. Here are 10 things you can do right away when you feel lonely.

1. Just Show Up

A blonde woman going out to avoid feeling lonely

Get out there talk to others

Familiarity breeds attraction. A study published at the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that same-sex strangers felt increasing affinity towards each other, after each conversation they had. The same goes for online chat conversations. Don’t be hesitant to talk to people, even if you feel awkward or don’t like them at first. If you’re genuinely interested or curious about others, they’re more likely to reciprocate those feelings.

2. Go On A Solo Date

A latte and a piece of cake on a table

A solo date can be whatever you make it.

You know the problem with group and couples dates? The annoying “So what do we do?” and “Where do we eat?” questions. When you go on a date with yourself, you’re sure to go somewhere you actually like and you don’t have to wait around for others to decide.

3. Know The Difference Between Loneliness and Isolation

A man staring at the rising sun alone in a bay

Loneliness is an emotion, mostly triggered by a sad memory. Unfortunately the brain loves to overanalyze things, so even momentary loneliness can escalate to longer spells because of thoughts like “Why do I feel so alone?” and  “Am I a loser no one loves?” When this happens, just acknowledge the feeling and don’t overreact.

4. Attend Meetups

Five friends avoiding loneliness in a meetup group

Go to meetup.com and find a group in your city. There are tons of meetup groups catering to every interest, job, city and hobby, so it’s impossible not to find a group to your liking. People who join meetup.com are eager to meet new people, and are incredibly friendly so it’s a nice way to make new friends.

5. Watch A Movie

The outside of a neighborhood cinema in London.

Watch a movie alone or call some friends to go with you—it doesn’t matter. What’s important is you immerse yourself in an interesting story that’ll erase your gloomy thoughts. Watch a chick-flick, or a super hero movie—anything but a tear jerker, really —and grab lots of candy and popcorn.

6. Volunteer

A man and girl planting flowers in a garden

Focusing on the needs of others steers your mind away from sad thoughts. It’s impossible to feel lonely when you’re feeding the homeless, reading to kids at an orphanage, or dancing with grandmas at a salsa class. Helping the less fortunate will also fill you with immense gratitude.

7. Adopt A Cute Pet

A smiling English Spaniel that was adopted by KIM

A furry cat or dog will cheer you up. The playfulness of pets, plus the troubles (and fun) you’ll experience while training them will make you forget about your troubles. Even a goldfish or pretty parrot can do wonders for your mood. Read more about the amazing health benefits of pets and make a new pet friend soon.

8. Identify The Cause Of Your Loneliness

A hand resting against a rainy window
“What to do when you feel lonely?”

I can’t imagine how many people have Googled that phrase when they felt the pangs of loneliness. Unfortunately, it’s not the best question to ask. Would you ask a doctor for a prescription before they check your symptoms?

Instead of trying things randomly, hoping one solution will do the trick—losing hope and feeling worse when it doesn’t—it’s better to identify the cause of your loneliness first. If you were previously happy in your own company, what could’ve caused you to feel lonely this time?

Do your friends make you feel lonely? Is it your work or surroundings, perhaps? The cause of your loneliness will clue you in on the appropriate solution.

9. Read Fiction

A woman reading a fiction book while alone

Please don’t pick a Dummies book on how to stop feeling lonely.  Reading self-help when you’re feeling miserable will make just you feel worse. Read a good novel instead. Losing yourself in a good story or identifying with a powerful character will boost your confidence and fill you with a sense of adventure.

10. Take A Bath

Where do good ideas come from? In the shower, right? Taking a nice, long, and relaxing bath is a great way to be bask in your alone time, instead of drowning in self-pity.  Ladies, prepare a glass of red, chocolates and magazines. Gents, take a bubble bath ala Chandler by taking a manly boat with you!

11. Take A Random Bus, Train, or Flight Somewhere

Taking public transportation to a random location forces you to do two things—be in the company of strangers, and change your environment. Doing this will ward off loneliness and cure your wanderlust as well.

12. Dance (Naked)

Sometimes, we feel lonely because we’re actually alone. So take this chance to do the things you can only do when you’re alone, like dancing naked or jumping on the bed with your shoes on. Doing crazy stuff alone will give you a good laugh.

13. Go For A Quick Run

A man running alone next to a lake

Running is scientifically proven to make you happier. Even 30 minutes of walking can instantly lift your mood, according to a 2006 study published at Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

14. Watch a Funny Show

There was a reason shows like Friends and Seinfeld were popular. They make people laugh! Sometimes they even make people laugh when they don’t want to, or when a situation they’ve been in appears in the script.  Check out the Friends episodes “The One with the Unagi,” and “The One With the Embryos” if you’re feeling lonely and need a good laugh.

15. Get Coffee

Go to a coffee shop far from your apartment or office. Then order coffee and sit on the bar, or that big table on the center where you can talk to people. Compliment someone on their tie, shoes or bag. Start a conversation. Don’t worry if you’re bad at small talk, because chances are you won’t see that person again.

16. Practice #JOMO

Social media is helpful, but it can be detrimental depending on how you use it.  Consider giving it up for a while. When your default behavior is to keep scrolling instead of talking to whoever’s with you, or taking a picture of everything you eat instead of eating it, then it’s time to experience the joy of missing out (JOMO) – a practice promoted by Randi Zuckerberg. Yes, she’s Mark Zuckerberg’s sister.

17. Make Your Bed

Making your bed in the morning, and doing a quick two-minute wipe down in your kitchen at night, will make you feel better and in control of your life. Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, says her research for the book revealed that bed-making is one of the keystone habits of happy people.

18. Look Through Old photos

Prepare some snacks or some tea and canapés ala afternoon high-tea, if you’re feeling fancy. Reminisce the good old days with a friend, your mom or sis. Remembering your crazy antics, and most embarrassing moments caught on camera will fill you with nostalgic memories and drive away loneliness.

19. Get A Camera

Get a camera, then go out and start taking beautiful pictures of things around you. A sunset, a barking dog, or a laughing baby—filling your life with beautiful things can take your mind off of loneliness.

20. Attend Classes For A Fun New Exercise Like Air Yoga, Pole Dancing, Or Trampoline Jumping

The exact exercise doesn’t matter. The point is to get yourself moving, while trying something new in the supportive environment of a group class.

21. Start A 5-Minute Gratitude Journal

It’s hard to feel down when you know that you have a lot to be thankful for.  When you don’t know what to be thankful for, just write what you feel. Sometimes, it can help you identify why you feel lonely in the first place.

22. Watch Inspiring Ted Talks

Ted Talks are inspiring and informative. I don’t know why, but watching a few Ted Talks really help when I feel lonely and helpless. Some of my favorites are: Connected, but alone?by Sherry Turkle, and Success, failure and the drive to keep creating by Elizabeth Glibert.

23. Plan A holiday

Nothing beats loneliness and overwhelm like planning a great holiday vacation. Looking up flights, hotel deals and stuff to do on a random faraway location will boost your spirits and steer your mind off your negative thoughts. You don’t really need to book a trip, sometimes the act of planning for one is enough.

24. Create Something New

Wondering how to not feel lonely, when you actually prefer to be alone? Getting bored is a prerequisite of feeling lonely. And what’s one of the main causes of getting bored? Having nothing to do. So keep yourself occupied! Try a new recipe. Create a scrapbook. Finish that DIY project you’ve been postponing for so long.

25. Do Something Craaazy

2 guys on a boat so they won't feel lonely

Dress up like a tourist, and do all the cheesy touristy things in your city. Eat the local delicacy, tour the crowded tourist spots and explore new locations you’ve never heard of.

Do you have other tips on fighting loneliness? Share them with us below.

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