Loneliness kills—literally. The Health Resources and Services Administration confirms that “loneliness and social isolation can be as damaging to health as smoking.” Moreover, mortality and risk factors for loneliness are inextricably linked, which makes loneliness even more challenging for those at risk.
Living alone, being unmarried (single, divorced, widowed), lack of participation in social groups, fewer friends, and strained relationships are not only all risk factors for premature mortality, but they also increase the risk for loneliness. However, there are ways on how you can deal with loneliness.
As a single person living alone and working from home, I’ve certainly experienced bouts of loneliness, particularly in light of the 2020 pandemic. In this article, I offer some suggestions on how to deal with loneliness based on my personal experience.
The recommendations are listed in order of priority to develop intimacy with yourself before pursuing intimacy with others. This approach offers the most lasting “cure” for acute and chronic loneliness.
Explore Your Mind and Connect With Your Spirit
Wayne Dyer was onto something when he declared, “You cannot be lonely if you like the person you’re with.” There are specific things can do that help make you impermeable to loneliness and that’s why I recommend exploring your inner terrain as the first step in combatting loneliness.
Here are five specific things that will help you explore your mind and connect with your spirit to deal with loneliness.
Journaling is a form of self-care that enables you to process emotion and gain perspective over the incessant thoughts in your mind. It helps connect you to you better than anything I know.
Sit in silence for ten minutes, and clear your mind of non-productive thoughts while establishing a connection to your spirit and allowing inspirational thoughts to come through. If silence makes you uncomfortable, consider using guided meditation tracks that can be found on apps like Calm and YouTube.
3. Get Physical
Challenging the physical body through exercise is a great way to challenge the mind. This can be as easy as going for a walk around the block, dancing around the house, or completing an intense workout.
4. Eliminate Noise
I love social media and the real-life friends I’ve made through Facebook. However, when I’m feeling lonely, social media feels more like a distraction than a means for connection. Loneliness isn’t resolved without a connection of some kind. When used indiscriminately, social media serves more as a misdirection than a vehicle to facilitate connection.
5. Explore Spirituality and Faith-Based Studies
Dive into spiritual and/or faith-based studies to gain a better feel for the bigger picture at play and the interconnectedness of all beings. This will help you understand that you are never alone, even when you’re physically alone.
Refresh the Energy in Your Environment
These activities represent another layer in working with your mindset to deal with loneliness. The more solid your mindset, the less susceptible it is to loneliness.
T.F. Hodge, author of From Within I Rise: Spiritual Triumph Over Death and Conscious Encounters with “The Divine Presence,” makes the connection between our environment and mindset, noting that “what surrounds us is within us.” Because we are a product of our environment, it’s important to address the energy we are surrounded with and ensure that it’s offering the best possible influence.
Here are five ideas to refresh the energy in your environment.
I often say that my environment is a reflection of my mind. When my home is messy, my mind is messy as well. When the appearance of my home is not managed well, I feel lonelier because of feeling alone and overwhelmed in tackling it.
Taking just a few minutes every day to do simple things like make the bed, do the dishes, and go through the mail can help you keep the feeling of being overwhelmed—and potential loneliness—at bay.
7. Appreciate Nature
Go outside! Soak up the sun, walk barefoot on the grass, and/or hug a tree. These grounding practices will help you become more centered in your body and more confident about the world you live in.
8. Shake It Off
When you’re frequently alone, you may not have the opportunity to express yourself by talking with others. This excess emotion builds up and gets stored in the body. Dancing is a great way to release this emotion to ensure that it doesn’t lead to loneliness and uneasiness.
9. Get a Massage
Dacher Keltner, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, emphasizes the importance of physical touch. He notes, “Touch is the fundamental language of connection…touch activates a big bundle of nerves in your body that improves your immune system, regulates digestion, and helps you sleep well. It also activates parts of your brain that help you empathize.”
Have a partner for hugging, cuddling, and other forms of intimacy. Safe, positive touch through massage is one way to get the need for touch met.
10. Positive Exposure
It’s much easier for loneliness to creep in when you’re feeling down. Ensuring your life is filled with as much positive messaging as possible keeps loneliness at bay. You can do this by exposing yourself to positive media, movies, books, and people.
Get Purposeful and Help Others
Author Martha Beck confirms that “loneliness is proof that your innate search for connection is intact.”
Connection is a healing salve for loneliness. However, connecting with others during times of loneliness should be done with great care and intention.
Connecting with the wrong person for an improper purpose could cause more damage than the temporary relief it provides. Suggestions for connecting with others to deal with loneliness are recommended throughout the next three sections in order of increasing intensity and intimacy.
Here are three directly related to expanding in purpose and helping others.
11. Talk to Strangers
When you’re out and about, smile, be kind, and connect with the strangers you encounter. Purposeful eye contact and a warm “good morning” greeting can go a long way in making someone else’s day. Making their day may make yours as well while warding off feelings of loneliness.
Working with others toward a common goal is an instant cure for loneliness. It will get you among like-minded individuals while also offering your skills to benefit others. Volunteering and helping others can also be a way of supporting and helping yourself deal with loneliness. It’s the perfect win-win situation.
13. Support Someone in Need
Have a friend who could use a break? Maybe there’s a single mom who needs a night out, help around the house, or a babysitter. Maybe there’s an elderly neighbor who could use help with yard work. Lend a hand, a shoulder, and your time to combat loneliness—for you and them.
Be Collaborative, Generous, and Supportive
I believe collaboration is the way to our abundant future. Even when I’m with strangers, I’ve found good collaborators to be welcoming and generous with support. This world is so small and online connections turn strangers into friends and dance partners.
Guillermo Maldonado reminds us that “loneliness is not lack of company; loneliness is lack of purpose.” Collaboration gives you purpose, power, and influence to deal with loneliness.
The following are specific ways you can collaborate with others to deal with loneliness.
14. Invite Someone to Join You
Instead of attempting to do everything on your own, invite other people to join you. This can be as easy as sitting in the same room (or virtually via Zoom) while working together, or as complicated as pursuing a new business endeavor or joint vision together.
15. Learn Something New
Explore something you’ve always wanted to learn. Local adult education classes are full of opportunities to learn something new. The courses are as varied as belly dancing, cake decorating, scuba diving, computer programming, and basic homeowner repairs. Taking these classes helps you explore your purpose while being in the company of others with similar interests.
16. Invest in Personal or Professional Development
Some of my most beloved supports I call on during times of loneliness were acquired through personal and professional development programs. Enrolling in a coaching or other significant training program is a great way to expand your skills and surround yourself with like-minded people who will support you on your journey.
Connect With Others
I saved the direct connection with others for last for a reason. Many people deal with loneliness by going straight to dating or intimacy. I know I’ve certainly been guilty of doing that. However, I’ve found that going straight for connection and bypassing the internal connection leaves intimate, and even professional, collaborative connections flat.
Gretchen Rubin reminds us that a life that’s completely devoid of loneliness is one that’s full and includes intimacy.
“Keep in mind that to avoid loneliness, many people need both a social circle and an intimate attachment. Having just one of two may still leave you feeling lonely.” —Gretchen Rubin
To help you create a full life, here are some suggestions on how to deal with loneliness:
17. Join a Support Group
This is one of the most direct ways to address your loneliness. It’s also an effective way to find purpose and help others. Support groups happen in person and online.
To this day, I spend a significant amount of time supporting others through social media and closed Facebook groups. For me, these connections reach far beyond the computer. I’ve met my Facebook friends in person. I’ve had meals with them, eye-to-eye conversations with them, traveled with them, attended their weddings, celebrated the holidays with them, done business with them, and helped them with emotional and financial support.
18. Enjoy an Interesting Meet-Up or Event
I love to dance. There’s nothing like the energy on the dance floor. Even when you’re dancing alone, being among a crowd of people with the same interests as you is life-giving.
I’ve met some incredible connections and had tons of fun exploring MeetUp, Eventbrite, and Facebook events. My favorite event experiences include ecstatic dance, adult summer camp, sunset silent disco, full moon gatherings, women’s circles, and sailing adventures. In all cases, I showed up alone but left with new contacts and friends.
19. Network With Others
Building your network with others is a great way to deal with loneliness. Consider joining an app like Shapr a try. It’s an app designed to connect professionals. I like to think of this app as a mix between a dating app and LinkedIn. It gives a dopamine hit when both parties agree to meet and the animated message, “It’s a Match!” appears.
Most people are using this application to advance their careers and sell services. Others use it to find friends, collaborators, and co-conspirators. I’ve connected with great people through Shapr which invited new energy into my life.
20. Try Online Dating
I saved the best for last. Intimate connections add to the fullness of life. However, when we approach intimacy without first addressing our own mind, spirit, environment, and purpose, it can come from a place of wanting to fill a void rather than connecting from a place of wholeness. Connecting intimately with others is a gift that’s best unwrapped after wholeness is achieved.
The Beauty and Irony of Loneliness
Author Douglas Coupland reminds us of why it’s so important to be intentional on how to deal with loneliness.
“Remember: the time you feel lonely is the time you most need to be by yourself. Life’s cruelest irony.” —Douglas Coupland
After spending nearly all of 2020 alone and ridiculously lonely, the cruel irony is that it was the best thing for me. It forced me to confront my demons. Being alone offered me the time and space to do the shadow work necessary to have a more stable personal foundation.
Because of the extensive work that I did to develop wholeness and safety within my own experience, I’m now in a better position to connect with others with clean energy, no expectations, and a greater chance of experiencing a better result. Following these 20 tips can help you deal with loneliness and live a fuller life.
More Tips on How to Deal With Loneliness
- How To Deal With Loneliness
- 10 Things That Healed My Loneliness — from Someone Who Hated Being Lonely
- What to Do When You Have No Friends and Feel Lonely
Featured photo credit: Timur Romanov via unsplash.com
|||^||Health Resources and Services Administration: The “Loneliness Epidemic”|
|||^||Oxford Academic: The Potential Public Health Relevance of Social Isolation and Loneliness: Prevalence, Epidemiology, and Risk Factors|